Beating the Singleness Blues

I know! I know! Daily posts! You’re all going to be spoiled. It’s sort of my New Year’s resolution, that I’ve started on early, to have something for you every day of the week. Today I intend to keep it light and short.

After reading some of my friends’ comments on Monday’s post (which they left on it via facebook), I thought about how annoying I would’ve found a list like that when I felt trapped in singleness. I would’ve rolled my eyes at the idea that such advice was “helpful.” I still don’t know if I even believe in step-by-step instructions like those I gave. Primarily, my purpose was to convey principles and bits of wisdom that can’t guarantee you’ll find someone worth sticking with but might at least help you feel less stuck.The gist of my advice (Try!) is something I’ve had to take to heart myself.

Throughout this last year, that bit of advice has helped both my friend Lucy and I. Neither of us had dated until this year and we’d both felt a little trapped in singleness. In different ways, we both came to the conclusion that we needed to follow that simple maxim. For me, “trying” has sort of naturally resulted from a combination of things: losing weight, consistently looking nice, putting men through less shit tests early on, getting more comfortable giving men indicators of interest, toning down my intelligence and seriousness while simultaneous ramping up my absurdity and playfulness, and being more consistently outgoing. Some of these things I didn’t really do intentionally to start dating, still they’ve played a role in altering my circumstances. I’m still not dating tons, but that’s primarily because I’m choosy. Lucy’s story has been a little different. She has been much more intentional about trying.

Last year, after a long conversation about guys with her older sister, her sister decided that she needed a little help. She set up some online dating profiles for Lucy, gave her some dating coaching and then went through her closet. She took away all of her hoodies and men’s t-shirts. After that, she had Lucy try on all of her other clothes one by one. If a color looked bad on her, or a shape didn’t flatter her, that item of clothing went into the donation pile. Having rooted out her bad clothes, she kindly let Lucy go through her own wardrobe and she gave her some clothes that looked better on her. To complete the makeover, she taught Lucy more about makeup and convinced her to come up with a basic, daily makeup routine.

Lucy found all of her sister’s attention and guidance instructive and encouraging. Over the last year, she’s gone on more dates than she had in the previous six. Of course, most of her dates have resulted from her online profiles. Through this process, she’s become more confident that she’s date-able. While she’s always been a pretty flirtatious person, she never really took it seriously. The more she’s been dating, the better she’s gotten at discerning sincere but playful interest from platonic flirting. She’s still not in a serious relationship but finally she doesn’t feel trapped.

Lucy and I have a theory that believing you’re date-able is the base foundation for attracting interest and getting dates. Maybe we have it easier because we’re women. But, besides bad breath, teeth or hygiene, the most common reason women give for finding a guy initially unattractive is that he comes off as insecure or unconfident (which he may be conveying by being too shy to make eye contact or constantly seeking validation). I’d like the good guys out there to realize they have more of a chance then they think, just as we had to stretch our comfort zones a little and put in some effort, so do men.

If you’re feeling the singleness blues, and no-amount of effort is helping, I’ve found an amusing article to help brighten your day: 10 Ways to Dodge Questions About Singleness This Christmas. While most of these have the potential to make your holiday gatherings even more awkward, they would certainly be entertaining. My favorite being the suggestion to respond to the question of why you aren’t dating by “Conjur[ing] up a few fake tears, then look[ing] up quickly with a shout, ‘How long, O Lord!’” Another winner is “Pull a Mother Teresa: ‘The poor children at the shelter need me too much to spend time dating.’”

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