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I said no to the smart guy who wasn't attractive to me. I said no to the graphic designer who tried to kiss me one night. I ran the pool table (twice), and his eyes roamed along my ass as I lined up my shot, and I was surprised to find I liked that.But he slurped down three bourbons in 90 minutes, and when he leaned forward to kiss me, I was grossed out by the sour smell of his breath, the slump of his eyes, and I ducked. It was a revelation to me how unappealing men were when they were drunk.It built up your confidence at the very moment you were looking your worst. I went out with him again, but something crucial was lacking. He showed up in jeans and a '70s ringer shirt pocked with holes and said, "Look, I dressed up for you," and already I liked him. We sat in a bar that was delightfully sleazy, and he drank a beer and I drank water, and nothing was forced or uncomfortable about this arrangement, which was shocking in itself. When he walked me to my car, he said, "So I'm unemployed, I'm broke, and I still live with my ex.After the comical way I ducked the graphic designer's kiss, I was certain I'd never hear from him again. "I don't think this is going to work," I told him, which was a phrase I was learning to say. I understand if you never want to see me again, but you should know all that."I saw him the next week. We sat outside a gelato store with our feet kicked up on the railing, and we talked about pornography.I did it for my friend Anna, who'd logged countless hours listening to me complain about my ex. I bought a bottle of sauvignon blanc that night and sipped my way onto a plateau of cleverness.I didn't want a profile that was drab and ordinary.
I was starting to learn one of the most important lessons of online dating: the wisdom of saying no. I was shy and ambitious, a terrible mix, and so I tried to dismantle my isolationist tendencies.
After I got sober, I worried I'd never have sex again.
This may sound dramatic, the kind of grandiose proclamation a teenager makes before slamming the door to her room.
But saying yes to everything meant repeatedly saying no to my own better judgment, or drinking myself to the point where I had none.
Now my job was to sort out the possibilities with more caution: which risks are not worth it, and which ones deserve a jump.