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“Rex, do you think you’re ready for a girlfriend?” She asked while looking at me with a curious grin.

Caught off guard, I took a sip of my Old Fashion, stalling for a quick second to conjure up an answer.

“I think so”.

“Are you sure?”, She followed up, “If you are, shouldn’t it be a ‘yes’?”

We were wrapping up a day of hiking in Joshua Tree with post-dinner drinks at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It’s been a little over a month since our first date, but after a couple of weeks, our relationship was blooming at an accelerated rate, and the topic of the “what’s next?” loomed.

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It’s been several years since my last serious relationship, and like most in New York City, commitment wasn’t really on my mind. For me, elevating my career was the main priority, which meant romance got the backseat. Thankfully, NYC is a playground for singles, but the reckless and aggressive environment transforms you into a serial dater. You go through dates so frequently that, ultimately, the excitement and value behind them are subdued. Dates became a dime a dozen, a result of people’s sky-high expectations and reluctance to abandon their “single” status. But it makes sense: if you’re going to pass on the limitless options around you, you’re going to want to find someone that should be close to extraordinary. Watch the “First Date” episode of the new season Masters of None (which is amazing) for an accurate depiction of the NYC dating scene.

All this was fun, but after a certain point, I became really jaded and approached dates with no real expectations of seeing the girl more than two times. It could be due to my own ruthless doing (and looking back, I was an asshole in some occasions) on her’s, but I was really worn out from all these short-term encounters that didn’t lead to anything meaningful. It was a stale routine.

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Moving back to Los Angeles was an opportunity to mature in several personal areas. A new job opportunity was the main driver for my return, but my career is finally at a point where I’m not tirelessly trying to improve it. Now I can invest more effort and focus behind cultivating solid relationships. Plus the calmer LA environment isn’t the same jungle as NYC, so there’s some space to breathe. These are key aspects for anything you do: mindset and environment. You need to be the ideal situation in both areas in order for your efforts to really succeed.

I was still in a very NY the first couple months, swiping away at the dating apps and going on a number of first dates. No one really impressed me and I was just falling into that familiar cycle. But then I finally met Her.

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“No, I’m ready,” I confidently replied.

There were a few awkward moments of silence that followed, but it was a pleasant conversation. We weren’t defining the relationship per se, but rather gauging where it was heading, and I was excited at the possibilities with Her. I haven’t been in this situation in a while. I was honestly timid at first, but when it feels right and it’s something I want, I just have to go get it.

We finished our drinks and hopped on a nearby ping pong table to get in some rallies before heading to bed.

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I forgot how nice it was to have someone consistently by your side. We laughed, learned, and experienced together and I’m reminded how satisfying it was. Unfortunately, we didn’t flourish as I had hoped, but it was a positive step forward to being ready.

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Rex Pham

Originally from the Bay Area, who then moved to Los Angeles, then out to New York City. NYU Stern MBA c/o 2014. Inspired by the grind of NYC to create something that has value. Lover of all things digital, culture, and brand strategy.