So much has happened in the past few months. I left my full-time job, ended a relationship, and started graduate school. It’s been wildly fantastic – albeit overwhelming at times…
Often it feels like my brain is on overload, negotiating between fulfilling personal responsibilities and making sense of the world…deciphering what it means to be an immigrant and a woman of color living in Los Angeles, California U.S.A.. It’s a very interesting time to be me, and to be studying social work. Sometimes it’s frightening, but also hopeful; I feel like I’m being given a playbook of sorts….and I like it, I like it a lot.
Anyway, despite the fact that I’m still adjusting to these huge changes, I recently decided to try online dating, which I’ll refer to as OD for short. Now, I have not had much success with “OD” in the past. OK let’s be real – it’s been awful, lackluster, sort of traumatizing…I really regret not starting this blog at that period in my life. Recounting those experiences would have been a little embarrassing, but probably hysterical. Sometimes you gotta laugh or else you’ll cry.
So – with this in tow, I was naturally hesitant to go back on the apps, but I was feeling a little lonely, a little randy, and figured it was time to “get back out there.”
Ever notice how folks are always telling each other to get back out there when it comes to dating? Like it’s a roller skating rink and you just fell and hurt your ego. Come to think of it though that’s pretty accurate, because egos are most often what takes a bruising out in the land of dating. But I digress, back to the story…
If you know me well, then you know that I hate folding/putting away laundry. In order to make the time pass more pleasantly I usually throw on a movie, this occasion was no different. After 5 minutes of scrolling through Netflix, I finally landed on what promised to be a lighthearted tale of love. I don’t remember the name, nor do I want to waste the energy to look it up – just know that the plot revolved around two hipster New York kids who meet up for sex after meeting online. They wake up the next morning, argue, there’s some uncalled for slut shaming, the woman attempts to leave only to realize that she is stuck inside the apartment building with this foolio during a blizzard. Their awkward “courtship” is forced to continue and includes breaking into a neighbor’s apartment to use their bathroom, more arguing, some cheating, high dancing, and a trip to jail. Such a tumultuous series of events, but in the end, they lived happily ever after. Of course they did…
Well you can imagine how I felt after watching this! All sorts of hopeful! Apparently this romantic comedy of the millennial age was just the encouragement I needed to jump on the digital dating train ASAP. I put on my conductor hat and floored it – full steam ahead!
Two hours later I had very carefully cultivated profiles on not just one, but TWO dating apps: Bumble and Tinder. Why two? The better question is “why not?!” With a few simple clicks you can copy and paste your new persona across profile boxes far and wide! Alas, I stuck to two, because I didn’t want to over extend myself – so it began.
I won’t go into details, because I’m sure you’ve read/heard the stories all before – and the purpose of this post isn’t to critique OD. Nevertheless, one unsolicited dick pic, a bad date, and several awkward exchanges later – I’ve made the decision to retire from the scene, at least for now. It’s just too overwhelming at the present time, and I don’t have much patience for bullshit.
Why not indefinitely? Well, I’ll be the first to agree that it’s a bit of a shitshow, and it has forever changed social interactions and environments, not necessarily in a great way. But, I also have several close friends who have met WONDERFUL partners via these channels, so I’m not ruling it out as an option – for a later time.
What I’m more interested in – and what I’m attempting to get to with this post – is what my most recent experience with OD has shown me about where I am, right now. Whether we believe that the Universe or God orchestrates situations to communicate lessons directly to us, or that shit just happens and we draw on our developed self-awareness and knowledge seeking instincts to make sense of it — this process of REFLECTION is vital to our growth. So what did I learn? Let’s break it down…
(BTW my personal belief currently is that it’s a little bit of all three – universe + god + me. A separate post on this to come, maybe a few actually cuz that is some loaded shit to unpack).
The more obvious:
- I have limited energy and I am choosing to focus it on my personal development. Dating cannot be my number one priority. I won’t ignore connections and will cultivate them if they present themselves, but I won’t be actively seeking them out.
- Dating to find a partner is difficult – it requires a lot more time, a hell of a lot more patience, and a clear idea of who you are, what qualities you desire, and how you expect to be treated. Then you gotta be able to communicate that shit! We’ll explore the plucky process of creating a “non-negotiables” list in a future post.
- Online dating has its own set of standards, rules, and etiquette – adjust expectations accordingly. If going on online dates FEELS like a job interview – that’s probably because it kind of is, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. How you ask? Stay tuned for that post.
The DEEPER shit:
Talking to a friend of mine this week about all this – we were working things out as we spoke about them – and I came to the realization that I’m struggling. I am being stretched…I’m on my feet, jumping, hopping, bending backwards at what feels like fireballs. All I wanted was a little water! Online dating was the water that I hoped would ease that heat. How so?
I believe that even the most confident of persons deals with insecurities, or doubts about their abilities, their futures, their impact on others, what their hair looks like that day, whether they said the right thing to someone who needed help…etc. etc. and often we seek validation outside of ourselves.
“Tell me I’m normal. Tell me I’m lovely. Tell me that I’m weird, but that you GET me.”
During tough times, I’ve reached out for validation through romantic relationships as a way to bolster my confidence, and I’ve done this at several pivotal points in my life. This doesn’t make any of these past relationships any less meaningful, special, or real – they were based on true connections – but it does help explain why maybe they didn’t travel as far as each of us had truly hoped.
I’ll say it again: PATTERNS.
We unknowingly recreate them in our lives all the time! They feel comfortable, they are habitual, perhaps in the past they have even served to keep us safe, sane, or afloat, but it’s important to recognize when they no longer serve us. A pattern can involve actions and behaviors that are simple, short-term solutions to much deeper issues, which if we dealt with them accordingly, could lead to some pretty substantial LEVELING UP.
So, I’m ready my friends.
Tonight, I will say a few words to this unfortunate pattern, I will thank it for its service, and wave it off to where unhelpful patterns go to die.
I invite you to take a look at the patterns you might unconsciously be recreating in your life. What purpose do they serve? Take a good honest look, and decide if it’s time to let them go.
I will let go of this buoy and keep swimming towards that forbidden island…I hear the music they’re playing…and it’s a pretty dope mix.