Here's How Dating Doesn't Have to Suck So Hard
Get Friendly with the Discomfort of Desire
Dating suuuucksss. At least, that’s how I’ve been feeling about it lately, and I know that I’m not alone in that. I’ve been contemplating some ways to make it suck it a little less for myself and hopefully for you too.
To begin with, I’m proud of myself for trying. Searching for a partner is a very vulnerable, emotionally difficult thing, and I give myself mad props for being willing to get out there. The most difficult part of dating is having this desire for love and intimacy but having no control over the many variables that factor into finding a good partner. It’s a big ask of the Universe to bring this kind of connection, and it’s an unnameable mystery to find it.
There’s something weirdly uncomfortable about the experience of desire, and it’s much deeper than a want or a need. Desire is this intense, hyper awareness that you don’t have something that would be really beautiful to have and experience. Sarah Jarosz’s song Fuel the Fire explains it perfectly, “Let fulfillment fuel the fire>>>hide the emptiness inside>>>we all cover up desire>>>learn to face it with our pride.”
Sometimes it’s easier to “cover up desire” than to face it. In college I had this thing called the “boy switch.” Whenever I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of desire I would shut that shit down and turn it off. There’s another name for the boy or girl switch; it’s called denial, and denial is an abandonment of reality and self. It was very unkind of myself to not accept, process, and be present with my longings. I’m still want to do this, and sometimes it feels easier to consider myself a badass, fiercely independent woman who focuses on her sobriety and career than to be open to romance.
What would happen, though, if I made friends with my urge to merge instead of begrudging it? Making friends with discomfort has worked for me in another life-altering situation. When I realized I was an alcoholic, I realized I was in a state lack. Witnessing my lack allowed me to get the help I needed, and I began to learn that “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). I would not have the power and privilege of sobriety and a beautiful community of sober people who continuously support me today if I had not first been a weak drunk. This experience has allowed me to see that “when I am weak, I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
Desire for romance feels like weakness, but it is another opportunity to be made stronger. My wish for a partner allows the space for a loving partner to arrive. This space currently feels really empty and lonely, barren and echo-y like an unfurnished apartment, but it’s the preparation needed for commitment and love. This shift in perspective about wanting love makes the “wanting” seem more palatable, and the boy switch less tempting.
I have choices: I can stay in the sadness of not having something, or I can delight in and look forward to its coming. I celebrate that I’ve acknowledged and witnessed my lack and loneliness, but I do not wish to live there. Now, I can look forward to the beauty and mystery of meeting someone who has the qualities I want in a life partner. I can delight in the happiness and joy that they will bring to my life. I can imagine morning coffee, hikes through the woods, meditations, and cooking dinner together. Doing life with someone sounds wonderful and beautiful, but I must first be open to wanting it in the first place.
Before I get lost in my daydreams, I have one more spiritual step: surrender. This is so important, because I don’t have a lot of control here. I don’t know the time or the place I’m going to meet this great dude so I have to surrender the outcome. My work, or what I can control, is to be open, make friends with my desire, and then get out there and have fun dating! My friend reminded me recently that dating is supposed to be fun. I meannn, if all else fails, I can at least look cute, eat food, and flirt a little. The rest is up to a power greater than myself to work it all out, and I believe everything will come at the perfect time. In the meantime, I embrace the space in me that desire has created.