Everything I Don’t Want You To Know About My Dating Life.
So… are you seeing anyone right now?”
A common question I hear — coming from old friends, new acquaintances and occasionally strangers. Usually it’s brought up after we’ve discussed just about everything else that’s going on in our lives. At that point, it seems appropriate for the other person to ask what might be an intrusive question for me.
“No, not right now… I’m just not really looking at the moment.” Is how I usually respond. I figure that’s close enough to the truth.
After a while, I have to wonder if the same friends get tired of asking only to keep getting the same response. In any case, I appreciate their curiosity in wanting know what’s going on with me.
I’ve had several friends share their hangups with dating — we all have. I’ve also read countless (four+) articles describing the “dating scene”, and how difficult it is for people to find a partner these days. Most of what’s out there sounds pretty disheartening, but not all of it. In general, the whole affair doesn’t sound like much fun — but to be honest, sitting outside of it hasn’t been much fun either.
After all, do I have to let another year go by with me saying that I’ll just “love myself” first, before looking for any kind of relationship?
(All the while, having a longing for intimacy that everyone around me is probably aware of.)
Just a few weeks ago, I attended a meetup group where people get to bring up any issues they’re experiencing, and receive feedback from other participants. In that particular meeting, one woman brought up how she hadn’t been in a relationship in several years.
Right away, everyone in the room could relate to what she was saying. Not only that, but we were all glad she brought it up, as it’s something people usually don’t get to talk about openly.
At the time I didn’t have any advice to offer; few genuine words of encouragement as I hadn’t quite figured out this area of my life. As the meeting played out, I was caught up reflecting on my own experience…
Before I go on, I ought to lay out some relevant stats about me:
Time since last relationship: Almost 5 years.
# of dates since then: … Very few.
It’s a bit embarrassing to be writing about this, since it seems like everyone else is doing a lot better than me (this is a competition, right?).
And it’s difficult to explain what exactly I’ve been doing throughout all that time. I was trying to figure out my career before getting involved in any kind of romance. At least, that’s been the ongoing narrative in my head for about as far back as I can remember. I’ve also been living with my parents, so most of the time I took myself “off the market” so to speak. But the reality was that most of the time, I never saw myself as being worthy of being in a relationship.
There were short bouts of wanting to find dates to go on, too. At one point, I was working with a life coach to get me out of my comfort zone and introduce myself to women who I’d meet in public. Sometimes I’d bug my friends for their accountability so that I’d actually follow through on this.
Despite my clumsiness, that usually led to some pleasant interactions. Not much in the way of dates or relationships, but fun conversations nonetheless.
Eventually I’d find some way to chicken out, though. I’d decide that something else should be a priority in my life — some project, job or other endeavor would take shape, and I’d put dating off to the side. No matter how many people told me to just go for it — that I have plenty of qualities that someone would be into, I still never felt content with myself.
In the end, those jobs came & went, some projects crashed and I wound up where I started in this whole career game, too — and back at my parents’ place.
Almost two years ago I decided to move temporarily to another country (Bali, Indonesia), and thought that might shake things up a bit for me. What stood out to me most, underneath the sense of awe and excitement of being in a new country, were the recurring doubtful thought patterns that I’ve carried with me all along.
However, one of my few dating experiences brought me a brief moment of clarity. Having spent a day together exploring the area, I took my date back to her hotel in the evening.
(No, “that” didn’t happen, but it was a memorable experience nonetheless).
We laid down next to each other on her hammock and she was quickly falling asleep besides me. My mind raced — not to make anything happen in this situation, but just surprised by how normal it felt to be in someone’s company.
Looking up at the stars, I couldn’t help but think to myself…
About all the time I’d spent alone, wishing I was someone or somewhere else.
About the books & articles I’d read on dating and relationships.
About my friends’ advice to improve my dating life.
And after all that, realizing that this sweet experience I’ve been robbing myself of…
Was just a natural thing for two people to do.
Although I might not be the most “successful” in the dating world, I won’t look back on my experience as being totally fruitless.
After all, the love I’ve received from women came in many different forms that didn’t involve having sex — whether that be support and encouragement, guidance, or affection. Maybe my Bros will say that I ended up in the “Friend Zone”, but between those particular women and I — I don’t wish that our relationships were any different. To do so would be overlooking the impact they had on me.
Maybe I had to go through all that time being “alone” for me to realize:
I don’t need to be inside a woman to know that I’m alright as a person.
But hopefully I won’t spend another few years telling myself the same thing :o).
In either case, I hope someone reads this and feels they’re not alone, after all.
With love — thanks for reading,