Thursday, November 3, 2011

Dating and Seasonal Changes

I don't know about you, but as the autumn slides towards winter, and everything outside turns cold and dark, being single tugs at me more. More wanting comes up. More loneliness.

At the same time, I often experience a general rise in dating apathy about it all this time of year. When I am single at this time of year, that is. Certainly, all the fuss and ramped up holiday energy doesn't help, but there's something about the shift towards winter that almost causes me to turn away from dating, as if it's akin to swimming or some other warm weather activity.

Most of us living in industrial and post-industrial countries have become divorced from the planet, from the environment around us. So much so that we frequently miss the ways in which a change in seasons, for example, changes how we feel, think, and act. Furthermore, instead of making preemptive changes to live more in accord with the seasons, many of us simply continue to push onward in the same old ways, acting as if the frigid cold or extreme heat around us isn't also running through us. Which is it. Even if you choose to spend most of your time indoors, in heated and air conditioned spaces.

Some of you might be thinking, "What is this guy talking about?" When the holidays roll around, I want to date all the time. Being single around the holidays is the worst!" Well, I hear you. Others might be thinking, "I'm too busy with family and friends during the holidays to care at all about dating." To which I would say, sure, I get that too.

It's not so much the particular pattern as it is the fact that there is a definite shift that occurs.

The first thing to ask yourself is whether you recognize a shift during this time of year around dating and romance. I would actually say that this is true regardless of whether you are in a relationship or not. Most of us have internal and external shifts around the holidays, but how many of us actually recognize those shifts, instead of simply reacting until we're frustrated, depressed, or exhausted?

Once you develop an awareness of what your habitual patterns and shifts are around the holidays, you can move to the next level - which is assessing whether what you do and how you think is healthy or not.

In my own life, I have learned that some of the dating apathy that seems to always arise at this time of year is really just a call to turn inward, to be more reflective about my life. This doesn't seem to matter whether I'm single or with someone - the cold, darkness, and snow calls me to turn inward.

I also know that another piece of this apathy is tied to believing the sad sack stories that sometimes run in my head about not being "good enough," or "worthy" of a relationship. The tricky thing about turning inward is that you see it all - the positive thoughts and emotions, and the negative. And because it's cold outside, and I tend to be stuck in a tiny apartment by myself more often on long winter days and nights, the negative likes to come and visit you might say.

Perhaps you have the opposite response. Maybe you are one of those people who attend every holiday gathering, and are involved in all sorts of activities during this time of year. Do you find yourself looking for love at all those gatherings? Are you filling your schedule in part to avoid loneliness?

There's nothing wrong with being more busy during holidays. I'm just suggesting that you consider whether your love life, or lack there of, is driving how your living in an unhealthy manner. Since I'm more the contemplative type during this time of year, I have to watch that I don't isolate myself, and essentially fall into seasonal depression. In fact, for someone like me, it's actually helpful to sometimes push myself to go on a date or two during this time of year, just to break up the pattern. For someone who is excessively active and constantly on the prowl for love during the holidays, it might be smart to deliberately schedule some alone time, and spend that alone time doing something other than thinking about dating and relationships.

What do you all think? Does any of this resonate with you?

*Photo is of a classic Minnesota blizzard from last December.


  1. Agree re: the call to be inward. It is certainly a seasonal affective shift. Apart from dating, I noticed it when attending a workshop in Northern California one January. Everyone was so uptempo, so high-energy in their style of meeting and breaking the ice. It felt odd. Upon returning home to Boston, I attended a meeting-- everyone was quite sober, and quiet. I wouldn't have noticed it except for the contrast...

  2. I'm not sure I notice much of a change in myself in terms of trends. For the past few days I have had my first cold of the season, and felt much less sexy/desirable/desiring as a result, but that's a short-term thing and I guess any infection will do that to a person.

  3. Work gets busy for me in the winter, so my winter tends to fly by. But, I'm also cranky from working too many hours, not enough daylight or outdoors time, dealing with mud, etc. I haven't been single in the winter in many years, so I'm not sure how that's going to affect things. I have financially committed myself to a workout routine, so that's good, at least. And, I'm so busy when I get home from work and so tired from getting up at 5AM to work out that I don't have time to feel lonely.

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