Serial dating is a bleak enterprise fraught with disappointment, inexplicable rejections, and dead end encounters. I imagine this is what actors feel like on an endless audition loop, getting excited about a prospect, delivering a great performance, and waiting anxiously for the phone that never rings.
This type of emotional roller coaster could make even the hardiest among us reach for the barf bag. When dating fatigue sets in, it’s best to extinguish Tinder, give Grinder the heave ho, and clip OKCupid’s wings.
After my fateful encounter with a flakey Australian who left me reeling for five days, barely able to function, I knew I needed to take a step back and examine why and how this one person I barely knew was able to decimate my self-confidence and productivity. Left guessing as to what had transpired between his offer of making me French toast and his total disappearance (and silence even in the face of an invitation to accompany me to a Vanity Fair party), I had to check in with myself about what I bring to a relationship and why anyone would (or wouldn’t) want to date me.
I decided it was time to take myself off the market until I could heal my wounded pride and figure out why I have been unable to attract the right person. We are destined to make the same mistakes over and over again if we don’t step back and take stock of our current situation. Doing so makes us more confident, aware of our strengths and weaknesses.
One a particularly lonely night this week, when not even Bill Maher could console me, I sat on the couch and made a list of the positive and negative qualities that someone might see me in — I suggest you do to the same.
1. Get back in touch with yourself.
While dating, so much of our mental energy is expended thinking about someone else. We are fantasizing about a blissful future together, trying to decipher the subtext of their chosen Emoji, or obsessively checking the phone for a response to a text sent five minutes ago. Instead of outsourcing your feelings of self worth to someone you just met, think about the attributes that make you special, as well as the things you need to work on. Reinforce a positive self-image to remind yourself that you are deserving of love.
2. Why do you want to be in a relationship?
Often times, most of the pressure to be in a relationship comes from external forces. Everyone else seems to be in one, so why aren’t you? Are you dating just because you feel that’s what you’re supposed to do? Are you afraid of ending up old and alone with eight cats in a studio apartment? These are highly motivating factors that encourage us to spend far too much time mining date sites in search of a suitor.
Think about the end goal – do you want to be married and start a family? Are you just looking for someone to have fun with for a while? Figuring this out can help reorient what types of dates you pursue.
3. Reallocate your time.
If you’re averaging two or three dates a week, that amounts not only to the time spent on the date, but hours in pre-date communication and planning. Think about all that could be accomplished if that time were suddenly free. You could work on a novel, take up painting or learn to play the violin. By enriching your life, you simultaneously become more interesting and appealing to others. Serial dating, on the other hand, is not a hobby that anyone finds attractive.
4. Reallocate your money.
Dating is expensive, especially if you’re a guy. As a straight man, you’re likely on the hook for buying dinner/drinks for both you and your date. As a girl, you’re probably buying new clothes and visiting the waxer more frequently. With this money saved, you could get an HBO subscription or buy Rosetta Stone to teach yourself Italian.
5. Attract more people by not dating.
By projecting an air of self-contentedness, you may find that suddenly more people ask you out — and in real life as opposed to virtual reality. The old axiom goes that a relationship happens when you’re least expecting it. This probably occurs because when you remove the fear and sense of urgency driving you to serial date, there is an inner calm that supersedes.
6. Recognize it might not be the right time.
It is entirely possible that you are not in a place in your life for a stable relationship. While you may crave the companionship and regular sex, what you may really need is a dog and a vibrator. Maybe you need to focus on your studies, your career, or you just haven’t had enough time to do the personal work on yourself to build a stable foundation for love. In this case, trying to find a relationship is premature and counterproductive.
If you can be honest about where you are in your life, then you might decide to abstain from dating, engage only in casual relationships, or conversely only accept serious proposals from candidates who (ostensibly) have their life together.
Of course, all that realized, I did accept two new date proposals this week. So onward and upward.