Difficulties in Dating
Why Don't We All Just Stay Single?
Dating is one of the most difficult things most people will ever do. From their first awkward attempts at exploring their sexuality and finding a mate (which, for most people happens sometime during our teenage years) through their 20's, 30's and beyond. It's never easy, never simple and never seems to work out as well as it does in the movies. Seriously, dating is often difficult and frustrating. So why do we do it?
My earliest experience with relationsihps was in grade school. Her name was Donna and it was 4th grade. She had liked me in the 3rd grade, but I hadn't "discovered" girls yet, so had no idea why she always seemed to be hanging around me. Over the summer break, I figured it out and could not wait for the next school year to start. Donna, I was sure, would be my first girlfriend.
It didn't work out that way. Over the summer, Donna had experienced her own epiphany and no longer liked me. This pretty much set the precedent for most of my future relationships.
Oh sure, there were a few other grade school crushes, but none really panned out and I didn't actually manage to find a real relationship until well into high school, and even that didn't last more than a few months.
Back In the Saddle
Eventually, we may figure it out a bit. Or, at least, we may think we figure it out. We meet someone, get together. maybe settle down for a while.
I did. Several times. Sometimes love works out, sometimes it doesn't, and few things are more difficult, more humbling and more frustrating than finding yourself having to jump back into the dating pool at 30 years old. Except perhaps finding yourself having to do it in your 40's.
You think changing careers mid-life is difficult? Try changing life-partners.
Things happen, relationships fail, and suddenly, you look around and everyone (except you) is either married or in a relationship and you're left on your own again, licking your wounds and wondering how it all went so awfully, horribly wrong.
You may grieve the loss of your relationship. You might take some time to heal emotionally, but eventually, most people get lonely. Then what? No choice but to dip your toes into the water again. But do you dive into the deep end? Or cautiously wade into the kiddie pool?
Online Dating - and Other Terrors
Meeting people when we're younger is actually pretty easy compared to meeting people when you've lived half your lives, though it may not seem that way when you're younger. School, college, sports, dances - the opportunities for love are plenty in our younger years.
When you're older, dating is more difficult. We have a much better of who we are and what we are looking for in a mate, but finding one is often a challenge.
Online dating is hit-or-miss. The people you're interested in often don't even bother to respond, and you have no attraction to the ones who message you. Meeting someone at the workplace is often fairly common, but what if you're laid off? Many employers discourage or even totally forbid inter-office romance. What if it's a small company and there are just no eligible people to choose from?
Sure, you could maybe hope to just sort of run into someone... at the store, the laundromat, in the park. When you were younger, those chance meetings seemed fairly common, but now they're rare indeed. And to make matters worse, everyone seems buried in their iPad/iPod/laptop/Blackberry and few people even bother to notice the people around them anymore.
Of course, there's the old standby - meeting someone at a bar, but that has drawbacks, too. The women there assume that men who go to the bar are only looking for one thing, and they're often right. But the women who go to the bar know that and still go anyway, so they're pretty much looking for the same thing, they just don't want to admit it or look like they're "easy." People often refer to bars as "meat markets" and hate the whole atmosphere of loneliness and desperation. Being desperate and lonely without looking like you're desperate or lonely - looking for someone without looking like you're looking.
Why Bother At All?
It's all part of the game, I guess. The elaborate, deceitful little mating rituals we humans have developed over the history of our species. It truly is amazing to me that we've managed to survive so long.
So, why don't we all just stay single instead of playing the game? I suppose the answer is buried deeply and safely within our DNA - perpetuation of the human race. We are all slaves to our urges, our primal, sub-conscious desire to procreate.
Eat. Drink. Sleep. Mate. Survive.
But if it's so necessary, why do we make it so hard? Perhaps it really is a game. A challenge, subconsciously designed over thousands of years to test potential mates, to find the highest quality suitor with which to bond. The smartest, strongest males, with the healthiest, most attractive females.
If it's a game, we may sometimes wish we could re-write the rules, because so often - like a casino on the Vegas strip - the odds seem to be stacked against us.
The best advice I've heard so far, and the best that I can pass on to you, is to focus on yourself. Focus on you, on living your life the way you want, on improving who you are. Then, when you do find your ideal mate, you will have more to offer them - a better you. Then, if you never do find that special someone to share the rest of your life with, at least the life you live will be a bit less lonely, and full of joy and meaning, even if lived alone.
Etta James - " At Last" with Lyrics
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© 2011 Daniel Petreikis
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