I kind of hate living in an interesting city sometimes. There’s suddenly all this pressure from visiting people to know cool things they would personally be interested in, to be free to hang out. I feel guilty for having a life (or needing to sit quietly in my room, which, let’s be honest, after too much time on the central line, you need some days) when people are in town. But it’s always nice to see them! Even if it’s not for as long as they would like. And these people are generally a-ok with me putting my sanity/well-being first. That’s what makes them friends, not strangers.
But what gets my goat is strangers using online dating profiles to get travel advice, often with the insinuation of a hookup.
What they say, interspersed with some infantilizing “baby” or “sweetheart” type words: Meet me for a beer right now. Show me around town. Recommend a place for dinner. Convince me this city is where I should move. Make London a pleasant experience for me. Entertain me.
What they seem to expect in response, sans sarcasm: OH YES HERE LET ME DO SOME FREE LABOR FOR YOU. THIS IS THE SHIT I LIVE FOR. Lord knows, without attention from a man I will wilt like a flower without sun. Please, please, shine the glowing light of your masculinity on me so that I may once again find purpose! And maybe could we make out a little bit? Just to make sure your time in the city is really, truly great and worth telling your buddies about when you get home, so you can high five and bro it out like the goddamn champion you are?! Because that’s all I want for you out of this trip here. #DIFTSBRO
It adds up. Even just the time reading these dumb messages presuming that I would somehow be invested in their experience of London. Let alone all the time it would take to fulfill all these men’s touristy dreams. Often, they’re making these requests in their very first message, not even after exchanging greetings. Conveniently, it does make it very easy to trash their messages.
Asking for a date is one thing. There’s a mutual burden of being interesting and a shared hope that it might be fun; however, asking someone to provide what is essentially a service simply because you found them interesting and they had the nerve to exist on the dating site in the city you’re in is absurd. You want to eat/drink/have fun like a local? Read a guide book. Watch Anthony Bourdain. Use Google. Don’t ask me.
Because I really don’t care if you enjoy London. I did not move across the planet to be some North American angel of tourism. I did not set up an OKCupid because I wanted to guide bored men to Borough Market or show them round to pubs I like. I barely have the time/energy/inclination to do that with people I already know.
Stop asking women for their time for your convenience, rather than seeing yourself as having an equal responsibility to entertain them. Got it? Now read that again, with handclaps between every word.
Emotional labor is labor. Intellectual labor is labor. And if there’s none of that being exchanged, that’s called-wait for it-wait for it- TAKING ADVANTAGE OF SOMEONE. And I’m not interested in having someone use my time, my mind, and my own sense of “well I’ll just take 5 minutes to tell you all this to be nice” for their own benefit.
I don’t want to list fun places for you to go. I don’t care where you go. You mean nothing to me beyond some words on a screen. Right now, a dog could eat your face, and I’d never know. And guess what? I’m ok with that.
So here’s a better plan than my meeting your only-in-town-for-the-weekend self for a drink: I’ll stay in my pajamas and have another glass of wine while coloring in “a cluster of fucks” by Never Stay Dead and watching 30 Rock. You get a travel app on your phone.
We never speak again.
EVERYONE WINS. Unless a dog really did eat your face. In which case, please seek medical attention.