The Dating Continues…

I hate to leave things hanging so now that it is almost the end of September, I should tell you how my August dating challenge ended up. The goal was to go on one date a week and I managed to almost do that (if going out with the same guy in two different weeks counts and I say it does) before things with the Sommolier came to an end in late August. Technically, I was one week short but I did go out with one more guy (“the artist”) in early September. As a recovering perfectionist, I say this counts as success.

I won’t say too much about “the artist” at this point except that he is a very interesting (and cute) guy who has managed to get to a fourth date, which does not happen often.

Earlier this week, I reflected back on my dating life and realized that I have been on dates with more guys in 2013 than in the 5 years before 2013. And there were no long-term relationships in those 5 years, just not a lot of dates.

So when people ask me why such a fabulous and attractive (and clearly modest) woman is still single at my age, I can definitely say that one big reason is that I didn’t really date.

I may have mentioned (repeatedly) that I don’t like dating. Going out with 8 different guys in 2013 has not been all fun and games. Mostly, it is a huge pain in the ass. Finding a night that works, picking a place, making conversation, figuring out how to end the date, deciding whether or not you want to have another date, getting your feelings hurt, hurting other people’s feelings. Fun, fun, fun.

I’m not sure if it’s getting easier the more I do it, or it’s just as hard, but I keep doing it anyway. In the past, one annoying online date would send me back into hibernation for months or years, and I have stayed in more than one bad relationship just because I didn’t want to deal with finding someone else.

This year, I have managed to just keep getting back out there. I am no longer avoiding it, I am pushing through it. It has been a pain in the ass, but I have also met some interesting people, had some stimulating conversations, learned more about myself, shared some intimate moments, received some hilarious text messages, and opened myself up more.  The yin and the yang. You can’t have the good without the bad, right?

The dating will continue. The challenges of the first date are not the same as the challenges of the fourth date. The stakes get bigger, things get more complicated, more feelings are involved, things get more confusing. I do look forward to the day when the benefits outweigh all of this hard emotional work (and logistical scheduling!) But I also realize that the emotional hard work is never really done, not if you want to live a rich, full life with human connection, which I do (with some TV mixed in, of course!)

The Thin Line Between Fear and Disinterest

Since I wrote about tackling that last duck, I have been doing a lot of thinking about exactly how I will “get out there” and I find myself asking the same questions I have asked myself in the past.

What things am I avoiding, that I might actually enjoy if I get over my nervousness about it, and what things do I really just not have interest in?  Should I force myself to do things I am not really interested in if there is a chance to meet interesting people?  Am I trying hard enough?  Then I get all tangled up and I am sometimes not even sure what I am interested in.

Today, I realized I am in a much better place to answer those questions than I have been in the past.

I was thinking this morning that my calendar for the foreseeable future is blank.  I am in job limbo and not really sure what my next job will be and when it will start.  I have no vacations planned and almost no social events on my calendar.   In the past, this circumstance would leave me feeling down, stressed, and thinking “I have nothing to look forward to.”  Today, I am feeling completely OK with this.  It feels like a blank slate and I am kind of going day to day.  I am confident that I will make the right choices when they are presented to me and that the future will unfold the way it is supposed to.  As I write these words I am verklempt thinking about how far I have come to be this new person.  I think a little Yoga, even less meditation, and a lot of therapy has gotten me here. (Unlikely the itty bits of meditation have contributed but I will keep plugging away at that.)

To reinforce this feeling (of being a new person and overall more content), I also got a couple of comments on my last post reminding me that my 2010 goals really did get me out there more and I am totally on the right track.  I leave my house to do Yoga.  For 8 years I did yoga in my living room.  Sure there are only artsy tattooed women and gay men there, but I am out!  I threw a happy hour.  Huge!  I cooked dinner for my neighbors this week.  This is an example of something I was avoiding because I was nervous and it turned out wonderfully and was kind of fun!

I am going to stop beating myself up for not going on more walking tours, not joining a running club, and not attending singles events disguised as ways to make new friends.  These are not things I want to do.  If I purchase a non fiction book on a topic and actually read it, I am interested, and I might find something in the world to do related to that topic.  If an activity has actually crossed my mind 5-10 times, I am interested (i.e. hip hop dance class and indoor rock climbing, seriously.)  I am not going to let other people tell me what I should and should not do to meet men (and I assure you that everyone has an opinion on this.)

I am going to trust myself to distinguish between fear and disinterest (I might meditate on it if I am not completely sure), and will keep moving down the path I have put myself on.   If you build it, he will come.  And if he doesn’t, I have my TiVo, my Kindle, lots of wonderful friends and family members, and the greatest city in the world to keep me company (unless of course I move to Cambridge where I hear there are lots of fabulous bald men wandering around.)  Bring it on.

The Last Duck

I have been pondering my 2011 Goal Setting exercise and here is the deal.  In 2010, I got a lot of ducks in a row.   Health is good.  Finances are in order.   Job situation looks good (although that could change lets assume that duck is aligned at the moment.)  Started lots of good stuff in 2010: more Yoga, meditation, less TV, more reading, volunteer work, non-profit connections, and some slow cooking!

There is really only one duck that need serious attention in 2011.  The dating/relationship duck.  Instead of making a list of nice-to-have goals, I am going to put all of my focus on finding a human being (specifically, a man) that I want to share my life with.  I am very grateful that all of the other ducks are accounted for at this time, which means I have no more excuses.

People say “just live your life and love will come.”  Not the way I live my life.  I am a horrible dater.  And when I say horrible, I mean I avoid it at all costs. I am just not good at putting myself out there.  Human connection can be disappointing.  (My TiVo, on the other hand, rarely lets me down.)

My conscious mind knows that human connection can also be fabulous and fun but the subconscious is much more powerful and mine is typically focused on the potential negative outcomes. As a result, when I am out and about with strangers, I send off a vibe of “don’t talk to me because I don’t feel like dealing with the fact that human connection is often disappointing” (although I would like to think it appears to the masses that I am just too cool.)

For those who don’t know me, I assure you, I am socially ept.  I have lots of friends and I am not a hermit.  I am attractive, smart, funny (and usually more modest.)  I just get in my own way when it comes to finding love.

This is the big enchilada.  The final fear that needs to be conquered (well not probably not the final fear, but it’s a big one.)  How the heck am I going to do it?

a) I have to keep making a concerted effort to get out there.  And “out there” has to be places where people that I might connect with will actually be.  I have not quite figured out where single, intelligent late 30s/early 40s men who don’t drink excessively and share my compassion for the world are hanging out, but I will keep looking.

b) When I am out there, I have to change my vibe to “I really want to meet you and I am so fabulous that you definitely want to meet me.”

c) Just the vibe probably won’t cut it.  I guess I have to take the initiative to actually speak to people.

I have been saying these things for years.  I edge myself out every once in a while and then find a million excuses to my head back in the turtle shell.  I am going to put all of my energy in to it this time and I just believe that the universe will send me something good in return.  I will do things I have done before but try to bring this new vibe in to the mix.  I will try new stuff and most importantly, try really hard not to avoid the stuff that scares the be-jesus out of me.

Hopefully, this time next year (or sooner would be nice), I will be talking about how I conquered this last duck.  And you will probably get updates along the way.