I’m tired of being told that there’s someone out there for me.
It’s now been five and a half years since I was with anyone who actually wanted to acknowledge being in a relationship with me. That was the man I was engaged to, a man who was kind enough to absolutely eviscerate my self-esteem before ending things. People told me even then, “you’ll find someone else, someone better, in no time.” I doubted it, knowing my own patchy dating resume: That I never went to my prom or a high school dance, never dated as a teen, and was almost a senior in college before I even had a boyfriend. Back then, in 2006, I found an Internet message board for women with broken engagements, and I was cheered by the stories of women who got out of bad relationships and within six months or a year they had met “the one.” Deep down, I still wondered if I would find anyone else, but those stories gave me a sliver of hope. Maybe I wouldn’t be waiting so long, after all.
It was well over six months before I even tried dating again. In the year following that, I dated a lot. In fact, it’s the only year of my life that I ever felt desired, popular, and that I ever enjoyed just dating as many guys as possible without really looking for love. That being said, I also made some questionable choices about who I spent my time with. A couple of those guys remain friends, none of them were “keepers” for sure.
Nearly two years after “the” breakup, I quit my office job, moved to Arizona, and started life over from the ground up. I think I needed that, but I also desperately wanted to be in a relationship again. In my first year here, I found three different guys who I thought were “nice” guys, all of them intelligent and men who I viewed as real potential mates. And every one of them proved a disappointment. One of them would continue to break my heart over and over intermittently for the next three years.
Now that I’m on the outs with that one again and maybe for good, I’m taking stock of my situation. Last time I was in a relationship with someone who could be described as a significant other, I was 26 years old. I am soon to be 32. I don’t remember what it’s like to wake up next to someone. Valentine’s Day is so hopeless that I pretend not to notice it. When my friends get married, they don’t even ask me if I have a guest; they already know. And don’t get me started on sex, or the lack thereof. I’ve thrown good money after bad on online dating, and have been on at least half a dozen sites. I’ve speed dated, joined groups, and begged my friends for fix-ups. And yet my dating has been steadily on the decline for the past several years. In the last year, I’ve only been out with two men. It can’t seem to fall much farther than that.
My therapist has told me that I need to keep thinking positively. I need to get over the guys who give me crumbs, and periodically tell myself that I will find someone who will truly love me, the right person at the right time, and I’ll have the life that I want. The problem is, every time I say it, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m lying to myself. Those words don’t feel like the thing I believe is true, they feel like the thing I say just to keep myself going. I hate feeling like I’m once again buying into false hope. I’ve come to the point in my life where I wish I could learn to just be happy with my career path and my dog and the friends that I have, and stop craving more. Wouldn’t that be the Buddhist thing to do? Isn’t it better to accept my current reality, rather than fixate on an uncertain future outcome? And, if so, why is it that I can’t let go of that desire for love and a family of my own, in spite of the ache it gives me on a lonely night like this?