Skip

33F, don't honestly feel like dating, but feel like I should.
August 12, 2014 11:06 PM   Subscribe

I am sitting here with a poochy belly over my underpants, having just eaten a forbidden snack, writing this question at 1am. My apartment is usually messy, and I don't look or feel particularly attractive (though I can clean up well). I don't have many friends in this city, so I don't go out very often. I'm also midway into 33, female, almost 2 years single (except for one "fwb" that's been over) since my last long-term relationship ended, and feel this immense pressure to DATE. RIGHT. NOW. before it gets *really* tough to find someone.

But the thing is, I don't really want to date right now (I could happily spend another year alone), and I can't see why anyone would want to date me once they see the real me as described above.

The good news is, I've used my single time to explore who I am, and I've never been more comfortable with who I am, my likes and dislikes. I trust myself. I have a creative hobby I am passionate about and working on almost every day, which I never thought was a point I'd get to (I had a decade-long creative block which I finally overcame). I'm proud of myself and how much I've matured since 2 years ago.

But that's different from feeling like an amazingly desirable creature. Sure, my online profile depicts a flattering photo and I come off as fun, driven, and intelligent. I get enough attention from men online. But it just feels like dating is going to be a series of performances, after which the guy will eventually see the real me, fall out of love and look for someone who's *always* good enough to show off. Someone who doesn't need makeup to look beautiful. Someone who cleans her house like an automaton. Someone who's always a joy to be around. And frankly, I can try my best, which I've always done in the past, not that it worked, but right now that seems like too much effort, and I would much rather spend that energy on my hobby.

But the pressure of being 33 is telling me I have to go on dates, I have to act a certain way, I have to sell myself as best I can, otherwise I will be doomed to never find the great love of my life. And then I look around and feel like no guy would want to be with me the way I am. And I don't just want any guy either... I've always held myself up to high standards about certain things, and the same goes for the guys I choose to date. It's probably too much pressure for most humans.

What am I doing wrong here? Which thought or behavior should I reassess? I feel better about myself when I've exercised and am on a roll with healthy habits. Is that the issue here -- I've fallen off the bandwagon on a few things that I didn't think were crucial but which actually are? Or am I just honestly not ready to date? Maybe I really need to see a therapist? Thank you.
posted by Sa Dec to Human Relations (37 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
No, you don't have to go on dates. Especially when it sounds like it's a joyless grind. Have fun with your hobby, have fun being yourself. Hang out with friends when you feel like it. Relax, there are always more people to meet and possibilities can open up at any time.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:35 PM on August 12 [8 favorites]


You absolutely do not ned to go on dates. Not unless it's something you want to do. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be your true self and relax.

On the other hand, I don't know other facets of your life and I am not an expert on the subject matter, but maybe think about whether you might be a little bit depressed?
posted by atetrachordofthree at 11:40 PM on August 12 [4 favorites]


no guy would want to be with me the way I am

The great thing about love is that it isn't a job application. There are no real minimum qualifications and you don't quite get to pick who you fall for. Sounds like you are having a wonderful time with yourself, enjoy it! Screw dating and just enjoy doing your thing, meet interesting people. If you're having a hard time with unhelpful thoughts then talking it out with a therapist might be worth a try or as you say, reinvest in those things (excercist etc) that you know to be helpful to you.
posted by Iteki at 11:48 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


You might be viewing dating or a relationship as dreary because of how you view yourself.

While I realize that this is not the ideal version you have of yourself, I think you'd be surprised to find that many men (esp. in their 30s) are quite happy to forgo an ideal body or an ideal house for someone they LIKE and have a nice time with. You should throw yourself out there, being frank and honest, and see if the takers you meet don't change your view of the dating world.
posted by counterfugue at 11:48 PM on August 12 [15 favorites]


It sounds like you're treating this as a job interview or exam where you must get perfect scores in everything, and your list of "everything" includes some very superficial aspects like your looks and cleanliness of your house.

Start making friends. Lots of them -- some "situational" friends for activities, some close ones, some that you get in touch with from the past. Then, when you're feeling positive and friendly and happy about yourself and others, go on a few dates. Keep the dates casual and go without expectations, other than having a nice evening out. The most attractive traits you can have are self-confidence and kindness.
posted by redlines at 11:50 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


I've fallen off the bandwagon on a few things that I didn't think were crucial but which actually are? Or am I just honestly not ready to date? Maybe I really need to see a therapist?

This sounds plausible. Thinking that you're undesirable is a self esteem issue that therapy can help with. You generally don't want to date when you're feeling so low about yourself. An orderly house and healthy lifestyle aren't really negotiables for adults who want to thrive and be happy, single or partnered.

Make a list of all the reasons you adore yourself. Look at that list everyday. Take better care of yourself. Find a way to keep your space clean & orderly. Keep following your passions. You have time to find a partner.
posted by Gray Skies at 11:52 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


I used to feel this pressure to date. Our society spends a lot of time warning women that we are GETTING OLDER and NO ONE WILL LOVE US and we used to be a 10 but maybe now we are a 8.235 or even a 3.825.

This is all bullshit.

When someone loves you, they will love the real you. It won't be about your hairstyle or your belly or your underwear on the floor. I didn't believe this until it happened, but it's true. Loving you is about the openness in the other person's heart, not about whether you eat "forbidden snacks". (Seriously. You are a free person. Snacks are legal. Nothing is forbidden to you.)

The good thing is that you don't have an expiration date. There is no final exam. There is nothing you need to do or not do to make love happen except have a good time until it comes.
posted by 3491again at 12:16 AM on August 13 [49 favorites]


But the pressure of being 33 is telling me I have to go on dates, I have to act a certain way, I have to sell myself as best I can, otherwise I will be doomed to never find the great love of my life. And then I look around and feel like no guy would want to be with me the way I am. And I don't just want any guy either... I've always held myself up to high standards about certain things, and the same goes for the guys I choose to date. It's probably too much pressure for most humans.

What is this "pressure of being 33" of which you speak and why is it using the imperative with you? I'm older, and I must say I never felt pressure to date or not date. Is this coming from your parents? Your friends? Whatever its source, you seem to have internalized the message, and I would encourage you to just stop.

Do you want to have, and carry, your own biological children, and is having a partner necessary for this? If the answers to these questions are "no", there is no reason to feel pressure to date right now. If you answered "yes," then Nature has imposed her timeline, and you must be cognizant of it.

If you have decided you don't want to have biologically-related children, then you should date when you feel like dating.

[A brief, cold hearted observation on the demographics: if you are seeking a male partner who is a few years older than you, then this is probably, statistically speaking, not the best time for you to date anyway; many of the 35-37-year-old men will be in their first marriages by now. But don't despair; some percentage of them will be back on the market in a few years! I'm obviously saying this somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and, of course, this is compatible with there being plenty of potential partners out there for you. I'm just trying to shake you out of this idea that you have some sort of obligation to date right now even if you don't want to.]

I think your big task is to figure out where this sense of "pressure" to date is coming from, and decide how you want to address it.

However, do keep in mind that the status quo and path of least resistance will likely be more alluring at any given moment than putting the necessary effort into dating; changes of routine are hard for most people. So if you are in the groove of single life, be aware that the groove might turn into a trench, and you may end up traveling on this path for longer than you would really like.
posted by girl flaneur at 12:31 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I feel this way sometimes and I'm 23. It's part of the socialization we get as women.

I also had this weird 'if and only if' in my head that was so dumb that I couldn't believe I had it, but I believed (sometimes still believe) that you had a boyfriend if and only if you were good enough. So 'being good enough' (upbeat, patient, clean + neat, thin, etc. etc.) would get me a boyfriend and my not having a boyfriend meant that I was deficient in one of the former.

Obviously not true, but again, socialization. This is when I grin at my non-gendered stuffed vegetables from IKEA and revel in their ridiculousness and cleverness all at once, i.e. make myself _stop it_. Sometimes I also decide to go to bed at that point.
posted by batter_my_heart at 12:42 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


33 is a hell of a lot younger than you seem to think. It's way too young to act like you're running out of time.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:00 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Speaking as someone who was married for many years, it's a joy to be able to sit around in your underpants eating snacks and not giving a fig whether or not your house is clean.or your stomach is sticking out.

You don't have to prove anything to anyone and if you don't want to date right now, then just don't date. Take down your online dating profiles and concentrate on those things you do that make you happy. Maybe you'll meet someone who you want to date, maybe you won't.

I think online dating can be really difficult if you're feeling insecure in any way. It's kind of like auditioning for both parties and people seem to market themselves like they're products. Therefore, none of your potential dates are admitting to messy apartments, they're also sucking in their stomachs, saying they do yoga, and enjoy foreign film, and trying to look a little more successful and together than they actually are. They're not telling you about those times when they feel hopeless or confused, or lonely, because it's marketing through performance. I don't miss it (online dating), myself.

I think you sound lovely, and funny and natural. Just be yourself and do what makes you happy. You're under no obligation to date to satisfy some kind of idea about what you 'should' be doing. I, for one, would love to be friends with someone who liked to eat snacks in their underwear and was willing to admit that.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 1:06 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, I fell heads over heels for the first woman on OkCupid I saw whose profile wasn't this performance of attractiveness and cleanliness and success... It was a well-written, funny self-description including flaws and "features." Even thinking in terms of flaws and features seems weirdly judgmental; I totally accept the (obvious) fact that all people have their own texture of characteristics, and the idea that dating must involve highlighting one aspect to the total exclusion of all others just seems silly.
But the pressure of being 33 is telling me I have to go on dates, I have to act a certain way, I have to sell myself as best I can, otherwise I will be doomed to never find the great love of my life. And then I look around and feel like no guy would want to be with me the way I am. And I don't just want any guy either... I've always held myself up to high standards about certain things, and the same goes for the guys I choose to date. It's probably too much pressure for most humans.
That's very clearly stated. I feel like this idea of age-related success at being a human would be very stressful.

Pardon for the gendered and maybe stereotypical language, but in the realm of heterosexual dating I think it's excusable — so, speaking for me as a guy and most of my guy friends, lovability has very little to do with this kind of self-selling performance, and if anything it can be a turnoff, because it can make it hard to see the "real" person inside, and that's what's really lovable. As far as I can tell, the people who do need this kind of performance are people who also perform that way, and also, I can't imagine a happy relationship built that way, because the walls are going to come down at some point.

Honestly, when I'm on OkCupid and such, I'm mostly just looking for people who seem to sort of have their guards down, who aren't trying hard to live up to some idea of perfection, who seem approachable and genuine and (in the words of the person whose profile I was talking about) "thank God are Actual People with skin flakes etc."
posted by mbrock at 2:02 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Hell, who would want to date if dating was how you described. The thing is that is doesn't have to be. It can be positive. It can be fun. It can be just you being you and people who are wrong for you moving on and the right people being attracted.

You don't have to do anything you don't want to is the bottom line. But you may want to work on rethinking what dating can be before you jump back into it.
posted by inturnaround at 2:13 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


I've started some worthwhile relationships while at my schlubbiest. If you truly don't care, be open and honest about the schlub. Go out in sweats. Invite them to your place. Who cares!

I think you might be afraid of enmeshment and creative death but couching these fears in an approved female fear--being rejected. Or you're afraid of being rejected. Or both, because you know your heart won't be in a relationship that quashes you, and yet you can't imagine any other kind.

Here's an exercise: think about what you want. If you had a genie to create the perfect relationship, what would it be? How would it fit into your current life? How often would you see each other? How would it affect your creative pursuit?
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:38 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


You don't have to date if you don't want to, of course, but this:

But it just feels like dating is going to be a series of performances, after which the guy will eventually see the real me

Man, fuck that shit.

Listen, when (if!) you decide to date, your focus should be "do I like this dude? Is he a good dude? Do I want to date this dude?" and not "does this dude want to date me?"

If you're putting on a performance to project some not-you image when you date, nobody benefits. Guys who would be super into who you actually are might be turned away completely and you will drive yourself crazy.
posted by phunniemee at 5:49 AM on August 13 [15 favorites]


You don't have to date if you don't want to. I went on a 5-year dating hiatus in my mid-20s. It was honestly some of the most fun years of my life. I partied a bit too much, devoted myself to dance, and made amazing friends. A+++ would do it again.

But from your post, it seems that your not wanting to date is rooted in insecurity rather than a genuine desire to be alone. And I empathize; no one likes being rejected and dating can be a minefield. But fear and insecurity are terrible reasons for making decisions, and I think that if you were really happy with yourself, you wouldn't be asking this question.

Your vision of dating is pretty bleak. I wouldn't want to do that either. But I don't think it's accurate, and if that's a pattern for you, I think it's worth talking to a therapist to figure out why it's happening and how to stop it.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:44 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


this

I've used my single time to explore who I am, and I've never been more comfortable with who I am, my likes and dislikes.

contradicts this:

I can't see why anyone would want to date me once they see the real me as described above.

If a clean apartment and a non-pooch belly was a prereq for dating, then my partner would have left me a long time ago.

Which thought or behavior should I reassess?

Reassess your self esteem & self worth. Your self worth is NOT based on eating healthy or a type of performance. You shouldn't feel bad about yourself for having one (1) unhealthy snack.

Continue to explore yourself but this time explore validating who you are right now. Not trying to live up to some imagined ideal of what you think other people want of you.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:49 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Yes, see a therapist! You say you like yourself, but:

My apartment is usually messy, and I don't look or feel particularly attractive
I can't see why anyone would want to date me once they see the real me as described above.
the guy will eventually see the real me, fall out of love
[I] feel like no guy would want to be with me the way I am.


Sound like you feel profoundly unlikeable. Those all show an inclination toward perfectionism that is destructive. No one is a perfect automaton; perfection is not humanly attainable. You don't have to date, but for your own self-esteem, go see a therapist.

I went to a therapist at 32 because I felt I "couldn't" date, but "should". It was hugely helpful in changing my thinking to the sort of reasonable things folks are saying about loving myself and others as flawed and awesome human beings. She helped me see that, yes, I Did desperately want to love and be loved, I'd just gotten mired in fears about dating. And that was the first of Many helpful sessions. Years later I'm so much happier, in my primary relationship and whole life.
posted by ldthomps at 6:50 AM on August 13 [5 favorites]


I am sitting here with a poochy belly over my underpants, having just eaten a forbidden snack, writing this question at 1am. My apartment is usually messy, and I don't look or feel particularly attractive (though I can clean up well).

I'd also like to add that this is basically me when I'm idling at home. I do a lot of lazing around my house in my underpants watching TV, eating ice cream, reading, doing little of tangible value, whathaveyou.

This may sound silly, but in between the part of my house where the couch is and the rest of the house (notably, where the fridge is) I have a wall of full length mirrors (specifically, the ones from Ikea that are shaped like bacon, a point that is not terribly relevant here but is important to me). Every time I walk past them (again, generally in my underpants) I look at myself and think "damn, I am fine as hell."

It's a reminder to myself a dozen+ times a day that I love my body and I love myself. If you're prone to negative self-talk maybe this won't work as well for you, but me I'm a little narcissistic so it works out great. This was hardly intentional when I bought the mirrors, but it happened to be a nice little side effect of having them there.

Once you become comfortable loving yourself for exactly who you are, you'll be able to give fewer fucks about how you think other people think you should be.
posted by phunniemee at 7:07 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Sure, my online profile depicts a flattering photo and I come off as fun, driven, and intelligent. I get enough attention from men online. But it just feels like dating is going to be a series of performances, after which the guy will eventually see the real me, fall out of love and look for someone who's *always* good enough to show off. Someone who doesn't need makeup to look beautiful. Someone who cleans her house like an automaton. Someone who's always a joy to be around.

So... I'm sitting here with a poochy belly hanging over my underwear in a messy apartment having just eaten pizza for breakfast. I'm halfway through 33 and I have been profoundly grumpy for the past two weeks, possibly for hormonal reasons, and possibly because I have struggled for all of my life with chronic depression, and that's just how it be sometimes.

My boyfriend, who lives here too, just kissed my no-makeup-in-weeks forehead before he hopped in the shower.

Don't date if you don't want to date; there's no law what says you have to. But nothing about you is an actual barrier to a fulfilling relationship at all. You haven't made an objective assessment of the situation; rather, you've invented an anonymous crowd of total dicks who you can preemptively reject. Maybe, as others have said, it might be time to work on the whys and wherefores of that, maybe in therapy, maybe not.
posted by like_a_friend at 7:16 AM on August 13 [6 favorites]


"I don't want to date right now because I'm enjoying being by myself too much" is very different from "I don't want to date right now because I'm afraid no one can love me as I am." I would definitely work on eliminating the latter belief.
posted by jaguar at 7:22 AM on August 13 [9 favorites]


I would like to gently suggest to you that while you like yourself, you might not love yourself.

I was with an abusive man for three years, and I've found myself play-acting in all of my romantic relationships since. I know, very deep down in my bones, that I am unlovable. And I think I know this because I lived with someone who said it to me and behaved that way towards me for years and years. It profoundly shaped me, and not for the better. I no longer love myself, nor do I really feel that I deserve romantic love. Sure, I am working on it, but I don't think it's a project that will ever be over, thanks to that man and what he did to me. Some of what he did to me may sound familiar to you: he threw dirty clothes at my head. He invited other women on our vacations and ignored me while treating them like queens (pulling out their chairs, making me cook elaborate dinners for them, etc.). He treated me like a prop, often resting his arm on my head. He wouldn't go out in public with me for the first year that we dated. He made me run to keep up with him, and actually preferred that I stay a few steps behind him when we walked. He made me fetch things around the house for him. And he was not very giving in bed. He often made fun of my orgasms, whenever he would "let" me have one and actually put in the effort to please me.

Is this description ringing any bells?

Healing from a relationship like that takes so much time. It takes so, so much time, and patience with yourself, and self-care. It takes a lot of time alone, too. You may not be ready to date yet.

I don't know when I am going to be able to be in a romantic relationship and truly be myself, rather than being this other person, someone with a hard candy shell around me. I fit all of the characteristics that you mention for a "good" girlfriend, now. I know that the person that I am when I am dating is not myself. Every time I show glimmers of myself now I feel sweaty and scared and anxious - for days. Days. I am so insecure, now.

I am talking a lot about myself because I think you and I are very similar. I think our life experiences to date have been similar and that those life experiences have made us very, very afraid to be in a romantic situation with another human being. Because when you let yourself be vulnerable in the way that is necessary for true love to take root? You let yourself be open to some really nasty stuff. What if it happens again? I know that I could not withstand another relationship that cut me at my core like that, and I don't really know if I trust myself to know if it's happening until it's too late.

What has worked for me is a lot of patience with myself, a lot of therapy, and then - now that I'm dating again - taking it incredibly, incredibly, slowly. I spend a lot more time by myself or with my friends than I do with my boyfriend, and I prioritize myself at all times, which is really difficult for me to do - but makes the relationship feel very safe for me.

I wish you the best of luck.
posted by sockermom at 7:37 AM on August 13 [13 favorites]


Im a mid thirties male and feel the exact same. No real interest in dating (in fact, 'dating' sounds miserable), but sort of feel pressured to do so or at least feel like a weirdo for not ever having a plus one. It actually does not bother me at all, but the older I get the more people tell me that is strange (either directly or indirectly). I sometimes think I am not mature enough to put someone else ahead of me, and sometimes I think I am just genuinely not interested in being in a relationship (usually I feel the latter). Regardless, I think what you are feeling is not uncommon.
posted by frednorton at 7:49 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


ldthomps has it - look into your habit of perfectionism.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:49 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Maybe I really need to see a therapist?

I don't think it could hurt, because (speaking as a guy who would theoretically, generally, possibly be in your dating pool) -

this; "I've never been more comfortable with who I am, my likes and dislikes. I trust myself. I have a creative hobby I am passionate about and working on almost every day" sounds like an awesome person who I could be totally interested in dating.

But this; "someone who's *always* good enough to show off. Someone who doesn't need makeup to look beautiful. Someone who cleans her house like an automaton. Someone who's always a joy to be around.[. . .] I will be doomed to never find the great love of my life." sounds like someone who has internalized a lot of cultural expectations and prescriptions and narratives about "What Women Should Be Like" and "What Men Desire In A Woman" and "Hurry Up & Get Hooked Up Before Your Fertility Goes Down The Tubes", and is thus someone not actually all that comfortable with themselves.

The two attitudes seem to be clashing and kind of paralyzing you, and maybe some professional help would be useful in sorting this out.

(Also, not to be all #notallmen about this, but those cultural narratives are not at all universal in the real world - tons of guys would not consider the cleanliness of your house a dealbreaker, or even all that important, for example. And the idea of wanting to date someone largely to "show [them] off" as some kind of signifier of masculinity just sounds sociopathically bizarre to me and, I would bet, a lot of other men. Even without therapy you could maybe put some thought into where these ideas about dating and relationships are coming from, and think about how well they really match with the actions and beliefs of people you actually know and encounter in your daily life.)
posted by soundguy99 at 8:33 AM on August 13 [3 favorites]


Maybe this feeling of pressure you describe is really just a feeling of inner conflict: you do want to be in a relationship with someone, but you don't want to go through all the work of dating. On-line dating, especially in certain cities, does involve some work and energy spent on self-presentation.

I wouldn't listen to people in long-term relationships who tell you that you can totally be yourself on these dates and show up in sweatpants, etc. While people in healthy long-term relationships do let their guards down, doing this when you first meet someone will very likely not give you the results you want. But putting some thought and effort into how you present yourself does not have to mean that you are fake or inauthentic or a victim of the patriarchy. Far from it, in fact. To be a human being involves behaving in certain ways in public that do not completely correspond to what we are like in private.

Now there are ways of ending up in a long term relationship that don't involve one-on-one meetings with a bunch of strangers. When you date someone who is already a friend or acquaintance you don't have to worry as much about how you present yourself. Your guard is naturally somewhat down already.

So, if you do want a relationship, but are having trouble with dating, here is my advice: either rethink what it means to make an effort with your self-presentation; understand that this is just part of what it is to be a human being encountering strangers and need not involve being some version of the *ideal woman* but will involve being different from who you are when you are alone at 1:00AM in your apartment.

Or date your friends. If you don't have any friends that are good prospects, go out and make more friends.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:06 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


It can so easily feel like the world has impossible standards of perfection. All over the internet, in ads on TV,in depictions of people on TV (whoever has a messy house or goes with out make up on TV?) it seems like there are all these people out there doing everything PERFECTLY and they won't like you because even though you like yourself, these people will have the impossible standards we're all bombarded with becoming (or buying products and therapy to become!! Did I mention you should be ashamed you haven't already fixed xyz trait or issue and I have a product or service for you!!??). Have you considered there are guys with messy houses who like wearing sweat pants and not giving a fuck also?

Would YOU want to date someone just like you? If so, the reality is, it's just a matter of the arduous difficult task of finding one of those such people-- who like to live like you like to live-- or whose differences are still compatible with the way you like to live.

If you aren't being totally honest about the degree to which you like how you're living, that's where therapy, or a new exercise routine, health focus or simply a cleaning service might help. You don't have to become someone else into order to look for being to date who are compatible with where you are now. But another thing to consider is, do you WANT to get somewhere else with your health and home? Because if so you may be avoiding dating someone in the same place you are because it might entrench you there further and you know eventually you'd like to find some solutions that work better.

If you do want kids you should care about health, hygiene, and a clean home. It's perfectly acceptable to not have energy to invest in more than what you're currently doing and outsources some of the labor of improvements in those areas-- again,cleaners, exercise coaches, buying healthy prepared foods, therapy and emotional support. If this is not about kids you never have to become some media version or internet espoused version of perfectly "healthy" you're allowed to not care that much about it and seek a partner who feels the same and live happily in a messy house together wearing sweatpants and leaving your clothes all over the floor EVERY DAY. It is a thing you're totally allowed to do (though I would recommend against allowing actually biohazard garbage to take over your home, that's another matter).
posted by xarnop at 9:44 AM on August 13


I literally met my current boyfriend while wearing sweats. Also if it doesn't work you're where you already are, but without restrictive waistbands.

Idk. I'm all for selling yourself but it means selling what you have, not waiting until you're a completely different person and selling her, or selling an image you can't maintain.

Don't fart until it's been at least a year though trust me on that
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:50 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


I wouldn't listen to people in long-term relationships who tell you that you can totally be yourself on these dates and show up in sweatpants, etc.

Just for what it's worth, yes I put on actual pants when my current SO and I went out on dates.

However, I was nonetheless pretty much "totally being myself," albeit a sort of "hey I'm at a restaurant" version of myself. He saw me without makeup within the first couple of weeks. My apartment was mostly as it tends to be from the start. I did not wear more makeup on our dates than I enjoy wearing otherwise. I did not wear taller shoes or nicer ones. MOREOVER, I was cranky and bitter about the whole fucking deal, thanks to a shitty previous breakup. All of these, mortal sins according to the gurus of dating while vagina'ed.

True, I would have observed the young rope-rider's fart rule but he farted first and well, I'm not about to be outdone.

This is probably coming across as smug or something. But it is only meant to illustrate that it's possible to bring yourself, just your true, flawed, somewhat ridiculous self, to the table and have that self be loved.

By every single person on earth? No. But who has time to date every single person on earth anyway? If a guy is not going to be able to hang with my authentic self, I want to know that fast. Bonus: You don't have to worry about the "right" time to let your true self show if you never hid it to begin with.
posted by like_a_friend at 10:02 AM on August 13 [7 favorites]


It is easy to feel like the standards are impossible. But the thing is, everyone has their issues. Just an anecdata, I was 33 when I met my fiance, and had many of the same body issues you describe. I remember on the third date ot so sitting him down and telling him that I tended to move slow on the physical stuff because I was shy about my body, and I did not want him to feel like it was a reflection of my interest blah blah blah dramacakes, and he stopped me, lifted up his shirt to show me a giant surgical scar and asked me if that was okay. I had been so wrapped up in my own body stuff that it had never occured to me he might have them too. And the fact that he did made me feel so relieved because I felt like if his body wasn't 'perfect' then he wouldn't judge mine. The scar he was so worried about actually comforted me.

Realize too that everyone has their own unique deal-breakers. His one deal-breaker, following a bad divorce with a woman like this, was a woman who did not have a career and could not manage her own money. My one deal-breaker, following two years of poverty in Career A before I went back to school for Career B, was a man who did not know how to follow a budget and live within his means. So we were a match made in heaven. Since I did not have the traits about his ex which didn't work for him, the fact that he was not able to be successfully in a relationship with her was not an issue. And since I did have the traits he was seeking, my age didn't matter, and my life experience counted in my favour.

This doesn't mean that you have to go out and date right now if you don't want to. But maybe it can encourage you to cut yourself a little slack and realize that the things you might think are a bog deal might not be as a big a deal as you believe they are, if they are the only things which are stopping you from going out and having fun.
posted by JoannaC at 10:50 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


I've had a lot of the same feelings before. I think most people who are single for a while do, especially women approaching the age where biological clock (and society demanding all women listen to it) becomes more of an issue. What has helped me a lot:

1) taking a long break from online dating, and also not going out to social events with the single intention of finding someone to hit on. I haven't been on a date since I took my profile down in Feb, but I am so so much happier. I'm getting to know my friends better and taking advantage of the freedom of being single to do things like travelling alone. I've done breaks of a few weeks-months before as well, and that also helped, but this extended break is doing wonders for my happiness. I find that online dating really wears me down over time and I needed to recover for a while.

I would still like to find someone to date, but dating actively was making me miserable, and taking a break doesn't mean you're giving up, or swearing off dating forever. It's not really any different than going into a relationship that ends after a few months - you're just dating yourself instead.

2) getting into a regular workout routine that makes me pay attention to form (bodyweight, yoga, weights). After ingraining things like not hunching, back straight, etc for the workouts, it definitely carries over into everyday posture. It's also pretty awesome feeling yourself get stronger - maybe you're walking up the stairs and suddenly thinking "damn my legs are getting strong" or just enjoying the feeling of using your muscles for what they're intended, or feeling physically competent, knowing that you're strong enough to climb up that hill, or whatever. Or checking yourself out in the mirror and seeing that you now have actual biceps, or muscles showing in your legs, and getting all excited instead of focusing on that stupid flabby spot that never goes away.

The regular boosts to confidence/self-esteem are my favourite part of working out - the increased energy/health and gradual appearance improvements are just a bonus.
posted by randomnity at 11:02 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Also - if you haven't seen this thread, check it out! I've even re-read it a couple times since it's been posted. A lot of really awesome points in there - things to appreciate about being single, as well as some things to do that are a lot more fun as single.
posted by randomnity at 11:07 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


When I'm not working out (the case right now), my basic level of energy, already variable, gets more so, and tends to sit on the low end. I can just about focus it on a couple of non-physical things in bursts, and then crash. The house goes to shit. I live in my head, somewhere on top of my body, which just winds up carrying me around more or less uncomfortably.

When I'm working out, I'm just more efficient as a person. More, and more regular energy, more drive (all kinds, including the kind that motivates dating and dancing and just wanting to go out); I feel brighter, walk taller, things around the house get done, my reaction times are amazing. I get pulled back into my body, which feels and looks better. I'm more inclined to take care in dressing it, etc.

There's nothing wrong with being kind of slobby and in your head, and you should run from anyone who'd insist that you run your house like a hotel, and of course you are loveable as you are. But, I'm also going to say, of course, order and balance in body, mind and home are more attractive than not. But it's not for the sake of others or dating that you should bother, if you're going to, it should be for you.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:36 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


From your description you sound pretty much like the sort of person I'd want to date, "warts" and all. It kills me that you think this all makes you undateable. Someone who's creative, passionate, and comfortable with who she is? Sounds good. Trust me, not every guy is looking for someone to show off. In fact, in general I find people who aren't surface-perfect to be a total relief, and I'm not alone there at all.
posted by naju at 1:38 PM on August 13


Okay I couldn't read through all the comments but just wanted to say that if (a) eating a forbidden snack (b) having a poochy belly sometimes (c) having a messy house sometimes was really a barrier to being in a relationship, 99.9% of Americans would be single.

Now, always doing (a) (b) and (c) and feeling bad about them will make you sad. And if those things are a problem in your life, work on them. But they are beside the point when it comes to dating. Many long-term coupled folks I know spend the occasional night in, watching Netflix and chowing on snacks happily (and of course, working out, being healthy, going on adventures, etc. at other times -- the key is balance)!
posted by rogerrogerwhatsyourrvectorvicto at 1:41 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Don't be so hard on yourself! Really. There are good, heterosexual men out there who simply do not give a fig about your poochy belly, or your food habits, or your messiness. My boyfriend certainly doesn't. My belly is the poochiest, and I eat like crap sometimes/most of the time. I don't like those things about myself (and I'm working on changing them), but they don't stop me from dating/being in relationships. Men know that real-life women are not the people you see on TV.

If you're happy (really, truly happy) being single right now, more power to you! Partnership is not the end-all, be-all, and being single is great sometimes.

But if you aren't dating because you think no one wants to date you...you might want to examine why that is.
posted by Ragini at 1:53 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Many great answers here. You yourself actually nailed it when you wrote: "I feel better about myself when I've exercised and am on a roll with healthy habits. Is that the issue here -- I've fallen off the bandwagon on a few things that I didn't think were crucial but which actually are?" Yes, THIS, absolutely.

Or to put it another way, you are lacking some "keystone habits" in your life right now.

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about keystone habits: small changes or habits that people introduce into their routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of their lives. (Such as exercise. Getting rid of clutter. Making one's bed every morning. Flossing. etc). Keystone habits have a ripple effect into other parts of one's life, creating positive change unexpectedly. Sounds like this is definitely something you could start doing for yourself, and it would pay off.
posted by hush at 2:24 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


« Older I'm looking to play tennis cas...   |  Photography has been a lifelon... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments



Post