When I was single in my 20’s, talking about my dating life was an exciting, raucous affair that my friends and I would undertake over a bottle of Rosé and a packet of Doritos. They were discussions filled with hope and optimism about what the future may hold for me and how this all fitted into my meticulously scheduled, 10 year plan.
In my 30’s, chats about being single have taken a slightly more depressing turn, as I drag myself round to (my previously single) gal pals homes to discuss my ovaries and hormonal deadlines whilst they rush between high chairs and bath times and Baby TV.
I can almost hear my friends eyes roll into the back of their heads as I start every new conversation excitedly with:
“…so I’ve met a guy’.
Both of us knowing full well that in three weeks I’ll be writhing around on their lounge room floor, smeared in Nutella and sobbing uncontrollably about being single forever. Their gentle arm taps, a baby wipe dispensed to mop up the ruined mascara and a kind, reaffirming phrase that they’ve uttered thousands of times before, in the hope it will make me feel better (and get out of their house before bed time).
People don’t really know what to say to the perpetually single. What advice to give, morals to garner? Instead they do that awkward shift in their seat and utter the same sort of clichés you heard the last week from the Tinder date who dumped you mid bite of your peri peri. For I love my married friends, but softening the blow is not their forte and their advice often sounds like something straight out of a Judy Bloom novel. So here it is married pals, all the words of wisdom you have ever given me and why these single people dating clichés belong in the bin. P.S I’ll be round in 2 weeks with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon, if you could make space in my usual depression station for a snot cry and a life crisis – Ta!
You’ll find love when you stop searching for it:
My favourite advice often comes from coupled up people who have never dated in the Tinder generation. You know the ones? The people who found the love of their lives in a bar, or on holiday or through a friend of a friend of a friend. The ones who have no idea the level of admin it takes to plough through the dick pics, and “Heys” and “How are yours”. It’s a full-time job creating dating profiles, copy editing witty bios and devising opening liners. If you’re lucky enough that people message you, you can avoid having to skim through hundreds of profiles of people really into “going out and having fun, whilst equally enjoying a night in on the sofa.”
Sometimes I think I’ll leave my decade long career and into sales due to my new learnt expertise as a dating cold caller. I can eke out entertainment from conversations so dry my vagina gets friction burn. Dating online takes searching, it takes time and it takes more commitment than most of the participants are willing to put into an actual relationship.
Searching for love online can feel a bit like being a stage school kid searching for fame. At first, you’re that self-assured, annoying bratty child, who turns up to each audition pirouetting and tip tapping through each date hoping it’s the ‘Golden’ ticket. But by the 100th attempt to break “Hollywood,” you aren’t convinced you’re going to make it, but you keep turning up for fear you’ll spend the rest of eternity in Panto in Croydon with The Chuckle Brothers and Pat Sharp for company.
Of course, if your coupled up friends truly wanted to help you, they could just introduce you to their boyfriend’s friend you keep slyly dropping into conversation every five minutes and stop ignoring your quite obvious hints, right? Right?
It’s them, not you:
Friends are great aren’t they? They are your personal cheerleading squad, batting away every demon, ghoster, and fuck boy left right and centre and trying to protect you from all the heartbreak and chlamydia along the way. And when you turn up at their doorstep smelling of last weeks Vodka and carrying bigger bags than Aldi’s under your eyes (from 48 hours of weeping) they will be there to analyse, debate and complete a full FBI search on the bastards new love interest. Friends will rarely let you believe you have done anything wrong and will create Powerpoint presentations to the opposite as to why you are an incredible human.
But, alas, what if it is you? What if there is a reason you’ve stayed single for 6 years, and every possible connection has ended within the 3 month (oh shit it’s getting serious) period? Tinder doesn’t offer an annual review process, and there is no ‘end of date’ survey where your perspective beau can grade you on wit, intelligence and ability to eat with your mouth closed. Even if you aren’t ghosted and you are given a plausible reason as to why you won’t see that person again, you have to believe they are being honest and not trying let you down gently to ensure you don’t murder their hamster or worse…cry.
There really is no way to know if it is them or you when it comes to dating or how to get better not bitter when jumping back on the dating bandwagon. You have to be insightful but not overtly critical, willing to change, but be happy in yourself. And unless you are willing to approach every person you have dated and request a reflective account of what you are like to date, you will never know if it’s them and not you.
There are plenty more fish in the sea:
Survey says: “You are wrong.’
I once joked about five years ago that I had waited so long for a suitable partner, that I would enter into a new era of dating the DILFs (Dads I’d Like to Fuck) where I would get an opportunity to snap up all the new divorcees who came on the market post high school marriage break up. Which turned out to be a reality because for the past 5 years I have dated divorcee, after divorcee, after DILF. They have been, fun, silly, brilliant and bitter and hurt and miserable. Whilst I am just coming to the stage in my life where I am ready to do that whole wedding thing and settle down, the dating pool is full of newly single DILFs screaming “FREEDOM!” at the top of their voices and well, we just aren’t on the same page.
Whilst I browse the Tiffany catalogue, the DILFs are booking a weekend in Shagaluf, and it turns out, our expectations of relationships in our 30’s just don’t align. With the DILF’s priorities being catching up on nights out, eating dinner in their pants, and throwing shade at their exes every five minutes, I am ready to chat commitment, ISA’s and mortgages, all of which leads to them running back to their latest Tinder match.
The reality is, dating in your 30’s is either finding the odd person who managed to escape their 20’s without commitment (Hi me!) or waiting another decade for the alimony and CSA payments to cease. Roll on dating in my 40’s.
No matter how many times I attempt to find my inner zen, having a romantic spark fizzle out is always a bit of disappointment. Whilst I genuinely love being single, I miss those little bits of connecting with someone that comes with a relationship. I miss the laughing until you cry moments, the dinner dates, and much under appreciated access to regular sex. I was asked recently on a date why I had been single for 6 years. Obviously, my answer was “beats me, mate, I’m adorable” but when contemplating this for a second, to be honest, I really don’t know why. Despite what you may believe on this blog, I have genuinely, rarely had a bad date. I have met several people who I have connected with, had my belly do flips and for a split second wondered if this was that moment I’d get to recall when people asked “So tell me, how did you meet”. *Insert girly squeal*
But each time this I meet someone I like, a few weeks later I will inevitably get the “Thanks but no thanks” text or sometimes just the ‘block’ button. And it is gutting. Even if you aren’t sure of your feelings (or if there are even any in the first place) being rejected sucks balls. So telling someone it was meant to be, or it’s the universe’s plan, or whatever Instagram quote you’ve concocted that you think will make that person feel better, just don’t. In these moments, try empathy rather than sympathy. Agree that it’s shit, pour another glass of wine, and grab me a share pack of Nachos and a pot of Nutella and let me have my moment. Sob.
I get that being a supportive friend to someone looking for love can be difficult. You want to make things better, give them hope and try to stop their crisis in their tracks. But sometimes, all you need when you’re diving face first into Rejection Street is a welcome here, a nodding head and a fully dedicated cheerleader. So if you’re a single pringle, what sort of dating clichés really grind your gears? Are you a married Megan who thinks I am totally wrong? Let me know over on my socials or leave a comment below.
Photo Credit: Vix Meldrew