After breaking up with the person I thought was my person — he didn’t want kids but I realized I do — I threw myself back into the dating pool headfirst. I wasted no time at all, immediately going on two to three dates a week with most of the guys who were willing to go out with me.
At times I swiped so much I lost the feeling in my fingers. The dates weren’t all bad. They were mostly so-so. Though there was that one guy who was still living with his ex-girlfriend. And another who didn’t believe in racism. A third trauma dumped on me on the first date, telling me incredibly personal (and troubling) details of his upbringing.
Still, going on dates gave me a sense of purpose in a time when I felt purposeless. Desperate not to be alone, dating became my biggest hobby and singular pastime; it was like a second job of sorts. I accepted dates with almost anyone, convincing myself that giving people chances was a good thing, even when I wasn’t attracted to them. Through date after date, I became more and more disheartened, leading myself to a dark, depressing place.
With each date, I began to heavily question my self worth: Am I broken? Am I not good enough for a partner? What the hell is wrong with me? With each swipe, I felt worse and worse about myself. The shame was twofold: Increasingly I also felt bad about feeling bad about myself for being single. I became cynical and withdrawn. At times I blamed myself and my childhood trauma for rendering me unlovable.
After 150 first dates—yes, I actually went on 150 first dates!—I realized I was knee deep in dating app burnout, a phenomenon I realized I wasn’t alone in experiencing. I grew sick and tired of having the same basic convos over and over again: Where do you live? What do you do for fun? Where are you traveling to this year? Beyond this, I often found I was the main person asking the questions, and although I love a good interview, this felt one sided and exhausting after a while.
So I decided to take a chance on something that felt unfamiliar and different. After years of therapy and trying different antidepressants, I signed up for ketamine therapy through a program called Mindbloom. It felt like a last resort. Though the process was slow—it took a few sessions to feel something—I started to experience some relief. I noticed myself being kinder to myself. I was able to embrace more positive self-talk and keep myself from going down a negative path. Being single didn’t feel so bad anymore. It just was. I accepted that my journey is my journey, and began to show myself more compassion.
Along the way, I learned how to slow down and be more intentional. I deleted all but one dating app, and made a commitment to myself that I’d take a break from swiping whenever I found myself feeling frustrated. And I decided that whenever I don’t have dates lined up, I use that time to do other things. This, in turn, has made me feel like I have more control over my life. Though at times I still wish I had found my person already, I feel more fulfilled now. Ultimately I’ve learned that no matter how alone you might feel, dating more isn’t always the right answer.
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