One of my goals for May was to go on one date. This isn’t a particularly ambitious goal, and online dating gives me access to so many potential dates. I’ve got (hypothetical) options! So why am I three weeks into May, dateless, and only half-jokingly thinking that I’m going to be single for the rest of my life?
I dropped my dating life when I found myself with too much on my plate back in March. It’s been about a month and a half since then and I haven’t really done anything to get back to dating.
Sometimes I think I should really get going because I don’t want to find myself in a mad dash to find a man when I start getting close to 30. I’ve heard of that happening to people, and it’s possible that it could happen to me too. But on the other hand, I’m pretty comfortable just not dating at all.
Being single is just easy for me. I’m amazed by people who seamlessly transition from singledom to being in a relationship because I’m finding it to be an absolute struggle.
Can you relate?
I’ve always enjoyed being single, and I still do, even as I get older and am starting to feel more pressure than I used to about being in a relationship.
Being single is my status quo. It doesn’t really take any effort, I’m largely satisfied, and it suits my intense need to do my own thing and have my own space. I don’t need to be accountable to anyone and I can make major life decisions without needing to consider how it will impact a significant other. I don’t need to deal with the sting of rejection or that gawky stage of trying to get to know someone. I can just be myself with me, and I value the comfort of that. Being single is fiercely familiar. It’s comfortable. It’s safe.
On the other hand, dating is pretty uncomfortable for many people, including me. Even though it can be fun, it’s also awkward, disappointing, and rife with refusals and failure. I say this as someone who hasn’t had any particularly negative experiences, and if I’m honest, as someone who hasn’t had much experience to begin with.
The point of mentioning this is that I don’t think I’m jaded. I’m just intensely frustrated with what feels like the loss of peace of mind, personal freedom, and liberty from nonsense with little apparent return.
Texting someone everyday just to keep the conversation going largely feels like a chore. I think I’ve literally written text “Jason” on my to-do list for the day, alongside my schoolwork and the things I need to do for my job.
I really don’t like small talk.
I start getting tired an hour into a date.
I feel like I need a PhD in human behaviour to make sense of the games people play online.
I don’t like the pressure of trying to get to know someone before he or I or lose interest because we’re both getting interesting new profiles popping up on our apps every day and therefore mistakenly feel like perfection in a significant other is attainable.
I don’t like feeling that investing in one person isn’t smart if I don’t want to be played for a fool. Why would I do that when “Anthony” is probably talking to 50-11 women and can drop me like a hot potato at any moment?
That being said, I’ve definitely tried to make the best of it: making it a point to use dating as a way to check things off my bucket list, recognizing that I’ll learn and grow a bit from every date, savouring the attention, deciding that I’m going to enjoy myself regardless of how the date goes. But when the date ends and I’m heading home feeling tired, stressed, and confused about why I don’t like this guy, I have to wonder: does anyone actually enjoy this?
To be fair, online dating isn’t all bad. It’s a great way to meet people I would otherwise never come across, it’s amazing in terms of quickly getting information about guys I find interesting, and if I’m honest, it’s a really wonderful tool for getting over myself. One of the things I learned the fastest when I started dating online was that I’m not special, which is an oddly liberating thing.
Nevertheless, online dating feels terribly inauthentic at worst and a bad match for my personality at best.
Am I trying to get fine dining at McDonald’s? Am I looking for quality where there is quick, cheap convenience?
The thing that attracted me to online dating was that it required very little effort and yet seemed to yield an abundance of options. Now that I’ve tried it for a few months, it seems like that is my exact problem with it. Nobody, including myself, really wants to go all in, so we shuffle from first date to first date hoping to find someone that allows us to keep being wonderfully (woefully?) effortless.
The idea of meeting and getting to know someone offline, which previously struck me as a lot of work with far fewer options and little payoff, suddenly looks pretty attractive. Wouldn’t it be nice to take my time in getting to know someone? To slow down and not feel like there needs to be a “spark” present at our first ever face-to-face meeting in order for things to go anywhere? To have feelings for a guy before I go out with him?
But of course, that could turn out to be an irritation too.
Maybe the truth of the matter is that dating is just hard and I might have to wade through some discomfort, unpleasantness, and foolishness before I find something that I want to hold on to, or even give up my beloved singleness for. I’ve seen some of my happily-booed-up friends do the same, so I guess it works? Maybe?
I’ve read some great articles, like Remaining “SANE” in Singleness, about people who are finding healthy ways to cope with being single, but I need an article about healthy ways to cope with dating. Because this ish is difficult.
Even though I don’t like leaving the comfort of my single life, I do it because I realize that finding someone I’m compatible with could add an amazing dimension to life. I struggle when it comes to the uncertainty of getting there, though. I’m a planner. I like timelines, processes, steps, and logic. Unfortunately for me, dating doesn’t come with an instruction manual. It isn’t an equation that’s solved in a few rational steps. There is no input that guarantees me the output I want. Dating won’t fit in the box I want it in, and trying to wrestle with this is exhausting.
Since this blog is big on lessons, I think the thing that I’m learning is that clichés like “good things don’t come easy” are clichés for a reason. Sometimes things are just weird, tricky, and plain old vexatious (I got my thesaurus out for that one) and we have to find a way through them in order to get a shot at what we want.
There is another, more challenging lesson too: there is value in asking ourselves hard questions. If dating is so much of a frustration for me, is it something I really want to participate in? Or do I just need to change my approach? These aren’t the kind of questions that I’d typically answer in two minutes, but I do think they’re something I need to sit and think about for a while, even if they’re hard to swallow.
What about you: is/was being single easy or hard for you? Do/did you find dating hard? How did you deal with it?
Image via Emma Frances Logan @ Unsplash
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