Q. I (mid-30s, female) have been single for a few years now. The last couple of years have been pretty hard, as they were for many people, and I needed to take some time away from dating to take care of myself, as well as my family. I’m thankfully doing a lot better now, and as a result I’m trying to get back into dating more actively and intentionally this year.
I have a good support system, I’m going to therapy regularly, I’m actively planning trips and weekend excursions, I enjoy my work, and I volunteer weekly, so my life is pretty fulfilling as it is. But I do miss the intimacy and close companionship that comes with being in a relationship. And after a lot of work in therapy, I have a much better idea of what kind of partner I need, as well as what I need to do to be a healthy partner in turn, than I did in my 20s.
As I’ve been getting back on the apps and attending speed dating events, I’ve just been a little taken aback at some of what I’ve been encountering. I’m struggling to find single men in my age group and a bit older who … I don’t know, seem comfortable in their own skin, who are taking care of their emotional and mental health. To be fair, I don’t really think any of us have our lives completely together given everything happening in the world, and I’m not an exception to that! I guess I’m just wondering where to meet the single men who have a healthy definition of loving themselves and others.
OUT OF THE GAME
A. This is a numbers thing, I think.
On an app or at a speed dating event with a bunch of strangers, there are going to be a bunch of people you’d never want to date, and maybe a few you’d like to get to know better.
There’s some luck involved in finding the right people in the crowd. It can take a very long time.
Also, some people don’t show you all of themselves during a short interaction. They might be doing a lot of personal work, and might be wonderful on any other night. It’s hard to figure someone out in just a few minutes.
I wish I had advice beyond “be patient.” I’m sure others have told you to join groups (and apps) that expose you to new communities. Maybe some extra volunteer work — like getting involved with a festival that features art, books, or music you care about.
I can validate that it’s annoying, disheartening, and time-consuming, and sometimes it’s like … “ugh … why am I even looking?” Especially after a break. Especially when you’re like, “I’m ready, so why isn’t everyone else?”
Part of this is understanding that regardless of how good you feel, it’s still a long process that people make hit TV shows about. There are big ups and downs. Lots of plots that go nowhere. The thing that’s different now is that you’re better equipped to handle it if you get lucky and meet someone cool.
As running people say, it’s a marathon not a sprint. If we’re sticking with that metaphor, sometimes it’s more pleasant to walk the marathon route and enjoy scenery, take detours, stop to have some sandwiches, and have and find some good company along the way. You’ll get there eventually.
Your can’t possibly know who is taking care of his mental and emotional health through dating app interactions. It’s pretty presumptuous of you to make that assumption about someone you’ve never met.
You’re going to speed dating events and expecting people to be comfortable in their own skin? The whole setup lends itself to stress and self-consciousness. Will I be rejected, will anyone like me, will I be the person that no one chooses? Making calls about someone’s emotional health in a situation like that seems pretty unfair.
Yup, dating is a numbers thing. You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs. I’d be careful not to judge too much what you see on an app. Just because they don’t know who Tom Brady is doesn’t mean they aren’t a good match. My husband and I would never have met on an app. He spent the weekend skiing, I spent it at the spa. I practice a religion, he does not. But we value the same things and we’re on the same path.
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