Date-o-phobia

by Sarah on July 5, 2013

awkward coupleI’ve got a confession to make.

I have date-o-phobia.

It’s not that I don’t want to date people. It’s just that until now, I’ve been largely afraid of it.

Much of this is because ‘dating’ to me has so many implications and expectations associated with it. I suspect there are other singlers who have faced this problem.

Until very recently, when I’ve started to be able to “come out” as a singler to people I meet, I just assumed that dating was for people who were looking for All The Things. I mostly never bothered with dating because I didn’t want to get into situations that gave people the wrong expectations.

I’m sure this is somehow related to the last boyfriend I had, seven years ago, who was ready to follow me to the ends of the Earth, when I knew that I hadn’t yet even begun to experience all the things life had to offer. Even before I came to my current single/poly thing, I knew I just wasn’t interested in that level of commitment, and it was a whole lot of awkward and painful for me to have to end things with, possibly, one of the nicest people on the planet.

On the other hand, I’ve heard some fabulous dating stories (and some terrible ones) in the last few days, and have been rethinking the whole thing. I’ve been up on some dating websites before now, but I think I need to make this a priority, for a few reasons.

I love meeting new people. I love interesting stories. I want to have more shiops in my life, of varying shapes and sizes, and they don’t come about naturally as much as they once did. Dating seems to be the way of these things in ‘adult’ life. I’m willing to at least admit that much, despite my strong attachment to the idea that adult life need not look as different from non-adult life as our society wants us to think.

So when I think about dating more, I need to figure out how to feel safe in being who I am without being defensive... I wouldn’t want to repel the right people in an attempt to keep the wrong ones out. But I think if I’m clear about how I am and what I want in the world, then hopefully I don’t need to worry overmuch about getting into situations where I have to disappoint. Or maybe that’s just another part of life that I need to learn to navigate.

That being said, I’m convinced we still need better words for these things. There is a huge difference, for me, between “I’m going out on dates with someone but it’s not exclusive and may or may not be serious,” and “I’m in a committed relationship with someone,” both of which, as it turns out, could be referred to as “dating.” So in trying to avoid the second kind of dating, I’ve also been avoiding the first, which, as I’m discovering, is definitely unnecessary avoidance.

And yet again, my mind is blown by how much our language is biased towards coupling. And how much language influences our perceptions and experiences.

And so, in another attempt to put myself out there in the hopes that it will ultimately aid others, I’m publicly committing to finding out how to date as a singler.

Stay tuned…


Singler or not, I’d love to hear about your experiences with dating. Love it, hate it? Let me know in the comments below.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen J October 5, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Hurray! for new vocabulary!

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Saul August 15, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Yeah, I completely relate to this! I missed out on so many relationships in the past because I thought that if I didn’t want it to be “long-term and forever,” then I was being dishonest. Meanwhile, my friends who were “dating with intent to marry” ended up moving through several relationships in the time that I was single. Now, I think it’s better to focus on what you can bring to each others’ lives in the time that you’re together and not let that be overshadowed by the fact that you may break up someday or be interested in someone else. Thanks for sharing!

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