My dating life has followed a pattern for roughly the last decade: I find a guy after 8 months of being single then we spend a night, a weekend, and once, five and a half years together. Once or twice I ended it, but the ones who walked, or faded, away stick with me the most.
I spend more time beating myself up for not being enough for a man six years my junior who I had very little in common with, who insulted feminists on our first date and who ignored my text messages until he wanted to have sex with me.
Or the man five years my senior who I didn’t find all that interesting, but still took it to heart. I liked sex with the boy and food with the man, but neither as a potential partner, and still their rejection left me a puddle of self-pity for longer than I would like to admit. Of course, no one likes rejection. We want to think of ourselves as too good to be passed up and most of us probably have close friends reassuring us we are a catch and it’s not you, it’s them. With so many people in our corner, how can we feel so alone?
Many of my friends and I stayed in relationships for a lot longer than we should have due to fear of being alone. We worried we wouldn’t find anyone who truly understood us, and we would be stuck with ourselves, a never ending supply of tacos, and a lot of cats. So we should stay with this person who likes us enough when she isn’t disrespecting us or when he isn’t neglecting us and hey, things are pretty good when we aren’t being gaslighted, manipulated, or abused.
It isn’t all tied to the fear of loneliness, of course. We don’t want to believe we feel in love with an asshole. And when it comes to being in love with an addict, we want to believe we can rid them of their demons. For some people, it all works out in the end. But for me I decided I wasn’t going to take the chance that he may get sober and maybe he just wasn’t a bad boyfriend. Eventually, I feared the what-ifs of staying in the relationship more than those of being alone. And tacos of solitude sounded exactly like what I needed.
When I finally stepped out in to the dating world again, I quickly experienced the fade out. And the fact I was only marginally interested in these men did not soften the blow. I decided I was giving up and accepted my spinsterhood. I wallowed in my pity with chocolate, wine, romantic comedies, Grey’s Anatomy binges—my typical post-rejection routine, and just as I did a year earlier when I broke up with my ex, somewhere along the way I realized I was enjoying myself. Amidst all that solitary Netflix binging I was spending time with people who truly loved me and supported me.
I began to be ok with being alone, relishing it even. I had all the freedom I could hope for and the only person holding me back was me. Now, it is up to me to make my own happiness. This is possibly the scariest part of being alone because I can’t use someone else as an excuse not to change or take a chance that may result in failure. Now it is up to me to deal with my own baggage and shortcomings. But, who knows, maybe in 6 months when this current eight month increment is done, the guy I meet will be “the one”–or at least the one who will treat me well for a time. Until then, I will be going on dates with a wonderful woman who loves me more than anyone else in my life.
If you are that point where the “when it’s good it’s really good” rationalization is wearing thin and you are doing the crying in bed every night even though you’re still together thing, but you still can’t quite let go, then maybe it’s time to see being alone as something scary. You can’t make someone treat you better. You also can’t make someone better. Two lessons I learned the hard way and took way, way too long to learn. I don’t want to be all,“If you love something,” or whatever, but really, que sera, sera. It’s time to stop being someone you don’t like very much with someone you no longer get along with very well and be the kind of person you with whom you would want to spend all of your time.
It’s possible you might be as awesome as your friends say; it might have been him and not you, but he’s definitely just not that into you. And that’s ok. Work on being alone and happy. And it may be eight months or eight years or eight days before you meet someone else, but until then you are in the best of company, and it comes with tacos.