One thing that’s always hit a nerve with me is the phrase, “You can’t hurry love.” Yes, it’s a Diana Ross song, but singles usually get this phrase in one form or another from well-meaning friends whenever they’re feeling particularly down.
The problem with waiting for love, and it’s less intense next-of-kin waiting to date, is that it’s discouraging in many ways. For me, I know that the main discouragement was the fact that it never felt like a choice. Having never been in a relationship, and only a couple of dates, something like “you can’t hurry love,” never addressed my feelings of helplessness. I never felt that I was even capable of getting a decent date or attracting wanted attention. It was as if I was either in a terrible drought, or drowning in a sea of people who weren’t my type.
So a few months ago, I decided that I was ready to start trying – to “put myself out there” (another frustrating phrase, in my opinion) – and thanks to the encouragement of my friends, I signed up for a dating site. It wasn’t dedicated to finding “the one,” and there were plenty of younger singles near me who used the site. I started talking to a few prospects – already doing something absolutely new to me – and gained confidence in my own attractiveness.
Well, I went on a date – out to coffee, something simple that could be 15 minutes or 3 hours. I thought of it as a pre-date. My date was sweet, attractive, attentive, and definitely interested. I left the coffee house feeling like I had finally entered the adult world of dating, and may possibly get into a real relationship for the first time.
A few hours later, I was lying on my floor, telling myself to take deep breaths. Despite having been on a lovely and very normal date, I had a delayed freak out.
What’s wrong with me?! I wondered. I’m an adult, I went on a lovely date, the guy was sweet – so why was I freaking out?
I finally realized… I wasn’t actually ready to start dating.
At least, I’m not ready to do the type of dating that I always thought more mature people did – the kind where you simply go on a date with someone you may know a little. I realized that in that type of dating, I become overwhelmed by the fact that you’re supposed to be romantic and flirty on these dates. I’m simply not a flirty person by nature, but with this kind of dating you’re supposed to flirt. I have a romantic heart, but I’m not going to be romantic towards someone I’ve only just met. Doing either of those things feels forced, like I’m putting up a false personality, and it overwhelms me.
It was a frustrating realization, because I had always imagined (and been told through books, movies, and television shows) that young twenty-somethings were supposed to be dating. But after some soul-searching, and some very good and truly encouraging talks with my friends, I was able to see my post-date collapse in a positive light:
No matter how lonely I may have felt at any given time, my subconscious was trying to tell me that I was not truly ready to date.
I lamented in a previous post that my perfect dating style looked more like becoming friends instead of what I thought was ‘true dating.’ But I was wrong to complain about that – modern dating is, in its own way, too fast for me.
Not only is dating too fast for me, but the idea of being in a physical relationship freaks me out. Being around someone and talking to them is fun, but thinking about doing anything *ahem* squishy with someone I don’t know very, very, very well intimidates me.
So, after realizing all this, a quote like the one below suddenly makes a lot more sense (and feels a lot less frustrating):
After going on this date, I do know more about ‘love.’ I know more about what kind of a love I’m looking for; I know that I don’t want to date someone I don’t feel absolutely comfortable being myself around; I know that I’m going to want to take things super, super slow but also very casually.
But even more than that – my experience has taught me that I’m attractive and able to get dates; that I want to get to know someone in person before I go on a date with him; and it has allowed me to choose to be single.
Up to this point, being single had never been a choice for me. Most of my friends have been lucky enough to either be in relationships or to go on dates frequently, which has left me feeling lonely more often than I’d like to admit. But now, thanks to this experience, I feel like I can be more confident in being single.
I’m not saying that people who are single, who haven’t been on dates, cannot make the decision to remain single. What I am saying is that it took going on a lovely date to realize that I’m ready to remain single, and that I really “can’t hurry love.” I’m not expecting for the phrase “you get a relationship when you’re not looking for one” to come true, or for the Disney gods to drop a Prince on my doorstep. I’m expecting love – or really just dating – to come naturally, when it feels right.
Carl Jung said loneliness is “being unable to communicate the things that seem important.” I felt alone because I couldn’t actually tell myself that waiting for the right guy was truly what was important to me. So until then, I’m choosing to stay single. And it feels really, really good.
Enjoy some lovely, and one funny, quotes!
[From The Fault in Our Stars]