He texted 10 minutes before the date.
“I have to say, this sort of thing makes me incredibly nervous”
I asked him what made him nervous. Nerves, after all, are a part of any new experience, let alone dating. His response was nothing I’ve ever heard before.
“Anything involving other people”
He told me in our 3-day Tindr discussion that he was an introvert, but not something like this. I love socializing. In pre-COVID times, I was at an event at least once a week.
I’d always imagined being with someone that would go to some events with me. And as he told me about his 1 friend — or how the pandemic has had “zero impact” on his social life, I started to sink in my chair.
An older version of myself would’ve gotten lost in his cute smile. Ignored the obvious incompatibility. Told myself that I would adjust to anything as long as I could have him. But the next day, when he asked to go out again, I confidently said it.
“I don’t think we’d be a good match”
Because, hello, it’s true.
For most of my life, I’ve dated out of fear.
Every time I went out with someone, if I liked them, it was like holding sand. Slowly I would feel them slip away. I’d watch the pieces start to pour out of my fingers as I clenched tighter and tighter.
Until they were out of my grip.
It didn’t matter how wrong they were for me. It didn’t matter how they treated me. The thought of being alone — of not having them, was enough to send me into a spiral.
I would overthink their text messages. Obsess over their punctuation. Overanalyze their behavior until, ultimately, I ended up exactly where I started.
Back on some app.
But when you think about it, this is a fear response.
There is actually nothing wrong with being alone. And self-reliance is one of the most attractive qualities you can possess.
People who are confident enough to live on their own terms are driven to find someone that adds to their life, not someone that subtracts from it. A relationship is only a loss of freedom if you allow it to be.
And here’s another problem:
We make relationships our whole identity.
We fear that if we make it to our 40’s without a partner, we have failed one of life’s great tests.
Instead of sitting across from someone and honestly evaluating if they’re the right one for us, we give them the control. We don’t cut it off when they’re giving us little effort. We let them text us back 3 days later because we believe they are the only ones for us.
They are not. Nor will they be the last person you meet.
Even if you do die alone (although you probably won’t), you’re worth a lot more than ignored calls, bad texters, or someone that won’t go with you to see your favorite band. Or one that won’t try that new Chinese place down the street.
Too many of us are ready to jump.
Too few of us are ready to select a partner that enriches our lives.
It’s like choosing anything: A school. A job. An outfit. You’ve got to shop around in order to get the right fit.
And if, by fate, you don’t find that person: What’s the harm in living a life authentic and true to yourself? What’s the downside of being selective about those you allow into your life? Because, in the end, it’s not about being alone or not.
It’s about fulfillment.
You won’t find fulfillment with a wedding ring. You won’t find it on the latest dating app. And you sure as hell won’t find it in words.
You find when you’re unafraid of being alone.
Previously published on medium
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