Everyone gets down in the dating dumps from time to time. It’s a natural side effect of the single life. Everyone goes through it. And despite how sucky it feels, it’s generally ok.
But there’s a line at which ordinary blues becomes long-term self-loathing. The switch can happen at anytime but will devolve quickly whenever online date requests are running dry, and you suddenly interpret otherwise harmless details of your life as telltale signs of perpetual single-hood. Slowly, you begin withdrawing yourself from social events from fear of being looked at as “the single one”. Soon after, your friends start expressing their concern, but one by one, start dropping away. Despite what you think – whining about a 3-month dry streak doesn’t really make anyone feel bad for you.
Hopefully someone slaps you out of it before it gets to that point. But the real truth is: you’re a grown-up human, and no friend is responsible for making you feel better about life, dating included. We all go through it, and ultimately, we’re the ones who must dig ourselves out. While it’s comforting to know we have friends who’ll do just about anything to give us a hand – you’ll be much better off dusting your own shoulders than icing your bruised cheek. Plus, you don’t really want your friend to have to slap you. That’ll just make her feel bad too.
Upgrading your dating attitude is a perfect way to dig yourself out of your dumpy spot on the couch, get back your friends and along with it, your social life. And, yes, all this means a higher likelihood of rebooting your romantic life, too. But don’t focus too much on final outcomes just yet. There’ll be plenty of time for game plans once you’ve stopped quoting Kate Hudson rom-coms and started brushing your hair again.
First, assess your dating karma. We all love to assume the victim role in the occasional (but inevitable) awful dating experience. It’s so easy to blame other people for our damaged egos; the natural logic goes that taking responsibility when things go sour would only add insult to injury. But to stop spiraling helplessly, you have to stop being helpless. This isn’t the same as blaming ourselves for our romantic misfortunes, but about being accountable and controlling what we’ll let affect us and how much. How many times in the last year have you lied about suddenly needing to cancel a date? Not returned someone’s calls or texts, or something even more benign, like faking interest in somebody just because you didn’t want to be dateless for another New Year’s Eve? Realizing where you’ve been less than perfect makes it easier to accept when others are, rather than holding onto it and letting it make you bitter.
Be honest, and take off your own mask before worrying about others. You weren’t that excited to go out with him. Or, there wasn’t much chemistry, but you got drunk so it would be easier to pretend. Maybe you actually thought his impression of Big Bird was really annoying, but your friends thought it was charming so you decided to stretch your casual relationship a little longer. Even though this tactic can seem harsh, in a way, what you’re doing by uncovering all of your pesky white lies is letting yourself off the hook. The second you begin to see that, rather than real interest, you were just bored, the second the uncomfortable break-ups and unreturned messages stop being earth-shattering. And in the end, you’ll have the confidence to be more honest with everyone else, meaning you’ll have less reasons to lie to yourself.
You don’t have to be happy about being single. Even though I’ve just spent the last hour writing about how to slap off your bad attitude, I still don’t think you have to slap yourself into one of those happy single people who takes vacations alone and preaches on the virtues of self-love in her spare time. Those people are great, but it’s fine to not be one of them. Maybe you just know that you’re happier when in a relationship. Don’t mistake a positive attitude for acceptance of your current single status, or worse, for giving up on relationships for good. You can still make dating a priority without letting it ruin a year, a month, even a week of your precious life!
…and remember, don’t go changing everything. While you’re busy making over your attitude, you might be tempted into thinking other things should be changed too. Wait until you’ve brightened up this one spot before you start tweaking other areas. Something tells me you’re more than fine under all that cloudy cynicism.
It’s all in how you look at things.
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