Here I follow up where I left off in my first post of this series, where I’m sharing a few posts I wrote last year about starting to date again after becoming recently single.
SUNDAY, MARCH 29, 2009
Back in the Saddle
So over this past week I’ve had a few friends mention to me that they’re liking what I’m doing with this whole blog deal. One friend confessed to me that she reloads the page “a little too often” because she’s excited to check for my latest commentary or personal update (thank you by the way for letting me know that, it was the highlight of my day). I want to let whoever is reading know how flattered I am to hear there are people out there who like what I’m saying and find it mildly entertaining, if not somewhat enlightening. I’ve only shared this link with a handful of people, so I was pretty sure that my 43 views were from my parents sitting at home and reloading the page repeatedly so I’d feel better about myself. Which, now that I think about it, I’m a little bit disappointed they haven’t been doing. Don’t you love me mom and dad? DON’T YOU??
So even though I’ve been crazy busy for the last few weeks and don’t really have any thoughts or reflections of substance (although a couple of fun posts are in the works), I thought I’d give my “fans” (I use that term extremely loosely) a little update on what I’ve been up to dating wise and where things are going from here:
For the last three weeks I’ve been on my inpatient pediatrics rotation, and between 12-hour days, call, minimal sleeping and the occasional rushed meal, I haven’t had a ton of time to date. My last date was actually weeks ago, when I met up with the TV writer for the third and final time (and yes, a couple of weeks is a fairly long time for me to go sans dating). It was one of those situations where he was cute and interesting, but I just wasn’t feeling it enough to go out with him again. He had texted me right after I got home from the date asking me out for dinner a few days later. I knew it was time to let this one go, so I gave him a call back and let him know that while I thought he was a great guy, the chemistry just wasn’t there for me. He seemed disappointed but was very nice about it. I noticed though, that he called me twice within five minutes of the phone conversation ending without leaving a message (my phone was in a different room and I didn’t hear it ring). A little strange, no? My roommate surmised that he was calling to try and get me to give him another shot, although he could have just as easily been calling because he was pissed that I ended things and wanted to get it off his chest. Whatever it was, I didn’t think it would be a good idea to call him back to find out the answer.
It’s been interesting reflecting on what my love life has been like since the end of my last relationship. Since I started dating post break up, around two months ago, I’ve gone out with eleven or so people. The vast majority of those dates fell into the gaping middle ground that can only be characterized by a shoulder shrug and a signed “meh.” Some guys I liked, but there just wasn’t enough pull to keep it going. Only one date was dreadful (with the nerdy-nerdy philosophy professor… that’s a story that’s itching to be told). And only one of those guys did I feel a strong connection and chemistry with. While he and I dated for about a month, it eventually fizzled out for lack of certain compatibilities and commonalities. So after eleven people, dozens of dates, a multitude of drinks, and exactly eleven endings (some over text, some by phone call, most via mutual “fade out,” I’m back in almost the same place I was in a few months ago.
I say “almost” because while I’m equally single as I was then, I am a profoundly different person from the terrified girl I was after the end of my last relationship. For anyone who’s every gone through a shitty breakup, you know that one of the hardest parts about dating again is the fear that there’s no one else out there for you. It’s hard not to be afraid you’ve already met the best person in the world for you, but that you managed to fuck it up and will therefore be relegated to a lifetime of loneliness and despair. Every mediocre date can serve as reinforcement of this fear. The only advice I can offer to anyone going through a similar experience is to say your fear is not the reality. Find the part of you that is most afraid, and comfort it as you would any other living creature that you saw in pain. It’s hard not to feel compassion for yourself when you imagine what you are most afraid of, whether it is personal, professional, or anything else, as a manifestation of a child-like fear. Engage the part of you that is driven to alleviate suffering in others and direct it toward yourself.
It’s easy to say (and write), but infinitely harder to do in practice. Believe me, I think about this sort of thing all the time and I still struggle constantly with treating myself kindly. When my ex ended our relationship, he presented me with a list of all of my “deficiencies.” In what was not his finest moment, he diagrammed out for me all the ways in which I lacked important character traits and virtues, and therefore, failed to meet his needs. It took me months to stop internalizing those criticisms. It was terrible, but the deepness of the suffering I felt over what he said and did was tremendously motivating. I was compelled to transform the relationship I had with myself. When I reminded myself that I didn’t need to be a perfect girlfriend, or perfect student, or perfect human being, a weight was lifted off my shoulders that allowed me to be myself. The relief was palpable.
But at the same time, it’s terrifying to let go of these expectations, because the expectations are created by the part of ourselves that feels we’re not good enough as we are. Especially for exceptionally motivated and driven people (hello, medical school!), there is the fear that if we cut ourselves a break, we’ll become… well, mediocre. But really, truly compassionate people are rarely mediocre. So I’m going to keep reminding myself that I don’t need to be perfect to be loved, and forge ahead.
Now that I’m done with the hell of inpatient pediatrics and onto the glorious nine-to-noon schedule of psychiatry (hence my decision to become a psychiatrist), I’ve decided it’s time to end my dating hiatus and get back out there. I went on match and jdate over the weekend and responded to some of the emails that had collected over the past few weeks, and emailed some new guys I came across. As always, details to follow.
Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon.