When you’re single, people want to know all about your dating life. They want to know if you’re “putting yourself out there” and “keeping yourself open to love.” I remember witnessing an exchange between a good friend and one of her (married) friends, and the married friend was admonishing my friend that she wasn’t trying hard enough when it came to dating. She needed to try harder because… well, because why? Because the only goal in life is to get married? Because the only way a person can be happy is to be in a relationship?
It’s an exchange that always stuck with me, mainly because I don’t have people in my life who pressure me when it comes to dating. My mom isn’t making snide comments about my chronic singleness and how she “wishes she could have more grandbabies.” (This is probably the only time her getting married too young to a guy who didn’t treat her right works in my favor.) My friends are happy to listen to my dating stories, but don’t make me feel bad for being 30 and single… or when I was 29 and single or 28 and single or 27 and single, and so on.
When I was thinking about giving up online dating for the entirety of 2018, I made a poll on InstaStories about it. Honestly, I thought I’d get 100% of responses that “yeah, girl, give up the dating apps!” but I didn’t. It was around 70%, which is still the vast majority of my friends, but I was curious about the 30% who thought giving up the apps was a bad idea. (Of course, after I published the poll, I realized I didn’t word it well, so it’s possible that people thought they were voting for the first option. Oops.) Even still, I received some messages about my giving up online dating that made me realize that people really believe that my worth as a human is directly linked to whether or not I’m dating.
It’s as if people don’t realize that single people can genuinely be happy on their own. We must be on the dating circuit or else… what are we even doing with our life? Do we realize that we’re not getting any younger and our pool of available partners shrinks with each passing year?
The truth is, I haven’t found any sort of happiness in dating for the past few years. It’s not fun for me to go on dates and get my hopes up, only to find them dashed by a guy who is much less interesting in person or who ghosts on me right after that first date. It’s not fun to message with guy after guy after guy, and have to try so hard to keep up conversation because, news flash, most guys are actually terrible at communication. I can’t tell you how many conversations have stalled because the guy doesn’t ask followup questions or gives me few-word answers. It’s not fun to worry about the physical aspect of dating and what I’m going to feel like I have to do in order to keep his attention and not make him think I’m a prude or a tease. If we make out in his car, does that give him license to shove his hand down my pants? (The answer is no, of course, but that doesn’t mean that the guy won’t think I’m a tease and thus, not worth his time.)
Dating is fucking exhausting, is what I’m saying. I was talking about this with a few friends, one of which is on the dating circuit like me and she’s an extrovert who has no problem meeting new people and making friends, and even she acknowledged how exhausting online dating can be. It’s a neverending quest of swiping and messaging and first dates and first kisses and texting and hopefulness and heartbreak.
It’s too much for me. I need a break. And so, I’m stepping away from the online dating world for all of 2018.
And you know what? It feels AMAZING. I feel a sense of peace and relief that I don’t have to worry about online dating this year. There’s always been this level of pressure to make sure I spent time every day to check in on my dating apps, swiping and responding to messages, and if I went a few days without checking in, I felt as if I was not trying hard enough with my dating life. As if all my opportunities were going to pass me by and I’d just be alone for the rest of my life.
But that’s not true. I firmly believe in the statement, “What is meant for me will never miss me,” which means that if I was meant to find love through online dating this year, I wouldn’t feel the peace that I felt when I deleted my dating apps. And since I did have that peace, it means this was exactly the right decision for me.
This doesn’t mean I’m not dating in 2018. I’ve told all of my friends that I am happy to be set up by them and I’m keeping my heart open for something to happen organically. But I’ve deactivated all of my online dating profiles and I’m not wasting my time on them this year.
I’m entering 2018 with zero expectations for my dating life. I may end up finding love this year, and I would be undeniably happy for that to happen because I would like to have romantic love in my life. I will also be 100 percent okay if this year passes with no dates and no romance. I just want to live my life without the pressure of online dating. My life is not made better by dating; it is made better by investing in my family and friends, by reading great books, by spin classes and naps, by long walks with podcasts, by traveling, by snuggling with my dog, by writing and Netflix and football. It is made better just by living and being.
The truth is, I am really happy being single. I love having as much alone time as I want. I love making my own schedule and not having to worry about anyone else. And, honestly, I’m the sole caretaker for a special needs dog and he requires a lot of time and attention. The logistics of dating is really difficult when my entire world is taken up with Dutch’s care. However, as happy as I am in my singleness, it’s not all roses. The green monster of jealousy rears its ugly head when I see engagement announcements and cute couple photos, which tells me that I do want romance for myself one day. But I’m also not rushing it. It will happen when it’s meant to happen.
And for now? Now, I’ll just enjoy life on my own. A life where I get to read and nap as much as I want.