Adventures in Hollywood Dating: How I "Burn Bridges in New, Exciting Ways" (Guest Column)

Dating in Hollywood Illo - THR - H 2018
Illustration by: Julia Yellow

Julie Klausner, creator of Hulu's 'Difficult People,' catalogs the crazy-making pros and cons of trying to find a soulmate in show business — from Raya anxiety to IMDb envy to the industry quirks that contribute to "a specific subcategory in the horror genre of dating."

Billy Eichner, my co-star on the late, great Difficult People, of which I created three beautiful, inclusive seasons for Hulu, was recently a guest on Marc Maron's WTF podcast. When my name came up in conversation, Marc said to Billy: "I always think [Julie] doesn't like me. Does she do that to a lot of people, or am I the only one?" Billy's answer warmed my heart. "Julie's picky," he said. "But she has good taste."

I am picky. I don't like most people, I'm sorry! The batting average of the human race is so unimpressive, I am using sports metaphors like "batting average" to decry it.

This makes dating very challenging for me.

Currently, I am fortunate to have been in a secure and joy-causing relationship with somebody with whom I stay in part because I absolutely love him, but also because my fear of being back "on the market" scares me like it's something that Eli Roth would get giddy describing.

I am a congenital introvert. Inglourious Basterds on Blu-ray, a challenging jigsaw puzzle, apple-pie ingredients in the fridge and a soft new throw blanket fuel my perfect weekend.

Dates, on the other hand, are awful. The notion of having to go outside to meet somebody so you can, ideally, one day stay inside together, was always bafflingly unfair to me.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

Dating in show business is a specific subcategory in the horror genre of "dating." Combine the ego-squashing odds of succeeding in show business with the self-esteem-dissolving social roulette of meeting people you want to be attracted to but ultimately can't connect with, and … well, we're gonna need a bigger jigsaw puzzle.

There are risks to dating within the industry. For example, the odds are stellar that you'll meet someone with terrible, however seemingly well-informed, opinions about how somebody, who actually is untalented, is talented. (They're not talented, they're just working right now.) When you date where you eat, so to speak, you also have the chance to burn bridges in new, exciting ways, and you are constantly at risk of being the person who works out less than the guy you're on a date with. Or who earns less. Who has less going on. You risk being jealous. Being envied.

Being written about.

There are, however, some advantages to dating people in the business. You don't have to explain why you sometimes work constantly and relentlessly, and then, sometimes, go for years at a time trying to make a meal out of a development deal and a freelance writing assignment. (Note: Thank you, THR and guest editor Lena Dunham!) When you date within the industry, I believe you are less likely to end up face-to-face with a Donald Trump supporter, unless you're drinking with James Woods — in which case, girl, I'm outside in the Lyft and the motor is running.

Finally, one of the truly great things about going out with people who work in entertainment is that the likelihood of spending a first date with somebody who brags about "not watching TV" is blissfully reduced. I was offended by that peccadillo before I ever even had a TV show. "I don't have a TV" prognosticates irreconcilable differences between a television lover like myself and a guy who travels and does sports outside instead of having a personality. I can't connect with people like that, unless we're bonding over a dog. It's weird when somebody's work isn't their passion in life, and their relationship to what they do for a living is the financial lifestyle equivalent of "I eat to live."

I was on the private dating app Raya when I was single, and I met or corresponded with a couple of affable gents who were so out of my league, looks-wise, I can only assume they met up with me hoping I could cast them in something. It was interesting to swipe through Raya and see which celebrities were single, without needing a gossip site to confirm it. Plus, you learn about their taste in music when you see which song they use to score their profile. You see, on Raya, a user chooses a song to play beneath a photo slideshow of him or her being famous or funny or hot or whatever it is one has to offer a fellow human being. One fella, who's now in a publicly Instagrammed relationship with a much younger gal, chose a soundtrack of a remix of his own stand-up routine for his profile, and that is maybe the funniest thing he ever did.

The bummer about Raya is that it's sort like if the Soho House were an app. For every talented or creative person on there, you find seven DJs, four brand experts with too many photos of their own sneakers, and 12 human fedoras.

I remember going out with a blindingly handsome actor I met on that app. He had me meet him at a vegan restaurant, and I was politely asked to leave by our server because my food allergies made dining there "unsafe" for me. He and I ended up going to the coffee place next door and drank matcha, and I asked him about his career while I nodded and smiled through my social anxiety. Industry dates with no chemistry are general meetings with beverage-bringers you have to tip.

It's silly and unfair that the things we need to succeed at dating — kindness toward ourselves and others, fearlessness around confrontation, radical honesty, selflessness, excellent boundaries — are virtues that people in the world of entertainment traditionally and glaringly lack. On the other hand, you can't knock the narcissism of finding somebody who reminds you of you, and anybody who has their own IMDb page has got that base covered. (Oh no, another sports metaphor!)

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to everybody I've ever matched with on an app, only to cancel on or ghost them. And, in turn, I want to salute those who still manage to get their shoes on and hair combed and out the door in hopes of meeting somebody they hope one day to actually be able to love. Because it's scary putting yourself out there. It's exhausting and frustrating to feel like you keep playing the lottery even though you lose every time. And sometimes dating feels hopeless because it's hard to focus on something besides your work — over which you, if you're lucky, have control.

But as much as you criticize us, we who choose to toil in this mercurial, unfair, lunatic business, at least we're fortunate enough to love our work. So much, in fact, that we define ourselves by what we do.

It's nice to know that we're, at least, starting out with that in common.


Rating the Dating and Mating in L.A.

By Lindsay Weinberg

Maybe it is you, after all. Los Angeles' dating scene makes it the fifth best city in the U.S. for singles behind Atlanta, Denver, San Francisco and Portland (New York ranks 28th), according to a November study by personal finance website WalletHub. Perhaps because L.A. ranked No. 1 for attractions and coffee shops, it also scored the top spot for having the most active Tinder users (out of 182 cities), so there are plenty of willing fish in the sea. But if you suspect your dates who work in entertainment are ghosting more often, you may be right: Industry users on The League app are 17 percent pickier than the average L.A. user and 12 percent flakier.

This story also appears in the 2018 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.