Why Does Dating Make Us Believe The Worst About Ourselves?

bad place2w


There I was this morning, eating my Raisin Bran and getting my Chris Cuomo fix on CNN. Cuomo was interviewing a man who had participated in a pen-pal service for civilians and inmates. Cut to a woman in a jumpsuit behind bars gushing about the man she met through an online personal ad. The man in question? Why, the handsome silver-haired Canadian being interviewed by Cumo. The inmate explained that what initially started as a platonic relationship soon blossomed into romance. Oh, and she killed people. People, as in plural.

I sat there on my bed cross-legged, my cereal bowl in my lap, milk dripping off my chin.

“She killed people!” I screamed at the TV. My cat nudged my bicep and rubbed her little head along my arm to soothe me. She. killed. people. I can’t even get a beer and plate of nachos from a guy on Tinder, but this woman convicted of homicide has a handsome boyfriend.  I mean, sure, there’s bars between them ninety-percent of the time they see each other and their sex life consists of conjugal visits in a sterile room with cement block walls, but still.

That’s where my mind went: the bad place. Instead of telling myself that the woman was an example of how anything is possible, I internalized the story and made it about how totally unloveable I must be and that I am just not destined to find anyone.

Why do we do that?

Obviously, such a glass half-empty approach is a manifestation of deeper issues, right? I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as an optimist, and I’m sure neither would any of you. It’s never that I’m single because I’m supposed to be right now or because I just never made it a priority.No. I’m single because nobody wants me. It didn’t help that two days ago my nephew sent me messages to berate me. He’s the son of my sister who died four years ago this week. He’s still angry over the decisions made during my father’s probate case.

“Cry about it you cunt.”

“And that’s why you’re single.”

“No wonder no one wants you.”

I’d like to say he’s a kid, but he’s actually a middle-aged man of almost thirty-five years old. So, yeah. Those comments were still rolling around in my head watching this news segment. My default is to assume the worst about myself.

I think that’s what most people do. We look at the string of “failures” we’ve experienced using platforms that – let’s face it – aren’t really designed to make things easier or help people actually find a relationship and we blame themselves.  And maybe, to some degree, it is our fault. Maybe we are too picky. Maybe we do have issues. But who says that can’t change?

I’ve always said human beings are capable of doing whatever it is they set their mind to doing. In my experience, whenever I have said I wanted to do something – truly wanted to do it – it came to me with ease. Own my own business? Done. Write a successful dating column? Done.  I gave little thought to either. I just went out at made them happen. It’s the things I’m apprehensive about – writing a book (which I’m still doing); having a relationship  – that I struggle with most. Why? Because I doubt my abilities. I’m a good writer, but I’m not a great writer. As for being someone’s partner, I sometimes feel held back by the trauma I’ve experienced. I suppose that’s why I go to the Bad Place every time I get rejected. I already feel like a failure, so the rejection only solidifies that belief.

I’ve been telling friends that I feel like The Universe is pushing me in a certain direction, far out of my comfort zone. Whatever guiding force is out there is trying to make me as uncomfortable as possible so that I don’t get complacent. And it’s working. Change is coming. I feel it. Better yet, I’m ready for it. Excited, even.  I made a decision and followed through and so far all the signs I’m getting say I’m on the right path. Now I just need to make the same forthright decision when it comes to love.

Maybe that’s all it takes – an unwaivering belief that it’s possible.





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24 Responses to “Why Does Dating Make Us Believe The Worst About Ourselves?”

  1. Parenting Says:

    This post really brought back memories and bummed me out. Im sure you are making mistakes in your dating life. Everyone is to varying degrees but when the forecast is that 25% of millenials will never marry, not because they all dont want to but because this is the world we live in. I’m sure there are a thousand sociologists theorizing and writing about the dropping marriage rate. I’m sure I dont have the answer. One thing I can say with some certainty is that 1 in 4 is not somehow unloveable.

    I honestly dont know what makes some relatively average (or even below average) people so hot on the dating market that they have multiple engagements and marriages. I’ve had many of the same insecurities you are going through when i was a middle aged never married and now that Ive been married, I assure you there’s no stamp of approval on my forehead. There are just new insecurities. The best you can do, IMO, is follow your own best advise and try not to get into your own head too much.

  2. Dark Sarcasm Says:

    Guarantee you that man was on a multitude of dating sites, and emailed women. No responses.

  3. Belle Says:

    That last line though… #truth

  4. Em Says:

    I’ve been a reader of yours for ten years, and I don’t comment often, but I wanted to thank you for sharing. I felt this way in the doctor’s office today, wishing that I had a husband with me.

  5. Noquay Says:

    I get it Moxie. Noquays life; starting at 17, educated my way out of an alcoholic, drug using, sexually abusive upbringing. Done. Did controversial research that resulted in my life being threatened, yet persisted. Done. Fought breast cancer totally alone. Done. Stayed in great shape despite my age, have 172 ultra marathon finishes to show for it. Done. Was in numerous environmental and social justice actions where I literally put my small body in front of folk carrying serious firearms yet stood proud and in dignity. Done. When in rships, I tried to be the best, most supportive partner possible. Also did absolutely, positively everything right according to your and other rship advice; kept healthy boundaries, recognized red flags, cut contact immediately upon discovering cheating. Where are the cheaters? Partnered or married. Where am I? Alone. Life ain’t fair and often it sucks.

    • UWSGal Says:

      It merits to point out that all these amazing accomplishments are not what makes us great partners and have next to zero value in the context of finding a relationship.

      • Noquay Says:

        I also was really supportive of my partners, vulnerable when needed, really there for them. Like I’d written, according to all you’re supposed to be to be a great girlfriend, I was. Didn’t matter. You’re right though, perhaps having done too much in life is a turn off to those that haven’t.

        • Ss16 Says:

          “You’re right though, perhaps having done too much in life is a turn off to those that haven’t.”

          This may very well be true. I have thought the same thing about myself as I am a very driven person and by the time I get to the age of most of the guys I dated (I tend to date older men), I will be much more accomplished than they are.

          That being said, I think most of us want a partner that is compatible with us, whether it is personality, values, attractiveness or in this case, level of achievement. It doesn’t matter that having done too much turns a lot of people off. If your partner is significantly less achieving than you are, you won’t like it in the long-term, either. You would likely look down on them or resent their lack of achievement or ambition. That’s why most of us date people within our “league”, and in this case, if we’re high-achievers, we date fellow high-achievers.

          • Parenting Says:

            Im sure theres a neanderthal or two out there who does feel that way but by and large men are not passing women by because they are intimidated by them. If that were true, the likes of Ivanka Trump, accomplished movie actresses and accomplished female athletes couldnt get a date. Most of the men I know love to brag about their wife’s achievements. I see it on facebook all the time.

        • UWSGal Says:

          It’s not really about achieving too much. I think that is highly irrelevant for most people. It’s about everybody constantly asking “what’s in it for me?”. Ok you (not you personally the toys you) have run 10 marathons and raised $1m for some non-profit but what’s in it for him? How does that make you a more desirable girlfriend material compared to someone who raised a butterfly garden, baked an apple pie and had her hair done? Men want their ego stroked and they want to be looked at with adoration and appreciation and god knows what else. Whoever does that best is their girlfriend. And it doesn’t matter to them how accomplished she is otherwise. Don’t get me wrong i think this is seriously fucked up and men are very shallow but that’s just how it is.

          • Parenting Says:

            Totally agree with you that men loved to be adored. I mean what else can explain Arnold Shwartzenager and his housekeeper?! Many men are happy being with the preschool teacher with the heart of gold but Ive noticed that a lot of guys I know also look to work their wife’s achievements into the conversation. It may be cultural. Maybe it matters more in certain cultures or certain metro areas more than others.

          • Noquay Says:

            I treated the last two with much love, respect, adoration. It just didn’t matter.

  6. Yvonne Says:

    Just because someone is in a relationship, doesn’t mean that it’s good or healthy. Plenty of people settle in order to be in a relationship, and you don’t know what their standards are. Would you really want to be involved with a serial killer, having conjugal visits? Just because that silver fox is good-looking doesn’t make him a emotionally healthy or a good judge of character either. Maybe occasional conjugal visits are all of a relationship that this guy can handle. If his girlfriend killed multiple people, she’s going to be locked away for a long time. I don’t envy him, I feel pity.

    All you really can do is keep being open to meeting someone. That’s it. I’m right there with you, though, it’s hard. But being single is always going to be better than being in a lousy relationship. And I’m sorry about the hurtful comments from your nephew. I hope he’ll someday regret them.

    • UWSGal Says:

      “Maybe occasional conjugal visits are all of a relationship that this guy can handle. ”
      ^^ This

      I was just thinking this. From this guy’s perspective she could be a perfect gf. available for sex 2x a month and locked up and cant bother him in between visits

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Maybe occasional conjugal visits are all of a relationship that this guy can handle.**

      Exactly. George Costanza in a silver fox disguise.

      **But being single is always going to be better than being in a lousy relationship**

      THIS x1000. That’s why The Worst Guy I Ever Dated left such an impression, because that’s when I finally (finally) learned that lesson.

      Everybody has those frustrating moments, though, where it seems like life is just SO much easier for everybody else, even really crappy, awful people.

    • Yvonne Says:

      I will also add that the fact that your nephew called you the “c” word is really abusive language. It’s not okay and makes me wonder his issues are. I can’t imagine calling a family member that.

      • Yvonne Says:

        FWIW, only 4 states allow conjugal visits and you must be married. The prsion must be low or medium security, so I’m not sure someone who committed multiple murders would qualify. So silver fox isn’t even getting that.

  7. Sarah Says:

    “I can’t even get a beer and plate of nachos from a guy on Tinder.”

    Have you tried killing people?

    Seriously, though: That guy on TV may have been handsome, but he CLEARLY has some other issues. The deal-breaker kind. The Freudian kind. If all you wanted was a relationship, you’d be in one. It’s much harder to find the kind you’re looking for. Beating yourself up over this is like feeling ashamed of not winning the lottery.

  8. Nicki Says:

    I don’t know why it is that we all look at situations like the one that you mentioned and then question what’s wrong with us. Plenty of great people are single and I know this, but I do the same thing you did when I see someone who I would like to think I’m equal to, or have more to offer than, partnered up. I want to tell you that you shouldn’t think that way, but I do, so how can I say that?

    Everyone has kind of nailed it, though. This silver fox probably has issues that you wouldn’t want to deal with if he was standing in front of you and wanting to date you. As the cliche goes, there’s someone out there for everyone.

  9. 40something Says:

    Yes, Charles Manson is married to a woman around 40 years his junior. Doesn’t mean he’s a catch!

    When we get rejected or not pursued, we have a tendency to believe we are fatally flawed. We are all flawed, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t desirable or loveable. Nothing of the sort. What some find appealing, others don’t.

    Hang in there. That darn holiday season has a tendency to bring certain feelings up.

  10. BTownGirl Says:

    I’ll tell you exactly what I told a friend who’s struggling last night…nothing’s working, until it is. No one likes to feel like they’re treading water or banging their head against the wall, but the only thing you can control is how you treat yourself! It’s so important not to fall into the trap of saying “How come so and so has x/y/z and I don’t? They don’t deserve it!”, because it’s not fair to you and tends to drive people away. I had to drop a long-term friend over that, so I’ve seen how corrosive it can be. Plus, in this example dude is dating A MURDERER. How stable can he be?

    Speaking of unstable, WTF with your nephew?! Seriously, WTF?! You don’t deserve to deal with that, so go ahead and block him. The holidays, man, they just dial everything up to 10000. There’s absolutely nothing “wrong” with you – sh*t, I have all the same neuroses and annoying habits I had before I met someone, trust. You’re on such an exciting new path right now (YEAH!!!), so enjoy it and don’t let the bs drag you down!

  11. CT Says:

    Calling someone a cunt is not ok. You are WELL within your right as a human to cut this person out of your life. Yeesh.

    We sometimes see that we have done “everything right” in our life, and that somehow a relationship is a reward for that. Shouldn’t we get what we want if we are good people? I have resolved to love my life wholeheartedly even if that means I am by myself. And you know what? I miss the connection and I miss contact. I miss the companionship and I miss the anticipation of a the good that can come from a healthy, loving relationship. However, I can live this life and fill it with all of the things I want without those things, and continue to keep my heart open to whatever life brings. Even if that means doing it alone. It may be uncomfortable, ugly, unfortunate, sad, lonely, but it also could be wonderful, contented, peaceful and lovely. Relationships are not rewards, there are no guarantees that the person sitting next to us will make our lives complete. I am doing my best to be in love with what I have. I have been trying to change the narrative in my head to say “You are doing just fine on your own” rather than “It would be so much better with someone else.” Not always easy, but somehow it has reassured me that I am doing just fine. I think that you have good things in your future. There will be people, places, things that will try to derail that despite it. Stay focused, keep your eyes on you, and take care of yourself. I think you are doing just fine, too.

  12. Noquay Says:

    I like the previous comment: plenty of great people are single. It may be demographics of where you live. It may be that your values simply are very different from those around you. It is damned hard though, after a while, not to start to take it personally regardless of how strong you are.

  13. Nia Says:

    A lot of times, the very things that made you successful as a single actually work against you when it comes to dating. Focused out outcomes, straight shooter, logical or critical thinking (which is fine but can be intimidating on first dates), focus and drive, and self-sufficiency.

    UWS Gal hinted at this with her comments: men often look at very successful or accomplished women and feel uneasy or unworthy, or they just don’t care about their degrees, marathons, charity work, or xyz.

    You can be successful, amazing, take excellent care of your body, and basically be a living saint, and that doesn’t guarantee a relationship. It’s really a lot of luck. I had a string of coincidences that led me to my last two serious relationships, and the casual ones that worked out were from networking groups—not online dating! I felt like I was constantly working and reworking my profiles, pictures, approach, and on and on, with no success. It was actually just dumb luck that I met my now BF at work and became friendly with him.

    It’s also location. I moved to the US from Asia, where I really enjoyed being, because I knew I wanted a partner and Asia just was not the place for a tall, full figured feminist career girl. I deliberately chose a target rich environment (“Menver”) and it took time, but in about 3 years, I found the dude I’m now very happy with.

    NYC and LA are notorious for being awful dating spots. Places were the culture is very conservative or not female friendly can be hard too. Small towns *could* work if you feel like you want a family and that nurturing thing.

    It’s all just luck and timing, really.

    For what it’s worth, I think a man bragging on FB about his wife is…eh, I don’t love it.
    For a couple reasons:
    It has more than a whiff of condescension (“look what my little lady did all by herself!”)
    It is bragging about HIS catch and HIS relationship (“I got a good one, didn’t I!”)
    It’s part of a “for show” social media presence.
    The most solid partners I know of quietly conduct their relationship with occasional shout outs ‘Partner Graduated Summa Cum Laude, congrats!” or what have you, not a constant stream of “ILOVEMYWIFESOMUCHOMGLOOKATHER”

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