When most people say their love life sucks, they say it with a disappointed or self-deprecating tone. Consider my tone matter-of-fact. It is what it is; my love life is a hot mess. I’m an imperfect human trying to find love in an imperfect world. Most days, I’m not worried about this fact. It’s all part of the process! Here’s why I’m not worried about my messy dating life.
Dating can be a ton of fun, no matter how messy it gets.
I’ve done a bunch of online dating this past year. I went on dozens of first dates with people from all walks of life. I went out with men, women, and people who identified as trans or nonbinary. I dated artists, engineers, writers, and athletes. Despite nothing working out long-term, I’ve learned so much about myself and the world along the way. I’ve gone to board game cafes and gone on dates to new areas of the city that I had never seen. There’s a lot of fun to be had in dating if I can stay away from being jaded long enough to actually enjoy each experience for what it is.
I’m incredibly self-aware.
Self-awareness is a huge gift. It means that no matter how messy my love life is, I am willing and able to see how I’m contributing to the mess. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist, said “Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.” Bringing self-awareness to a sucky love life means that I’m destined for growth and change as long as I’m willing to take a look at the truth.
My life is pretty amazing as it is.
Because my love life is pretty terrible, I have tons of time to make the rest of my life awesome. I’ve spent some time trying to date and trying to find a nice partner, but mostly I focus on living my live the best I can each day. Sure, I hope to find something lasting and meaningful, but I don’t sit around waiting for it. Instead, I wake up and I try to tackle each day as if it’s my last.
Each experience (and mistake) changes me for the better.
As behavioral scientist Steve Maraboli said,“I’m grateful for past betrayals, heartaches, and challenges… I thought they were breaking me, but they were sculpting me.” Each time my heart is shattered because of my own actions or those of someone I’ve fallen in love with, I’m shaped into a better person. Every breakthrough has been preceded by a total breakdown. Each mistake and experience I have in my imperfect love life is worth it because it’s all sculpting me.
Even though I don’t always feel this way, I’m generally happy alone.
I spent almost a decade jumping from relationship to relationship. I was a serial monogamist, always looking for the next person to “fix me.” This pattern just resulted in pain and more pain. It never ended well. Ultimately, I learned that I needed to be genuinely happy alone in order to ever find a lasting connection. I’m still in the process of learning how to be happy alone, but most days I’d say I’m doing it. Most days, I love myself enough to be alone.
Relationships are a lot of work and I don’t have to deal with it right now.
Sometimes I get down on myself about being such a hot mess around dating, relationships, and sex. I beat myself up about not being able to “do the right thing,” whatever the hell that means. But then other days I look at my friends in long-term relationships (or even in newer relationships), and I’m exhausted just watching them. There’s so much thought, compromise, and action that goes into being in a committed relationship. It’s a ton of work. My love life may be nonexistent, but at least I’m exempt from all that work with another person right now!
I do my best not to compare myself to others.
It’s so easy to look at all of the engagements on Facebook, happy couples holding hands around me, and children popping out of the joyous next-door neighbors and think that I’m really doing something wrong. I look at the string of “failed” relationships I’ve had recently and think I’m somehow less-than. Then, I quickly turn around these thoughts and think about the fact that I don’t know the whole story behind their experiences. I have my own journey and it’s a great one.
I trust the process.
As much as it may seem like spiritual hoo-hah, I have to trust the process. I can quickly get overwhelmed and down on myself about how much my love life sucks. This thinking isn’t useful. Instead, I trust that each experience is shaping me into the person I’m supposed to be. Each person along my journey teaches me a lesson; all I try to do is grow more each day.
I have much more compassion for myself and others.
John Green, one of my favorite authors, said, “I don’t know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” Because my love life hasn’t looked how I wanted it to, I’ve had to deal with a ton of disappointment and unmet expectations. I’ve had to grapple with feeling unlovable and like a failure. As a result, I have a great deal of compassion for myself and for others who are in my situation. I used to think that women who dated players were stupid and should have known better. Then, I went and fell in love with one and it hurt like hell. Now I know that dating and love is messy and imperfect and that everyone deserves compassion.
It’s going to work out for me someday.
I don’t have a fairy tale illusion that someday I’ll meet my perfect match and everything will be better. But, I’m an incredibly relational person. I’m very active in a bunch of communities, always meeting new people, and regularly growing as an imperfect human. I make new connections, platonic or otherwise, all of the time. There’s a very good chance that I will find love and someone worth my time at some point. Perhaps I will even have many more loves, but I know that this isn’t the end of my story.
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