When you’re engaging in a certain behavior, it often seems normal because it’s all you know. It’s hard to understand that what you’re doing might be unhealthy or problematic in some way. That was certainly the case for me, and it took me a long time to come to terms with what I was doing wrong.
I thought what I was doing wasn’t a big deal. I guess I didn’t think I had a reference point; I wasn’t really paying attention to what other people were doing. If I was, I was just comparing myself to them rather than looking constructively at what I was doing. I also have a skewed view of what’s normal as a result of my past and my upbringing, so my judgment isn’t always quite right.
I was spending hours a day on dating apps. One of the sure-fire signs that I was a hot mess was that I was literally spending 3-4 hours a day on dating apps. They consumed my every waking moment. I was constantly thinking about them and aching to get the hit off that next swipe, match, or message. I used it as my only form of validation, pulling my worth from other people.
I was going on a ridiculous amount of dates. I went on over 60 first dates in one year. It was total madness and completely unnecessary. I literally didn’t see anything wrong with going on dates with four separate people in one week sometimes. In hindsight, how freaking exhausting is that?! Plus it’s just kind of weird. I didn’t give myself any time to process how I was feeling. Instead, it was rapid-fire dating.
I was sleeping with people quickly. I was jumping right into bed with a lot of people. This may be a good tactic for some but for me, it only spelled out disaster. I wasn’t even taking the time to get to know people because sex came so quickly. I had almost no self-control and had a hard time saying no. I thought I was just at a point in my life where I was wild and free, but really I was messy and sad.
I was sleeping with people I didn’t want to sleep with. This was one of the weird things about being out of control. I’d find myself sleeping with someone I wasn’t even attracted to or that I just didn’t want to be sleeping with. I’d do this to people please or to try to get outside of myself.
One time, I didn’t practice safe sex. I’m pretty ashamed of the time that I didn’t use a condom. We got caught up in the moment and I acted irresponsibly. Fortunately I didn’t make it a habit, but still, I think this happening at all was another indicator that my sex and love life was unmanageable.
I was obsessive about my dates. When I met someone, I would fantasize about our future together. I’d project, thinking about what a long-term relationship would look like with this person on date one. I know that many people do this to some extent, but the way I went about it was obsessive and completely took me out of the present moment. It also made me idealize them, turning them into people to fawn over when in reality they were strangers.
I kept getting told I was too intense. This is something I was told several times, that I’m too intense and that I liked the other person more than they liked me. This obviously isn’t a helpful way to be dating, but I thought that my intensity was a good thing. I didn’t realize that in reality, I just had crappy boundaries and overshared. I’m trying to pay more attention to my intensity now and see where it’s coming from.
Turns out, I had some serious issues going on. All of this stuff on its own may not be a huge deal but cumulatively, it all was super problematic. I came to realize that I’m a sex and love addict with a variety of other issues like codependency and lack of coping skills. I actually feel sad for this part of me because the way that I was living was quite painful.
Now I see what’s really normal, or at least healthy. Bit by bit, I’m learning about ways I can tweak my life to be healthier. I’m seeing the patterns for what they are: not helpful. I’m trying to make new patterns of behavior, which is a very slow learning process. I’m taking an actual break from dating and when I do date again, I’m going to be much more intentional about the whole process.
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