Sometimes dating can be an exhausting endeavor.
I joined Coffee and Bagel for two reasons: you (theoretically) only get one match a day, solving the “Who the hell has time to online date?” question; and I thought I could probably blog about it later.
I embarked on a text conversation with a guy, and I thought, “Oh look, we’re already having a back-and-forth conversation. This is good!” But then he told me how video games are the future and did I ever think about writing for games, with the heavy implication that novels were…I’m not sure what exactly, but definitely not all that. And then I was done.
The highlight of my first month on Coffee and Bagel was a week-long stint of texting a guy who was sick (so we couldn’t meet in person), culminating in a random text he sent after midnight, apropos of absolutely nothing, that simply stated, “anger.”
Oh, dating. You can’t make this stuff up. And I’m sure it will shock no one to learn that we never did meet.
I hesitated to write this blog post. We are all so fond of being presented with the positive spin, and talking about how tiring dating can be dodges this requirement.
Buck up, I am told, there are many fishes in that metaphorical sea. I have met a lot of those fishes. I know there are a lot of them because occasionally they swarm, and you have to graciously say no to one or more people while never letting on that you have recently been in tears over another.
It’s all part of the game, right? At least until you put your foot down and refuse to play by other people’s rules.
It’s interesting to date as a recovering people pleaser. I still overwork. I still forget sometimes that my needs are important. I still tend to be a bit too nice, a bit too ready to extend the benefit of the doubt.
But I reach the point of recognition much more quickly. The “oh wait, this is complete bullshit” moment. The “huh, no matter how I spin this, there is something uncool going on right now” moment.
And my friends keep me honest. Once I have the moment, I make myself tell them about it. Not because I actually think I will waver, but just to be safe. And because they will usually be kinder to me than I would be to myself, and I think that helps to balance things.
One of the problems of changing old patterns is that they feel familiar. They feel right. They are what you are used to. It is sometimes hard to even consider the possibility of them being different. Imagination can fail when what you’re attempting to picture is so foreign to your model of how the world works.
One of the amazing things about having a support system is that I have surrounded myself by people who treat me well. For quite some time I was nonplussed by this notion. It seemed weird. Uncomfortable. Stressful, even, like I’d have to figure out ways to live up to it. Or like it might be taken away again at a moment’s notice.
And then I began to settle in. I began to become used to being treated well. I began to think I deserved it. I began to be able to be more authentically me, to allow myself to express more affection and more emotion in general.
I even began to demand it.
When I experience an “oh, this is bullshit” moment in dating, it can be more exhausting than it might be for a person not trying to change old patterns. My body kicks into fight or flight mode. It sometimes feels like my survival is at stake. I have to remind myself that things are different now because suddenly they don’t feel so very different.
This is why I prefer not to be alone at such times. Having a friend there, whether in person or on the phone, is a tangible reminder that yes, things really are different. That yes, the support system really exists and there are people out there who care about me and will treat me well. I hate needing this reassurance. I hate the vulnerability of it. And I am so grateful to receive it.
Here, then, is a dilemma with dating. It takes time and effort. It can definitely be absurd enough to make me laugh. Sometimes it also makes me very tired. And in the meantime, I am surrounded by people who love me. I threw myself into making my life as awesome as possible, and it worked better than I thought it would.
What this means is that a lot of dating simply doesn’t measure up to what I already have. Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing. Because what I want is the dating that does measure up.
Let’s hope I know it when I see it.