Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Jaded About Dating
Go read a few dating blogs or discussion group conversations. Or check in with enough of your single friends and you're bound to find it: jadedness.
Maybe you are like I have been during periods in the past, and don't need to go looking for it because you're living and breathing the stuff. Every date conversation reminds you of the last one you had. Every short term relationship falls apart in the same old ways. Everywhere you turn, you see seemingly happy couples strolling arm in arm. And you think: this isn't going to happen to me. In fact, maybe it's not even happening to them. They're happy now, but will be yelling at each other by nightfall, and breaking up before the rooster calls in the sunrise.
I don't know about you, but the older I get, the easier it is to construct those kinds of narratives. After the hundredth date with a stranger met online, the veneer of novelty and potential wears off and you're left with reality. After the third, fourth, fifth long term relationship has gone down in flames, or fizzled out, or sputtered slowly into boredom and indifference it's that much harder to shrug it all off and move on with a fresh, open attitude.
So, you have to be more intentional about it all. You have to pay attention to the stories coming up in your mind, and be willing to cut off the jadedness, and cut off the desire to compare whomever is in front of you with all those you dated in the past.
Whether you know it or not, jadedness and similar states of mind are really addictive. They offer a buffer between reality as it is and yourself. Instead of just taking in completely the place you are at in life, you wallow in stories about how all the good ones are taken already, and that even if you meet someone great, you or the other person will figure out how to fuck it up somehow.
Jadedness frequently has a fatalism attached to it. But even thinking fatalistic offers a perverse comfort because you believe you know what's coming, instead of facing the mystery of your life.
I'm thoroughly convinced that although it can be more challenging to meet a great partner when you've gone past 30, 40, 50 years old - it's also the case that you tend to have much more wisdom about it all, if only you'd peel back the bullshit stories on the surface. The experiences of your past are rich in learnings, and even if you didn't choose to learn from them at the time, you can always go back now and reconsider what lessons might have been present for you. In addition, perhaps you've also let go of some of that movie/television show romanticism that tinted the way you viewed dating and relationships as a young person.
In other words, even if you have some baggage, you also might have a lot of assets hanging around within you, if you just take a closer look. In fact, if you've been an expert in jadedness, it might have worn through some of that emotional roller coaster stuff that others experience with every single date they go on. Maybe it's not life or death anymore. Or you don't think this person "is the one" after a few e-mails and phone calls, and then, when he or she isn't, you don't crash and burn for weeks on end after the date.
In the end, it's all workable. If you're willing to keep taking another look, and let go of whatever comfort stories keep coming up in your mind.