In college, I had somewhat of a reputation when it came to the Game of Games, beer pong: I was a streaker. Not that I played beer pong naked, but I would run incredibly hot or cold. Some nights, I was on fire, making it rain and compelling my roommates to imitate the announcer from NBA Jamz each time the ping pong ball plunked into the cup. But then there were the nights I couldn’t buy a make. Shots would go from clanking off the rim to missing the cup completely. If you got me on your team, I was either going to backpack you to victory, or anchor you to defeat. It was a coin flip, most infuriating to my best friend and roommate who often had the misfortune to kick me from the team in the midst of a cold streak only to run into me as I went super saiyan later that very night.
Almost a decade later, that streaky nature has transitioned to my dating game, and it’s goddamn miserable. Obviously, everyone can sympathize with someone on a cold streak. It sucks to have those days, weeks, or even months where you just can’t make anything work. You right swipe for hours with no matches. Your standards begin to erode to the point you’d take anyone with a pulse, just to reassure yourself that you haven’t completely fallen off the attractive spectrum. So then a few matches trickle in, but no one will return a message. Maybe you chat for a few nights but can’t get the number. She ghosts you. Eventually, you’re chatting with a girl you have zero interest in, debating whether plunking down $50 on a happy hour to break the schneid is worth sacrificing a night marathoning Luke Cage. When you’ve got the yips, every move you make seems to go wrong, and the more you try to force your way out of it the worse it gets.
On the other side, running hot seems like a blessing. You don’t even bother going on Tinder or Bumble, knowing that you’re just going to be adding more talent to an already crowded bullpen. Your weeknights are packed with happy hour dates, sometimes you’re even forced into playing a double header. You don’t dare schedule anything for the weekends. That’s closing time. And you know you’re gonna close. It’s one of those rare times you understand what professional athletes mean when they talk about being “in the zone.” Everything works. It seems too good to be true. That’s because it is. The hot streak is the ultimate double-edged sword.
Going out with a new girl every night starts to wear you down. You’re not as charming or original with girl #4 as you were with girl #1, because you’ve repeated the story about how you challenged yourself to kill a bottle of Bacardi 151 over a week-long cruise three times by now. You can’t stand to listen to hear another discussion about her barre classes or trip to Machu Picchu again. Even worse, you’re now juggling texting multiple girls at the same time. Someone is going to slip through the cracks and fall out because you didn’t respond to her second date follow-up for a week when you swore you had. You lose track of girls you actually like simply due to logistical failure. Inevitably there will be a conflict between two dates, and now you have to pick one or the other. In fact, you’re now mentally trying to keep some sort of order of who is going to get the Final Rose. So one or two girls will get the bulk of your attention as you keep trying to appease the two or three others that you’ve pushed back dinner with twice now. It’s truly a plate spinning act, except you’re also juggling chainsaws in one hand. You want to keep the plates up, but you’re damn sure not dropping those chainsaws.
All of this pressure, this panic during what should be the best of times boils down to the fact that, as a streaker, I know eventually I’m gonna start running dry. Eventually, those shots will start clanking off the rim and my texts will go unreturned. During the hot streak, I feel that immense pressure to find someone that I can genuinely have a good time with and somehow finds me attractive and charming. If I do, I’ll do everything in my power to lock her down, go into hibernation for winter, and maybe even emerge in spring in a God’s honest relationship. So far, I’ve usually just ended up sticking with the only one who doesn’t lose interest, eventually resenting myself for wasting the hot streak and breaking up with her due more to my insecurities than hers. Therein lies the rub with being streaky in dating. While the hot streak seems like paradise, an oasis in the desert that is my normal dating life, deep down I know it’s just a mirage. Eventually, the streak will end. When you’re running hot, you need to put the A game on, or soon you’ll be left in the cold rubbing your hands over a fire to keep yourself warm. .
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