L.A. Affairs: 'Why would I date you?' Ouch

Sarah Martellaro
By text, he told her she wasn't special. He was wrong.
We're dating, right? (Simone Noronha / For The Times)

“There are millions of other girls in the world, so why would I date you?”

That was the text I received from the guy who, up until that point, I thought I was dating.

As I reread his text through a fresh glaze of tears, my mind worked to sort through the two months I had spent with this person.

Most of my 20s were wasted on rummaging through the miserable wreckage that is the L.A. dating pool. But this guy was different. For one, we had actually first met in person, a novelty when so many meet on a dating app. He was sweet, cute and smart. We knew each other through the comedy community, and I had briefly dated a mutual friend, so we'd had occasion to chat a few times but nothing beyond that — until he slid into my DMs.

This DM felt different from a simple "slide." More determined and eager.

He told me he thought I was beautiful and funny and that he wanted to take me out as soon as possible. What’s more, he did this on Christmas Day — a day ostensibly about family, togetherness and, oh yeah, love.

I thought, This guy means business.

Two days later we found ourselves eating ramen at Grand Central Market and walking around DTLA not far from his place. We brushed hands more than once as he showed me some of the city’s striking architectural feats right in his backyard. The energy between us was palpable.

We shared vegan ice cream (he was vegan; I went along with it) and crossed Pershing Square while discussing our favorite 19th century Impressionist painters — L.A. pretension at its finest. But also, maybe, something more?

This pattern of downtown walks and overpriced vegan samplings persisted week after week, but our feelings for each other remained unspoken. I knew he tended to be shy, and I didn't want to come off as overly eager (as one tends to do when single for as long as I have been).

Then one night as we were texting, I knew I needed to say something.

“Hey!” I typed to him with trembling hands (Why am I trembling? I thought, this is just open and honest communication) “I really like you and would love to take things more seriously."

My stomach fluttered with nerves and excitement. Like any good Angeleno, I knew my therapist would be proud of me.

I got a text back. The text. The text that turned our undefined relationship into some kind of math word problem in my brain: If there are a million other girls in the world and Sarah is one of them, how much of a chance does she actually have with this guy?

My breath caught like a drawstring pulled tight around my lungs. How was this happening? Had I been completely delusional? Was he experiencing a severe case of amnesia caused by a piano falling on his head from a high-rise building? (Downtown L.A. has plenty of tall buildings, so I wasn’t ruling anything out just yet.)

I told him I was confused. Admittedly, things hadn't gotten physical. But hadn't we been going on dates? Flirting? And talking about past relationships, as you do when you're getting to know someone?

He told me he never saw the relationship as anything more than two people with similar interests hanging out and talking. And then he clarified the text with a pointed reminder of my fleeting relationship with our mutual acquaintance: There are millions of other girls "who haven't dated my friend."

Ah. Was that what this was about?

All I could muster was a simple, “Thanks for letting me know.”

I didn’t want to make him feel bad, after all.

The next week or so was spent moping, wallowing and moping a bit more.

No matter how many times I went over it, I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. I blamed myself.

I’m not pretty enough. He could do better. I knew I shouldn’t have done that Cher impression for him. Twice.

But as they do, feelings ebb and flow until we’re able to process them and move on.

And I did. The next few months were spent working on self-improvement, and I stopped thinking about him entirely. Then one night as I was going over my to-do list for the following day (one of the hallmarks of my newfound self-improvement), my phone buzzed.

It was him. Yes, the "him" who so uncouthly let me know there were millions of other females in the world available for his dating pleasure. Yet to my surprise, he was apologizing, letting me know he acted the way he did because he was scared. He begged for a second chance. (Isn't that something you'd say to someone you were dating?) A torrent of emotions hit me: I was relieved, angry, confused, a little hungry, but overall resolute in my feeling that I was better off without him.

So I did what any smart, empowered woman would do: I caved and gave him a second chance.

Later that week, I made the trek to his DTLA apartment. I shouldn’t have been so excited to see him, but I was.

Then, upon opening his door, he informed me that he “hadn’t had time to shower in the past three days.” Three days. With greasy hair slicked back, he sat on the couch and turned on TruTV’s “Impractical Jokers,” which we then watched for two hours in silence on opposite ends of the couch.

Truly romantic.

This should have been the end of it, but for the next few weeks this guy continued to pull me in and string me along with his ever-familiar pattern of rejections and apologies. Out of my own desperation to finally find love, I took his bait.

Until one night, months later, when he started to doze off on his couch just moments after we shared our first kiss, I decided I was finally done.

I still don’t know whether he actually liked me or was just an awkward 30-something still trying to figure out what he wanted. Or a guy who lashed out when I tried to push the relationship along to the next level. But what I do know is, don’t ever give a guy a second chance if he sees you as one of a million and not one in a million.

The author is a writer, actress and student at UCLA’s Professional Program in Writing for Television.

L.A. Affairs chronicles the search for romantic love in all its glorious expressions in the L.A. area, and we want to hear your true story. We pay $300 for a published essay. Email LAAffairs@latimes.com. You can find submission guidelines here.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.