The other day, I told my friend I was a freak of nature. At 34 years old, I’ve never reallllly dated. I’ve got two ex boyfriends and a smattering of first (and sometimes second) dates under my belt, but I’ve never been a dater. Instead, I’ve spent the majority of my adult life doing something far worse. I’ve pined. I’ve been the queen of pining.
There are a lot of things about my (relatively non-existent) romantic life up to this point that can be really f-ing hard to admit in print. Things like…1) I didn’t go on a single date in college, despite living in NYC (hello dating mecca) because I spent those four years either pining for one of my best guy friends or obsessing over a guy from back home that was bad news, or 2) I didn’t have the guts to make the first move with a guy I was interested in until well past my 30th birthday. Sure, there are a lot of reasons for this, and yes, I’ve spent many hours dissecting them. A lifetime of fallout from my parents’ contentious divorce? Check. Struggle with major depressive disorder and crippling anxiety since junior high? Check. Run of the mill hang-ups and insecurities that anyone who is human and on the lookout for a romantic parter has? You betcha. And while it’s hard for anyone to put themselves out there, for these reasons (and others) being single has been the way of my life.
Wow – this post became a bit of a downer. Sorry ’bout that.
For me, the past couple of years have been about reassessing and resetting my life. Although I wasn’t actively looking for love, I knew I needed to make the next chapter one I was so incredibly passionate about that I wouldn’t have the bandwidth to worry about aforementioned hang-ups. It started with getting a real handle on my mental health. Although depression and anxiety are something I’ll always have to deal with (and yes, anyone who ends up in a long-term relationship with me will most likely have to contend with at some point), I’m proud of the control I have now. No major depressive episodes in almost two years. (Fist pump and knock on wood). After many months of therapy and soul searching, I decided to quit my job and move cross country to settle in Nashville.
Shortly after my move, I started talking to a guy on Tinder. We exchanged numbers immediately, and I quickly fell head-first into pining 2.0. Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t divulge too much, but long story short – we ended up as pen pals for several months, talking nearly every day over text or the phone. Most of our conversations were sexual in nature, and I became emotionally invested in a guy that couldn’t (then wouldn’t) meet in person. The entire time we were in communication my gut was telling me it was never going to work. I waved hello and goodbye to every red flag that popped up as I flew by them, falling deeper into my crush and ignoring all the warning signs. I know I’m not the first (or last) person who has ignored all of the hazards flashing “turn back – danger ahead!” It’s a choice I willingly and knowingly made. Of course I felt foolish when it all came crashing down.
I gave myself a few days to be sad and curse my own foolishness. I realized that my sadness wasn’t so much about him as it was about feeling a little lonely in a new city. I’ve got some great friends here, but I haven’t been here long enough to have those deep bonds and friendships like the ones I left behind. They’ll come, and over time I won’t feel the same pangs of loneliness. Patience has never really been my strong suit.
The new year rolled in, and with it, some tough love from my best friend a few time zones away. I decided this would be the year I finally dive head first in to dating “for real.” No eggs going in one basket by dating one person at a time. Different dudes. Different dates. Different days of the week. Time to test the waters and see what’s what. Time to get better at managing first date jitters. Time to stop worrying about rejection from Tuesday Tim because I’ve got Saturday Sam to prep for. Dating is a numbers game, and I’m dealing myself in. (Bad analogy, but you get where I’m going with it, right?)
By the time I went back to work after the holidays, I had three dates lined up. I just went on number 3 of 3 last night, and yes, recaps are forthcoming. For the first time in my life, I’m discovering that, despite the messiness and bumbling beauty of meeting potential mates, dating can be a lot of fun if you let it.
So while I might not actually be a freak of nature, it’s hard not to feel that way sometimes.
If you’re reading this blog, I hope you’ll stick around to share your experiences and advice. Fingers crossed you’ll be able to help me answer the questions I’ll have on the road to finding out once and for all – Am I dating this right?