By Dena Landon
Two days ago I disabled all my online dating accounts. The methods were different, either hiding myself from discovery or disabling and logging out, but the end result was the same. Poof! No more online dating for me. When one of them sent a short follow-up survey asking if I’d met someone, I laughed. Hell, no! In fact, in six plus months I haven’t been on one date (not even coffee) or connected with a single man I found truly interesting. It was starting to get depressing. And I was starting to get cynical and jaded. It was time to take a break.
Sometimes you just have to give yourself permission to log off. But how can you tell when it’s time? Here are a few of my warning signs. If dating feels like a chore, or an obligation, something to check off your ‘to do’ list. If you get a notification that you have a new message and instead of excitement your primary feeling is one of dread. If you’re swiping left on every man with a cynical comment, “Married,” “Lives with his Mom,” or “Peter Pan complex,” it’s time to take a step back.
If you’re swiping left on every man with a cynical comment, it’s time to take a step back.
After all, if you’re in a negative headspace you’re not going to attract the right kind of person into your life anyway, are you? If you do meet a guy in the coffee shop or bar you’re more likely to pick apart all his perceived flaws rather than see his potential. Listen to the words you’re using when you talk about dating with your friends. That attitude is likely communicating itself to the men you meet.
Now, I’m not a fan of sayings and advice that basically make it your fault that you’re single. I shouldn’t have to force a perky personality when I’m a natural pessimist just to get a date. Nor should I have to fake an interest in any of the following; hiking, boating, camping, fishing, hunting, rock climbing or motorcycles, in order to find a boyfriend (I live in the Midwest. The men here are rather one note). There’s a difference between being open to new experiences and forcing yourself to do something you already know you don’t like in the hopes it will lead you to a man. But when I start making snarky comments – like the one above about men being one note – I know that I’m letting the world of online dating get to me in unhealthy ways.
Ultimately, our goal is to find the love and companionship we thought we’d found in our marriages. It’s unlikely it was all bad from the beginning, and we may miss the good aspects of being with someone. Not just sex, but someone to talk to about our day. My son’s solution of attacking the mean guy at work that I don’t like with a lightsaber, while cute, is not very practical. It would be nice to have someone to go grab milk at 10pm when I discover that we’re out, or to talk about the movie we just saw. To cuddle with on the couch or hold my hand on a nightly walk. There’s a reason I’m trying to date and find someone again, despite the way my marriage ended.
But after that ending many of us struggle with a layer of cynicism and have to dig our way out of self-doubt and sorrow before even considering dating. It’s a huge act of hope to put ourselves on the market again. You should congratulate yourself for taking that step. But because we have already been hurt the cuts and slights of dating post-divorce can sometimes feel even worse. Like they come with an extra helping of, “See, you will spend your life alone! Bwahahaha!” They may bring up nasty things our ex said on his way out the door, or those high school rejections that are so hard to shake. Which is why I say – be gentle with yourself.
You will make mistakes in post-divorce dating. I have, lots of them, but they’re not fatal.
Ignore the friends urging you to climb back up on that horse (or bike, or whatever metaphor they’re using). Tell them to set you up with their dentist’s nephew next month. Spend some time in the bathtub with a glass of wine and a good self-help book. Remind yourself that yes, you are worthy of love. You will make mistakes in post-divorce dating. I have, lots of them, but they’re not fatal. You may just need more time to heal from them before trying again.
So, no OkCupid, I haven’t found someone yet. And my most reliable Friday night date is with two guys named Ben & Jerry’s. I’m not particularly happy about this, though I’m still happier than when I was married to the wrong man. In a month I’ll probably log on and reactivate all my profiles. Until then, I plan to make some headway on projects around the house, my Netflix queue, and a few self-help books to reset from jaded and cynical to hopeful and positive.
About the author
Dena Landon is a single mom who eats raw cookie dough, passionately debates intersectional feminism and frequently tangles herself in yarn. Her work has appeared on The Washington Post, Narrative.ly, Salon, bust.com, and in Dance Teacher and Dance Spirit magazines. Her first novel was published by Dutton Children’s Publishing in 2005. She blogs at femmefeminism.com, and can be found on Instagram and Facebook.