Throwing in the Towel

Yesterday my therapist suggested that I quit online dating. In my brief re-experiment with putting myself on the market, I’ve had dates with three guys who were just OK, and corresponded with two other guys who I gave up on after repeated e-mail exchanges that were no more than two sentences long each on their end. The most “success” I had was the guy I went on about five dates with, over the course of a month, who I never even touched. It wasn’t a huge surprise when he stopped calling me after his last business trip, and it didn’t feel like much of a loss on my end either… except that everything feels like a loss or a failure at this point in my life. I passed another birthday this week with no one to share it with. I’m about to go back home to upstate New York where I’ll see one of my close friends get married, meet another’s new baby, and will be the third wheel on innumerable hanging out sessions where husbands, boyfriends, etc. are always present. I, as usual, have nothing new to share about my love life.

My therapist’s advice to quit dating came after I burst into tears when describing myself as “that thing at the store that’s left on the shelf while all the other things get bought, and you just look at it and you know it’s been there forever.” That is truly how I see myself. I have no delusions about who I am–I’m smart, I’m at least moderately attractive, I’ve lost over 30 pounds and don’t drink like a fish anymore. I run half marathons, I almost have a Ph.D., and I’m a good teacher. But that doesn’t seem to be what matters to men. I feel like I’m invisible sometimes; and I’m as bad at meeting people online as I am when I go out in person. As I get older, it doesn’t get any easier.

I think my therapist’s idea was that, by taking myself off the market, I relieve the pressure on myself. I save myself the constant feeling of rejection that I get when online dating–or any kind of dating–just doesn’t pan out. She pointed out that I’m planning to leave Arizona in a year or so anyway and that “it’s probably just not meant to happen here.” But in my heart I’ve started to believe it won’t happen anywhere. My last serious relationship ended almost six years ago back in New York. Before that, I was raped by a guy I met at a bar. The last guy I loved here in Tucson just completely stomped on my heart (as I let him reject me over and over again). At this point, even the thought of going out and meeting new guys who can hurt me again makes me a little sick to my stomach. There’s something called path dependence, and I feel like someone who has been so spectacularly unsuccessful at finding and forming healthy relationships in the past is quite unlikely to do so in the future. The truth is–there’s just not someone out there for everyone, and lots of people go through their whole lives without ever finding a love that lasts.

I just wish I could stop wanting it.

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3 thoughts on “Throwing in the Towel

  1. I feel like that too. Online dating can be really soul destroying, and think how awful it must be for people who aren’t even a bit attractive, sadly. I have a friend who’s feeling a bit down about it, a man,and I’m trying to rework it so we play it for laughs and fun instead of a serious quest, to cheer us both up. But yeah, I agree with what you say, why should there be someone for everyone? On the other hand, I think it depends how picky you are too. there’s often someone, but they may not be exactly the someone you were thinking of.

    • Yeah, I get that. I have a group of female friends who also said that they try not to take online dating seriously either, that they do it for a laugh and compare notes on guys. Obviously, I do take it seriously and perhaps that leads to inevitable disappointment… But, on the other hand, if everyone is just doing it for a lark, how is anyone ever really going to succeed? Blah.

  2. I have five friends who met and married the people they met online. The last man I was with I also met online. We were together for three years but he recently broke my heart and now I’m seriously doubting it will ever happen for me. I feel your pain. I really do. Dating, be it online or not, isn’t easy. At least not for everyone.

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