Why I Won’t Date: Part I (Unraveling the Expectations of Others)

Eye roll: I am too open sometimes. Too hopeful. Too idealistic.

I’ve been hesitant to post dating pieces for a long time. I always cringe when I think about writing about my experiences — because sometimes writing about the twisted and uncomfortable — even the bliss-filled and orgasmic, is awkward. The highs and the lows exist in every aspect of life. In dating, the highs seem to keep me going — and the lows, well they make me want to delete and do over — quickly.

Up until I was 30, I never dated.

I mean, I had boyfriends, and even a girlfriend once. I experienced both long and short-term relationships for almost a decade. But dating never happened.

I didn’t know how to date until I was over 30. And while I began to go on “dates” with people I barely knew, planning coffee or dinner meetings, walks or glasses of wine, I still felt like a novice clumsily hiking an unexplored terrain.

The word dating made me shudder.

For over a decade of my life, instead of dating, I developed friendships. I remember learning in an undergraduate social psychology class, that we befriend people we are attracted to.

I could often sense it coming — the crossover, I’ll call it. That moment when friendship intimacy turns romantic. It might have been weeks, sometimes even months of mini moments where feelings of desire or longing would be there in glances or gestures — words or a smile. All those months of little hints of flirtation and desire led up to one moment — where our lips met or our hug lasted a bit longer than long.

I didn’t date.

In fact, I swore I’d never date.

Until the day I had to.

I was 35 years old.

I’d been single for over a year — by choice. I’d left my daughter’s father suddenly and unexpectedly — a man who I’d experienced the crossover with 3 years prior. It was an impulsive action, spurred by my gut and prompted by my intuition.

When I left him, I was still nursing my daughter and thus, had little to no libido. My body and my heart needed that year to decompress and process and wean.

After a year of solo parenting, I stopped nursing my little one and I suddenly felt a surge of desire to be in a relationship again. I was 35 then.

I am 40 now. I’ve spent the past 5 years fumbling around in a world that is still as uncomfortable and foreign as it was the day I had my first so-called date.

I’ve come to a place of acceptance now.

Acceptance of my dislike of dating.

I’ve tried app dating and gotten into 3-month relationships with “nice guys,” but something was always missing.

I think I’ve finally found what was missing — and it wasn’t a spark or a fireworks connection.

What was missing is much simpler, and it’s been here all along. What was missing was me — in all my dating hating authenticity.

I turned 40 this summer and chose to spend my birthday weekend, not with the man I was dating at the time, but on a solo trip to a yoga ashram that I discovered a few years back when I was yearning to have a long weekend date with myself.

Ananda Ashram, July 2018 (Photo by author)

I’m not going to lie and say accepting my authentic self is an easy process. On my birthday eve, I chose to skinny dip in the Ashram’s outdoor pool, surrounded by fawn grazing and rabbits hopping about.

As I lie floating naked, gazing up at the stars, I felt a sense of peace encapsulated by a pressure — my body both tense and relaxed all at once. The pressure felt like it was birthed in my youth — in those childhood games on the playground, where a first-grade boy and girl have a fake wedding and then “choose” which classmates will be their fake children. I remember feeling really uncomfortable during these fake marriage games. I never got married on the playground, but I was often chosen as a fake daughter, because of my quiet, inward nature. “You’re well behaved” my fake parents would say, and I’d cringe inside.

Is that what it was about? Being well behaved? Was keeping quiet the way to win over the hearts of others. For years I thought so.

As a 7-year-old, I sensed more options to this adult life than the traditional marriage and family path. I kept them quiet. It never felt safe to share.

My recent rejection of traditional dating has opened my psyche to begin to loosen up those beliefs my childhood-self held in her heart. My recent rejection has been a form of inner listening.

As I listen to my deepest heart, I make space for my conscious mind and emotional heart to process what was pushed into a back, dusty corner of my mind for decades of my life.

Seeing clearly.

When we open to a new way of seeing, we experience freedom akin to coming up for air after being immersed underwater for one too many seconds. We might gag and choke at first, but when our breath flows freely, we begin to savor the air we breathe, realizing just how sacred this life really is.

Appreciating each whisper of our heart is a form of holding ourselves in a sacred light — honoring our soul’s unique nature.

Maybe there is something to the friend’s first way that resonates deeply with my soul. Maybe my inner 7-year old’s heart had the answers to my 40-year-old self’s bliss.

Maybe being a spiritually satisfied single mother has some kind of richness that my partnered self found lacking.

Maybe where I am in my journey right now, loving single-hood and feeling enriched by my work as a therapist and healer, savoring solo creative expression, rewarding friendships, and a 7-year-old daughter that is my soulmate in so many ways, is enough.

Maybe deciding not to date is the best Christmas gift I could give my truest self — and a hopefully romantic way to start out the New Year.

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”
— Buddha

This post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.

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Photo credit: Unsplash