Dating-Donts-Choose-To-Be-Alone-400x300Here’s what’s easy:

Sitting in your apartment, doing things that you like to do, justifying this behavior by saying that because it is what you want to do, it is absolutely correct. Rejecting new experiences because they could fail, because you could embarrass yourself or fall on your face or loose a tooth or a shred of dignity. Staying in a rut because it’s comfortable, it feels right, and it’s easier than putting on that pair of pants or wearing those new shoes or doing anything other than the path you picked out for yourself as the only way for you.

Dating is not fun. It’s not easy. If someone came up to me and told me in earnest that scrolling thru the depths ofOKCupid is a fulfilling and mentally engaging activity, I’d gather my things and back away slowly. It feels like work because it is work. Scrolling through matches taps into the muscle memory of the aimless looking for shoes on Zappos or searching your work email for that thing you got last week that you just can’t find. Scroll, scroll, scroll. Click? Scroll. Repeat ad nauseam until you find something that you think might work, with some jiggering, a little tailoring, a tiny nip and tuck. Add to your cart, finish your wine, close your laptop, go to sleep.

Dating is a choice that we make, just like the choice to be alone, to have cereal for dinner, to finally pull the trigger on that Amazon cart you’ve been toying with for the past week. Trumping up its importance will only intimidate you further. In order to succeed at dating, you need to be all in, and it has to be genuine. I’m not advocating for enthusiasm; to be extremely enthusiastic about online dating is tantamount to insanity. A resigned acceptance of the activity you’re embarking upon is sufficient, but the desire to succeed is essential. Opening yourself up to being vulnerable, to new experiences, to exposing your dark little heart tot he light  will not be easy. If your heart is clenched tight against the new and the unfamiliar, the process of unfurling will be slower. Accept these changes as small necessities, and take baby steps towards making these your reality.

Here are some things that are hard:

Putting on a dress on a Tuesday and steeling yourself to drink a beer very slowly as you listen to a stranger in a dark bar show you a sliver of their heart. Letting down your guard for long enough to let somebody else in. Making the first move. Shutting down the part of your mind that judges someone by the dad jeans they wore on the first date, and filing that info away for a charming story to tell your potential grandkids. Opening up yourself to experiences knowing that they are only experiences, neither good nor bad, just things that happen that you will deal with.

The fact of the matter is, dating is fucking terrifying. Entering a relationship is a journey into the heart of the unkonwn, a choose-your-own-adventure freefall where the landing is soft and pleasant, or a disastrous plunge into a shark tank. It’s perfectly natural to be wary of this endeavor because nothing is ever certain. No one knows for sure if they’ll like anything. The human experience is centered around the unknown. At any time you could be struck down my a car, hit by a bus, or drop dead at your desk, salad fork still in hand. The inevitability of these horror-filled scenarios are the outliers, but the fact that there is a remote possibility of these things happening serves as gentle reminder of the unpredictability of life. Open yourself up to new experiences. Be willing to try something you don’t think you like, because you just don’t know.

You can choose to be alone, or you can choose do date, but success at both dictates that you pick one or the other.  If dating starts to feel like something you “should” be doing, stop where you are and revisit the sentiment when you feel ready. We should take out the trash, we should pay that bill, we should stop consulting Yahoo!Answers to investigate that weird bump on our arm that we hasn’t gone away. Things we should do are never the things we want to do, or that we are naturally inclined to do. Dating is not an obligation, it’s a choice. We choose to date, just as we choose to be alone. Make your choice and be resolute and patient.


The Frisky

This post originally appeared on The Frisky. Republished with permission.

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