I Suck At Dating But I’m Still Convinced I’ll Eventually Find Love

I’ve discovered more innovative ways to screw up my love life than anyone I know. (Seriously, I deserve a trophy for my commitment to idiocy in relationships.) Despite my spotty history, though, I’m still determined to find lasting happiness. Here’s why I remain hopeful about my prospects:

  1. Most successful people fail repeatedly before achieving their goals — relationships are no exception. If you want to improve at something, you have to be willing to suck at it first. We accept this logic easily when it comes to pursuits like sports glory or professional brilliance. I believe that the same truth applies to relationships. The difference between making progress and getting into a slump is a simple matter of perspective. I don’t see my past struggles as evidence that I’ll never have the relationship I want, I see them as data to learn from. I have faith in myself to fix my mistakes. I figure the 50th time will be the charm — and if not the 50th, the 51st.
  2. The dating scene is such a mess, most millennials feel lost sometimes. I actually don’t mind all the uncertainty of modern love. I’d hardly want to return to the days of marriage and kids expected by 22. The trade-off for our increased freedom is less structure: it’s impossible to know what to expect in a partnership. As a society, we’re going through major cultural growing pains. My personal life is swept up in these currents and I know how to go with the flow.
  3. Stressing about it is useless. I allow myself to acknowledge my anxieties but I don’t use them as an excuse for my behavior or allow them to dictate my philosophy on life. Even though I often feel undateable, I know the status is temporary. The only thing in life and love that I can really control is my own response, so I’m not going to slide into a pit of negativity.
  4. I can’t be happy in any relationship if I’m not happy with myself. Call me a late bloomer, but it took a long, grueling trial-and-error period to help me discover my ideal career, my political attitudes, and all the other components of a fully formed person. I’m still learning every day, but now that I have a solid idea of who I am and where I’m headed, I’m better prepared to work on love.
  5. None of my former flames were truly right for me. No surprise. I was too unsettled in myself to settle down with a man. Naturally, I didn’t attract anyone who would be an ideal long-term prospect, even though, for a couple of years, I was in the kind of deep relationship that usually leads to marriage. We did love each other… ultimately enough to accept our mutual need to move on.
  6. I’ve learned to be picky in all the right ways. All through my 20s, I refused to date anyone who didn’t fit a particular career profile and appearance. Although it’s fine to have a “type,” I was seriously stuck in a superficial rut. It took me a while to figure out what qualities in these guys (beyond their line of work and their physical attributes) so attracted me, but when I finally did, I realized that I could continue to be super discerning about the important characteristics–great conversational skills, wry humor, independence — and stop worrying about things like job title or haircut.
  7. I’m great at being alone. The best part of my obstacle-strewn quest for love is how much it’s developed my self-reliance. Another stretch of solo Saturday nights is just an opportunity to immerse myself in a book, try a new recipe, or work on my novel. Of course I get lonely — an overdose of solitude isn’t healthy, but knowing how to keep myself company is a damn good skill to have.
  8. I’ve developed a killer sense of humor. When you fall on your ass, the most graceful response is to laugh and acknowledge your clumsiness. I enjoy a good comedy, full of slapstick and cringe-worthy plot lines. How fortunate that my own life often supplies all the material I need.
  9. I’ve never been intentionally cruel. For all my misadventures in the romance department, I’ve never done anything unpardonable. I’m always honest (sometimes to a fault) and I’ve never stayed with a dude because I needed a body to keep me warm. I’ve always done the big things right — being sincere and upfront — so I’m gentle with myself about any questionable choices in my relationships past.
  10. There are benefits to all my uncertainty in love. I’m impressed with women my age who have already been married for a decade and have two adorable kids, but I happen to enjoy exploring different paths. I’ll never grow old wondering what it would be like to briefly date an Olympic athlete or have a great night of conversation and cuddling with a mysterious philosopher. With mistakes like those, I can’t really complain.
  11. I finally know that I do hope to find my soulmate. Maybe it’s because romance is so baffling, but I’ve only recently realized how much I want to find my match. I’m undecided on marriage and I definitely don’t want children of my own but I’m absolutely searching for an amazing relationship.
  12. Happiness has no age limit.  At 31, I laugh whenever some 20-something whippersnapper starts freaking out about turning 30 without a hubby at her side. I’m on the older side of single, but hell, I would rather meet “The One” at 50 than spend decades clinging to an unsatisfying relationship. Each romantic misstep teaches me something new. I’m only improving as I age. I’d like to imagine my future Mr. Right is out there somewhere doing the same.
Jackie Dever is a freelance writer and editor in Southern California. When she's not working, she enjoys hiking, reading, and sampling craft beers.