Some Dans and Daniels. One Danny. A multitude of Ians. Zachs with an H and Zacks with a K. All these men have lived in my phone contacts, unceremoniously IDed with the last name “Hinge” like ear tags on cattle monitored for progress. There’s been a Bob, a few Joes, a smothering of Daves and Davids. An assortment of Jakes. An Andrew whose last name I mistyped as “Honge” and didn’t bother fixing. Joshes. Nicks. Mikes. Jeffs. All within a five-mile radius of my apartment.
After several months of treating dating less like a treasure hunt and more like an intramural sport. I went through my contacts and erased everyone whose last name was Hinge. It was a short list — I’m prone to deleting in real time — but recently, my fastidious record keeping had grown as lax as my standards. Many of the names barely sparked recognition, some of them I’d never gone out with, just chatted for weeks until one of us stopped responding despite the clear connection and repeated enthusiasm for a future meetup. Others I’d gone out with once, found inoffensive, maybe even decent company, possibly slept with, but ultimately never spoke to again. And inevitably, there were a handful who had clearly decided, often mid-conversation, that I was not for them.
“How was your vacation?” I had texted an emerging comedian who I’d gotten drunk with a few weeks prior. We had already agreed to go out again, in part because he had promised me an orgasm in exchange for a business idea I had given him.
He didn’t answer.
In my early 20s, I was as precious about who I let into my contacts as who I slept with. A man was a set of 10 digits until I was confident that they were here to stay. It was an honor to earn and limited to a select few at any given time. I assigned elaborate meanings and twisted rules on an administrative task, turning something so perfunctory as tapping a series of buttons into a step in a relationship, a mark of faith. It allowed them entry into one of my most valuable and hyper personalized possessions — a form of intimacy not unlike sex — and plunged me into anxiety-riddled fantasies about long-term relationships and the compromises we’d have to make when planning our wedding.
Two different Joshes and a Danny texted to say they had fun but didn’t feel a romantic connection.
“Sure no problem,” I responded to both.
Now I’m 30. Countless names have been entered. Just as many have been removed. I no longer wait until I’ve experienced that thrill or that vibe, whatever it is that turns one drink into two drinks into “want to get out of here” into a kiss into two kisses into a bed into an Uber home at 3 a.m. into a text the next morning making plans to do it all over again. If we’re talking at all, you get a place in my phone book. Because a decade of swiping left and right and up and down has taught me that no matter whether a person is a series of digits, a name on a screen or a number fully erased from memory but written on a post-it note and stuck in a drawer, they can still break your heart. And if that’s the case, I’d rather know who is doing the damage.
As with everything, I talked this over with my therapist. Only a few years older than I am, she had recently become engaged to the man whose apartment had been her Zoom background since the early days of the pandemic. She said that she too would tag her prospects with their dating app of origin and that for a time, her fiancé had OKC tacked onto his first name so she could recognize him as one of the competitors on her bracket. But once she knew he was a keeper, she removed the OKC. He had proved himself.
He never removed it. On the day they get married, they’ll become husband and the girl from OkCupid who outshone the rest.
She said she’d have it no other way.
So make the contacts. Delete the scum. You have unlimited data.
This story originally appeared on LATimes