The Truth About ‘Putting Yourself Out There’
This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
It’s only natural that when you’re doing a lot of dating, you’re going to encounter a few bad eggs.
I’ve had a handful of less than positive dating situations occur over the past several months. An inappropriate selfie being sent to me (and I ain’t talkin about ‘sexting’). A few dick pics (I literally never wanna see that). Someone I thought I was getting to know pretty well who ended up having some unexpected anger issues.
I recently asked friend about this: how is it that you can feel like you’re really getting to know someone, and then they throw a deeply unwanted curveball at you?
“Yeah…people are really good at hiding their crazy” he said.
BINGO. (I mean, me included.)
Since I started GGE, the #1 thing people are dying to tell me about (once they hear that I write a dating blog) is the CRAZY SHIT that’s happened to them and how they’ve been WRONGED.
And I get it! One of the main reasons I started writing here was to commiserate on the shared experience that is dating. And often it’s a wacky/negative experience – that’s only natural. Ya gotta kiss a lotta frogs, right?
But how much shit exactly do we have to go through? What’s the breaking point?
I’ve reached it a few times in my life. Where negative dude situations just really turn me off dating, or men, or relationships in general for a while.
Sometimes it’s the feeling of rejection. Feeling like you and the person you’re dating are on the total same page only to discover that you aren’t.
Other times, you get completely ambushed. An incident occurs with the person you’re dating that leads one of you to immediately break off the relationship.
And every once in a while, you just make a mistake. You do something to hurt someone and they no longer have interest in continuing the relationship.
When something goes “wrong”, it’s normal to want to protect yourself: to stop whatever you’ve been doing, because it feels like it’s not working. You want to take care of yourself, and recuperate.
There are 2 incredibly different scenarios at play here, however:
- Being turned off by dating and feeling totally cool with being single.
- Being turned off by dating but finding yourself really wanting to be in a relationship.
If you think you might fall into the second category, I’m gonna bet that the biggest issue at hand here is feeling like a failure.
There’s a slippery, slippery slope to viewing past relationships as fails. If you do, you may be allowing your perception to dictate your next movie because you’re afraid.
Afraid of what? The potential hurt, being vulnerable again, whether or not you actually deserve success…the list is literally endless.
Q: Do you want to be in a relationship?
Q: Are you dating?
Q: Why not?
- I hate men.
- I hate online dating.
- I recently had my heart broken.
- I recently got fucked over.
- I feel rejected.
- I never meet anyone new in my everyday life.
- It’s winter and I’m cold and I would rather eat and hibernate.
Listen. All these excuses have extreme validity (especially the #hibernation one, obvs). FEEL YOUR FEELINGS. But let’s call a spade a spade…. these are still excuses.
If you’ve recently had an experience that makes you want to take some ‘me time’ and you’re ok with being single – MORE. POWER. TO YOU. I can’t emphasize that enough.
But if you’ve recently had a “fail” that makes you want to hole up (because you’d rather protect yourself than get hurt again), even though you so badly want to find someone…
I say this with all the love in the world, from the deepest part of my heart:
What the HELL are you waiting for?
There will ALWAYS be an excuse that’s holding you back from meeting people.
Let’s face it – dating takes EFFORT and not making that effort is just plain easier.
If you want to be in a relationship and you’re not doing anything about it…the time has come. WE AIN’T GETTING ANY YOUNGER. And we can’t expect Prince Charming to swoop in, rescue us, and sweep us off our feet. Finding someone takes WORK.
If we’ve taken some time off from dating, it can be really hard to get back in the swing of things. Where do we even begin? How do we combat these feelings of fear, and rejection, and failure?
It’s funny, writing a dating blog. A lot of clichés come to mind when exploring these age old issues. Some of the clichés just plain suck. But others, like I’ve said before, are clichés because they’re right on the money:
“Put yourself out there.” How many times have we heard that one? And what the FUCK does it actually mean?
Of course, the episode of Sex and the City comes to mind when Charlotte and Carrie go see a dating coach speak. The coach challenges Charlotte to ‘put herself out there’, to which Charlotte responds “trust me, I am putting myself out there. All. The. Time”.
Here’s the thing: it’s a really, really good piece of advice. But it’s not tangible.
And so, my dear friends…I’ve compiled a list.
A list of things to do if you’re single and looking for love, but are afraid and have NO IDEA WHERE TO START:
- Make dating a priority. Make time for it in your schedule. Don’t let the shitty dates disrupt yo’ flow.
- Download an app or 2, but not 5 – make it easy on yourself. Might I suggest Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel? Bumble is kind of like a game, with the swiping technology, but feels less sleazy to me than Tinder. Coffee Meets Bagel is incredibly manageable, because they only provide you with 5 matches a day. Because of this, I’ve found that the people on there tend to be more relationship-minded (not just looking for a hook-up).
- LOOK AROUND. I’m telling you – I PROMISE you – people are out there, and are looking for connection. Take your eyes off your phone and look up when you’re out and about. Take your headphones off. On the train. At the grocery store. At a bar. At a restaurant. People always tell me “I refuse to online date, and the only people I meet are at work”. I bet you $100,000 that you do not go from work to home and back again each and every day of your life. I’m no fool. I’m telling you – if you switch your mindset to think that single and interested people are all around you (and you use your best judgement when encountering strangers) – YOU WILL MEET SOMEONE. Ever hear of the law of attraction? Here it is at play. Change your habits. People are ALL AROUND US.
- Along that same vein – engage with people who you encounter day-to-day – coworkers you don’t normally talk to, friends of friends at parties, people in waiting rooms. Even if you’re not making a direct potential love connection, you never know what that new connection might lead you to.
- Embrace vulnerability. Watch this, it will change you, I could write 10 blog entries on it: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability
- Ask your friends to set you up. Let the people in your life know that you’re looking to date new people. You’ll be surprised with what they come up with, once you ask for their help.
- Don’t be afraid to go places ALONE (again – use your best judgement, and be careful and aware). You’re much more approachable this way than when surrounded by a gaggle of friends. If that idea makes you feel uncomfortable – bring a book. It’s also a great conversation starter.
- Be honest with the people you meet about what you’re looking for.
- Write to me. Are you stumped? Are you afraid? Are you discouraged? I’m sure you have extremely valid reasons to be. Let me help you get back on the horse.
I deeply understand the feeling of being turned off by dating. It can be really, really hard. Especially when you look around you and see friends who’ve, in your eyes, had a more seamless time with it.
But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
Comparison is the thief of joy. Focus on your own path.
Try not to look backwards, or side to side. Look ahead. Move forward. KEEP GOING.
There will always be excuses to keep you from getting out there. Don’t let them.
And let me know if you need an extra little push.