Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Single in Scandinavia
Comment: Hey Moxie,
Your blog has been very helpful in my sometimes less-than successful navigation of online dating after I split up with my boyfriend four years ago. Thank you for all your advice; a lot of it has been an eye opener and has given me more of a spine.
I’m not going to lie to you – I had hoped to meet someone a little special by now and with my 28th birthday looming, I have friends and relatives both doing what I like to call the “circle of side-eye” at my lack of a plus one. Also… I feel lonely. I see my friends with boyfriends and I can’t help but feel a little diminished when I go to bed alone at night. I am trying my hardest to not let that get to me but I am being totally frank / honest with you.
I’ve been single for 4 years. I think two international changes of location have had a small factor in this, but some or most of it must be down to me considering the time span. I know I have flaws which I work on in my spare time (insecurity, tendency to be needy) but I have a few good things too (humour, try to be kind, I’m no supermodel but not a gargoyle either, I keep fit and healthy, good career in a creative field, I like art etc). I also try not to date ‘above my level’ (I read this on your blog early on) and will always show my harshest friend images to see if they are ‘too hot for me’ etc. I’d go so far as to say that I am scared to date someone I see as ‘out of my league’. I’m doing my best but there is clearly still room for improvement.
I recently deleted my Tinder account after a guy ghosted on me after 5 dates. I know that isn’t many, but I tend to get emotionally invested after I sleep with someone and I although I can now surmise he was just looking to get laid (although it really didn’t seem that way at the time, but ho hum) Which, ok, it was fun, but it meant my self esteem really got a knock. This isn’t the first time it has happened to me, and so I am taking a break on dating to collect my thoughts on it. I was particularly sorry about this one because he seemed to have a lot of qualities I appreciated and we had views, humour and interests in common. I’ll get over it, but after years of use I doubt I’ll go back to Tinder again. There really is something about it as a platform that encourages even the most reasonable men to behave a little less kindly.
My future strategy is to meet people through friends or parties and try to foster a friendship before making a romantic move. And to hold off having sex whilst I figure someone out. (Although I feel sometimes this is an impossible thing to know – sometimes dudes through no fault of their own get turned off after sex OR they’re just pulling player moves) I really resent the fact that I can’t ‘have sex like a man’ but after years of trying, you know what? Perhaps it just isn’t something my emotions will let me do. Hopefully that doesn’t make me any less of a feminist.
What I wanted to ask you was – what advice would you give someone of my age dating? How can I plug this feeling of loneliness, it sneaks up on me at times even though I’m in an exciting new country, meeting new friends and having a great time with my other interests (drawing, writing etc) Should I go back to Tinder and online dating, or continue to foster my interests in the hope that I’ll just bump into someone special? Or am I just going about this in a horrid way – I hope it is not weak to desire a boyfriend – and it isn’t like it is on my mind 24/7, but it does catch me off guard at times.
Hopefully this wasn’t too long.
Tinder has been a dating game changer and upended online dating as a whole. Dating apps have made all things digital dating related extremely loosey goosey and encouraged people to invest the least amount of effort possible. Many users get so caught up in the matching “game” aspect of these apps that they forget they’re supposed to be there to meet people. People are now conditioned to just swipe left or right arbitrarily with very little thought invested. That’s why the flake factor is so high. People get so caught up in seeing how many matches they get that they don’t want to stop. The end result is less engagement overall. While online dating always involved some level of struggle, Tinder has exponentially increased the degree of difficulty and made people that much less accountable.
The first order of business here is that you need to start trusting your own instincts. It’s great that you have friends who will be honest with you, but you can’t drag them around with you everywhere you go. You need to wean yourself off of asking them what they think of things and make your own decisions. And remember something else: most women have no clue what men find physically attractive. So, while your friends might mean well, they could ultimately be doing more harm than good. They are not you. You know what sort of guy typically pays attention to you. Base your choices on your experiences.
You also need to stop beating yourself up because you’re not Super Independent Single Woman 100% of the time. You’re a human being with thoughts and emotions. You are not some impenetrable super hero. Of course you’re going to be spooked when a guy ghosts after sex. But the biggest mistake we make in that situation is presuming to know why a guy did what he did. You have no idea why he dropped off the face of the earth. Maybe he got back with an ex or his life got crazy or he died. Or maybe he just decided, after 5 dates, that things weren’t clicking. Who knows? Our default reaction is to take these rejections personally, and often times they have very little to do with us. If you keep telling yourself you were just being used for sex, then that’s going to be your narrative and you’re going to become more and more afraid and ambivalent. As hurtful as it feels to be blown off like that, you have to develop a thick skin. Nowadays dating is Brutal with a capital B. People just leave. It’s scary.
There are two things every single person of any age needs in their dating arsenal. The first is a strong sense of who they are. The second is resilience. You have to know what you bring to the table and what your limitations and flaws are so that nobody can tell you otherwise. Self-awareness and social aptitude are crucial if you want to navigate the dating scene without blowing your brains out. Being able to bounce back even though your self-esteem is smarting is also critical. Everybody gets ghosted. Everybody gets rejected. Everybody gets blown off. These experiences are universal. That’s was dating is now. You can not internalize these experiences so deeply that you develop analysis paralysis.
As for “having sex like a man”… that’s not a thing. That’s a concept invented by women. Men and women are both capable of having no strings sex. The difference is that women are programmed from an early age not to and that there’s something wrong with her if she does. You’re not a failure or an embarrassment to feminism because casual sex isn’t your thing. Some people like it. Some people don’t. You are not defective if sleeping with someone without commitment doesn’t work for you.
Now for the tougher question. How do you stave off the loneliness? I’m not sure you can. Loneliness is a natural emotion. It’s not a sign of weakness. Like you said, it can sneak upon you. One thing I’ve learned in therapy is to be able to talk myself through those moments. I remind myself that this feeling is temporary and just how I am feeling today. I also try to be as kind to myself as possible in those weaker moments. When that voice in my head pops up and whispers, “See? Nobody wants you” I shoo it away by reminding myself that how I’m feeling in that moment isn’t real. It’s just a momentary lapse in confidence and it will pass. You have to clap back at yourself sometimes and put the discouraging and negative side of You in her place.
My advice is to stay on Tinder and continue to use online dating as a means to meet people as well as branch out socially and try to meet people offline. You have to go where the people are, and the people in your age bracket are on Tinder and OKCupid and Match. It’s fine to take a step back here and there to regroup, but don’t sit things for too long. You’ll psyche yourself out.
How do you guys handle it when someone you really like fades on you? Have you ever taking a dating break? Has
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