Dating is like having a second job. I don't think that comes as a real shock to anyone. It takes time, energy, effort, brainpower, it makes me tired just writing about it. Notice I'm really just referring to the starting line of dating. Once you find someone to date on the reg, it's nice. But guess what phase I'm at.
Aside from the actual energy expenditure, there's something else to consider. Dating can hurt. It can offend, creep-out, and cause emotional confusion and pain. There's only so much of this crap I can take before I need some time off, and I didn't always know that.
I've started to see the signs. I know when it's time for an online dating shutdown for the foreseeable future. I used to ignore the signs, thinking just pushing through was the way to go, but then I talked to a bottle of wine about it and decided its for the best. This is how I know when I need a break, but I'm curious how other people bow out of the dating world, too.
1. Technology Starts To Scare Me
When I can't stand to look at an app or website without my stomach flipping over, it's time to power down. I move all my dating apps to the last screen on my phone so I don't have to see them every time I want to Instagram something. It's literally a feeling that makes me lose my appetite. The idea of logging on, flipping through tiny little weird photos of guys in their bathroom mirrors. I've seen thousands, yet if I have to see one more, I'll need meds.
2. I Crave Solitude
I start going to dinner alone instead of making a date. I look forward to Friday AND Saturday night at home. I don't call my mom as much. I order Fresh Direct to avoid the grocery store. I write posts that make me sound like a lunatic on XOJane.
When it sounds BETTER to sit at a restaurant's counter alone with my thoughts and a game of Candy Crush, something needs to change, and fast. (Disclaimer: In general I hate going to dinner alone, no offense if you do.) There's absolutely no reason to shut down every aspect of my personal and social life simply because the dating part of it is beating me up. I need to get better at that.
3. I Lie.
I would rather pretend not to speak English than have small talk with someone in public. I leave work early for a date. I ain't got no date. If somehow I get an email from a guy online, via my website or some other random connection, I lie to him, too. Anything to avoid contact that could potentially lead to a date. Because a date could potentially lead to awfulness. I'm not well.
4. I Hate Men
Around this time, the only dude I can talk to is my stepdad. Strangers on the subway, guys in the elevator, Coffee Shop Man, all of them are assholes. Assholes! They're all going to inevitably say or do something that's going to make me feel bad, and thus I avoid them at all costs.
Are you seeing yet why I need a break? All men are not assholes. Not even close. They're rad, man! They're funny and smart. I don't hate them. And when I notice that I start too, I shut my laptop, turn off my phone, and chill the hell out.
5. I Hate Happy People
How the HELL is this random girl I know from law school on Facebook posting pictures of her third engagement? How is this chick I knew in high school absent from my feed every day of my life except the day she gives birth?? Get out of here with your joy! I have no joy! You wanna know what I got? I've got unreturned text messages and cancelled dates and men who pursue me until they get me to like them and then disappear and it won't stop happening and I'm going to throw my coffee cup into the wall if I get one more creep-ass email via online dating referring to me as "cutie" OH MY GOD.
A break is a real break. No dating, no online-ing, just a real rest from the grind of making plans, making small talk, and making choices about how I feel about someone new. It's a healthy re-charge that I used to completely disagree with (I didn't want to be out of the game), but now I support it. Next? I want to know how to take a better break. How to reconnect with what I really want to be doing (not dating-wise, BTW), and really enjoy life-solo. Now...how should I do that?