The last time I was single, I was broke, blonde, and really forgiving. You’re 32 and don't have a stove? No problem. You have a weird-shaped dick and your apartment smells like cat litter? Fine by me. You wore a shark tooth necklace on our first date? ~*~To EaCh ThEiR oWn~*~ You’re still in love with your ex wife who cheated on you? Okily dokily! (That last one actually describes the majority of men I dated in 2014 – 2016.) None of these details matter when you’re not out there looking for “The One.” I met a lot of people, had a great time, and wouldn’t trade those two years I was a Tinder Queen™ for anything in the world, since the result of me writing about those experiences led me to contracts with dream publications like Cosmo, Marie Claire, and Playboy. Being a Tinder Queen quite literally started my career.
In the game of New York City online dating, you really need to stand out. I understood this. My Tinder bios were things like "This pussy ain’t gonna lick itself,” “Looking for someone to fill all my holes,” and “I only swallow if I'm in love.” (Sorry, Mom!) (I also was on Tinder as just a belly, but people kept reporting me. You can read that story here.) My profile pictures were often stuff like this:
These crazy bios and pictures led me to go on dates with people who understood my sense of humor and were, just as I was, clearly not looking for anything serious.
Eventually, I realized I wanted to know what it was like to have an actual partner (I also fell in love and all that barf), so I gave that a go and learned a lot. As much as being in a relationship provides a kind of steady comfort that's really appealing and dating your face off in NYC is just, well, a fuckin' blast, I'm not looking for either right now. I'm kinda somewhere in the middle. Plus, who I am now is much different. When I was last single, I had a different job; I was Dana the editor at a big publishing house. Because I built my career over the course of the same year I was in a monogamous relationship, I have never dated as a single professional sex writer until now. Before, I openly exchanged first and last names with people I ended up giving my phone number to after chatting on a dating app. This was because:
Now, a person can Google “Dana” and “sex writer” and I’m the first search result. Which is AMAZING, but also pretty unnerving. I like apps like OKCupid where I can be anonymous for a little while. I’ve toyed with the idea of going on Bumble under a fake name because the moment someone learns my first name and what I do for a living, they can immediately look me up and see that I’ve written essays about my personal preference when it comes to dick size and a how-to guide outlining the proper way to eat pussy (in which I completely forgot to add a bullet point on the importance of suction, which is my forever shame). And as much as I stand by (the majority of) my work and am not embarrassed by my job in the slightest, it’s more that when people learn I am a sex writer, they make some assumptions about me.
I was on OKCupid just for a week for a piece I was writing for Playboy recently and these were some of the kind of messages I received:
There are other assumptions I have to constantly work against because of my career, but it’s too much to list. So do I give a fake name/lie about what I do for a living or do I be honest and accept that all of my writing will be just a click away? It's worth noting here that the problem with people reading my work before meeting me is a) they end up thinking they know me much better than they actually do and b) a lot of what I've written for magazines contains both truth and stuff written purely for entertainment (complete with comedic embellishment of ideas that I don't subscribe to as steadfastly as one would assume). It's nearly impossible for someone to discern which is which until they really get to know me. Anyway, I don’t like keeping secrets, I’m really fucking proud of the career I’ve built, and, plus, if I’m not upfront about what I do for a living, my trip, what’s happened in my life up to this point, well, what the hell is there to talk about? I believe honesty is the best policy, but is it when people have immediate access to so much about me while I, on the other hand, don’t get to know a lot about the other person? It feels pretty lopsided.
I think the biggest assumption I'm up against is men thinking that because I’m on this trip, because I’m only in places for 4-8 weeks at a time, that all I’m looking for is casual sex. Casual sex when you’re a super direct woman (and have a big ol' booty, like myself) is pretty easy to come by. Hell, you don’t even have to be super direct. You don't even need a butt. All you need is, like, a face. (I'm not even gonna use any descriptors here. Just A face. With a mouth hole.) Anyone can easily do it, and if I wanted to, trust me, I would. But I actually want to date! I want to go on dates to all the places I want to explore in each of the cities I’m visiting. I’m even open to the possibility of having a long-term monogamous partner, though I recognize that that is highly unlikely and will be very hard to do while I’m traveling.
I guess what I’m trying to say is despite naming this blog Eat, Drive, F*ck, I plan on having way fewer sexual encounters than I do actual dates. I’ve never done that before. For the first time ever, I’m not looking for someone to fill all my holes. I'm just looking to eat at the best restaurants, go to a lot of shows, and see a ton of art--and if someone wants to come along, they can, with no expectations from me at all. I’m still going to have a weird OKCupid name so people know I don’t take myself too seriously. "LiveLaughLove69" was taken--I was so disappointed!--and these nipples were NOT made in nature, so I went with FkBoobsRealHeart. After all, I always want to be upfront about being a weirdo.
New York City gave me 3 things: the ability to maintain a neutral face while a person next to me urinates on the subway tracks, no upper body strength to speak of despite carrying 30-lb laundry bags multiple horizontal blocks, and the clap (once and I took care of it; it happened ONCE, okay?). It might have given me some other things, but I was too tired to notice. After 11 years, it was time for me to leave.
I had originally planned to move to upstate NY for a partner, but like 90% of geographical moves that are partly based on a romantic relationship, it fell through. Ultimately, this ended up being a very, very good thing even though it felt like the exact opposite of a good thing at the time. (It felt like the worst thing that's ever happened to me, actually, and a hookup once took me back to an AIR MATTRESS ON THE FLOOR so that's saying something). Having already given my landlord notice that I would be moving out, and leaping for JOY at the idea of no longer having to live above a musician with no concept of time (cut to me being woken up at 7:30am on a SATURDAY by an electric guitar), I decided to leave the city anyway. I dumped all my stuff at my parents' house in the suburbs for the summer, where I planned on finishing my fifth novel in peace. Then I came down with a case of Lyme's disease AND mono because my immune system is dramatic af. So instead of writing my book, I spent most of the summer drinking chicken broth and having daytime cold medicine-induced fantasies about Rob Delaney from Amazon's "Catastrophe," which I watched way too much of while I was battling an illness that made my face swell to twice its normal size.
But between my Rob Delaney daydreams, I started wondering (slash hallucinating): if I didn't want to move back to NYC, where did I want to move? I wasn't sure. There were, like, 6 cities I had always wanted to know what it'd be like to live in, but I didn't know any of them well enough to just pick up, move there for the course of a year-long lease, and commit to anything. What if I just, I dunno, drove cross-country and Eat, Pray, Love-d this shit? A friend of mine pointed out that my version would be more like Eat, Drive, Fuck and that sounded good to me. So that's what I'm doing. After all, "Now's the time to do it!" has been said to me more times than I've been solicited for a threesome on Tinder (and it's exactly the number you're thinking of if you quadruple it).
Everyone's been asking me for a rundown of places I'll be and dates (which I'll update as I go; I book my sublets in each city ~4 mos in advance so I don't have exact dates for everything yet). Here goes nothing:
If I don't end up in any of these cities permanently and decide to drive back to the East Coast, I'll be stopping in Minneapolis and Chicago on my way back. They're two cities I've always wanted to visit, but know I don't want to live in (too cold).
Here's what a random dude from OKCupid thought of my upcoming trip:
So here we go.
Dana Hamilton is a writer from New York City currently traveling across the United States on her own for all of 2018. Passionate about everything having to do with the body, she writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a frequent contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, Time Out NY, and SELF, among other publications. Before she became a freelance writer, she was an editor at two "Big Five" houses in the book publishing industry. She has also written four books (under a pseudonym) for HarperCollins and is currently working on her fifth novel. She holds a BA in writing and nutrition from New York University.
Passionate about everything having to do with the body, Dana Hamilton writes about sex, dating, relationships, body image, and eating disorder recovery. She is a frequent contributor to Playboy and her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, New York Magazine, Time Out NY, and SELF, among other publications. After driving (and dating) across the country and back on her own for all of 2018, Dana now splits her time between New York, Boston, and Chicago. Before she became a freelance writer, she was an editor at two "Big Five" houses in the book publishing industry. She has also written four books (under a pseudonym) for HarperCollins and is currently working on her fifth novel. She holds a BA in writing and nutrition from New York University.