Lisa Lo Paro
May 25, 2016 10:11 am
Getty / Martin Dimitrov

When my best friend broke up with her boyfriend of two-plus years, she stressed the importance of “staying in the game.” She threw herself right back into the dating world with enthusiasm, and rebounded like a pro basketball player. She insisted that the no-downtime method to getting over an ex was the best medicine, but for the life of me, I cannot agree.

When I broke up with an ex, my preferred method of getting over it was wallowing, first season Rory Gilmore style. I’m an all-or-nothing type of girl, so I either want to be headed toward a relationship, in a relationship, or stubbornly, independently single. Post-split, I reveled in the freedom and peace a single life can have, when you’re actively aloof to the attentions of men. Since then, I’ve been on a few dates here and there, made out with a few guys here and there, but aside from those sporadic and fruitless encounters (albeit fun ones), I’ve been “independently single.” And I’m beginning to freak out about it. Here’s why.

In our Tinder-fied world, guys expect you to have dated a lot.

Once, I began chatting casually with a guy I was interested in, and he was shocked to hear I’d been single for a year. Is that weird now? Are we all expected to be constantly dating/casually dating someone at all times? Because I never signed up for that.

So when I do meet guys, talk, hang out, what-have-you, they’re always surprised at my lack of dating life, should they become aware of it. My relative lack of dating experience has left me feeling too insecure about it, unfortunately.

I’m left feeling like there’s something wrong with me. 

See, I KNOW there’s nothing wrong with me, and that my recent lack of dating is due to poor opportunities, a life of being overworked, and my own tendencies toward the hermit life, but once you’ve been out of the “dating game” for a while, your inner tenth grader comes roaring out, asking questions like, “Is it me? Am I the problem? Is there something inherently wrong with me?” Nope, not inherently. But there is something wrong in expecting to meet someone without putting in any effort, which is my current preferred dating habit. 😉 Silencing that annoying, insecure inner 15-year-old is sometimes hard to do.

I feel like I’m too inexperienced or awkward to date.

I’m a pretty confident person, sometimes annoyingly so. But all that bravado can come crashing down around a cute guy. And when you’re out of practice, talking, texting, dating, and hanging out is way too much stress for awkward ol’ me. I get all jittery, nervous, giggly, and shy. I’m betting most guys in my age bracket are all like, “What’s wrong with this girl?” I can’t tell ya. I’m not entirely sure. But it’s probably because dating around is so far out of my comfort zone, but it also may be because I’m of the opinion that I can tell, pretty immediately, if I like someone or have something in common with them. I feel comfortable around them right off the bat, and I am never nervous. It may be an unreliable method of dating, but I sort of rely on it. The problem is that it doesn’t happen too often.

Not dating has left me too intimidated to try. 

You know the whole “I procrastinated too long, now it’s too late” logic? Same thing sort of applies here. I’ve spent so long reveling in my singleness that I haven’t wanted to mess it up, but I’ve also gotten too comfortable with my single life to try too hard to change it. After certain potential flames fizzle out, fall through, or ghosts (or I ghost), I settle back in to my solitary existence and keep enjoying the view, never pushing myself out of my comfort zone to try again. It’s just too exhausting, too intimidating, and too scary to step out of my comfort zone. Even with Bumble installed on my iPhone.

I just want something real, dammit! 

The most cogent reason I can give for my lack of dating, aside from the aforementioned fear and intimidation factor, is the fact that the entire process seems useless to me. Dating feels forced and ritualistic, packaged with certain societal and sexual expectations, and I’m just not about it. I’d much rather not waste time dating around, and instead actively look for something I know will be real, solid, and long-term. The problem is (you’ve probably spotted it) that without dating, finding anything real is sort of difficult. So I guess my hang-ups have to be hung up for good, or else I’ll be single forever (admittedly, that does sound kind of awesome). To dating apps, I go.

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