Single in the City is a reoccurring column on Philly Happening that will appear on Wednesdays. It chronicles a single thirty-something, new to the Philadelphia, searching for friendship, love, and her place in this vibrant city.
Making the Choice to Take Charge of your Dating Life.
There comes a time in every single person’s life when they ask themselves, “to go online, or not to go online?”
This question was one that came up time and time again for me last year.
First let me set the stage:
Last year, my ex and I could never seem to cut ties. This relationship danced in a dangerously grey zone, until the toxicity reached a head, and I finally had the courage and conviction to break it off for good.
Once officially unattached, other attempts at relationships inevitably followed, but none of them added up to much more than heartache and ridiculous tales that made good fodder for happy hour conversation with friends.
Sure, I tried to meet men organically throughout the year. In fact, I created a whole systematic series of “phases” to reinject myself into the dating scene. This concept was meticulously mapped out during long, lazy days of summer spent poolside with friends, sipping white wine from plastic wine tumblers under the mid-day sun.
The phases are worth going into more detail about later, but for now, the point is that they weren’t delivering results.
After scouting out potential suitors at bars during the summer, my friend, an expert date-finder and wing-woman, threw her arms up into the air in exasperation and declared, “Well, it looks like you’re going to have to go online!”
I felt discouraged by this statement, and was reluctant to take that step, so for months, I did nothing. I decided to live my life and just see what happened. Given that my life is pretty great, this wasn’t a bad thing, but if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’re always gotten. In this case, I’d get either nothing, or more humorous dating stories to add to my rapidly growing anthology.
Then the ground started to shift.
One day, a friend of mine compared dating to job searching.
“What do you do when you want to get a new job?,” he asked. “Do you sit at home and wait for the phone to ring, or do you post your resume online, apply to jobs that you want, and make an effort?”
The same goes for dating. With anything in life, you can’t wait for the opportunity to come to you, you have to create the opportunity.
Then I remembered a conversation that I had had with one of the guys who made it onto my list of funny dating stories. It was Easter-Eve and I was describing my past relationships to him over a couple of glasses of lukewarm Pinot Grigio. He tilted his head to the side, as is always done before something profound is uttered, and he said, “You make it sound like all these things just happen to you, like you have no control.”
This was an “a-ha” moment if there ever was one. Despite eventually making it onto my do-not-call list, I give this guy credit for being so astute.
I started thinking back on all my past relationships. In the beginning of most of them, I had played a very passive role. I hadn’t sought anyone out, the connection just happened. I was the true definition of passive: not actively participating, being the object of action rather than creating action.
This was the problem.
Instead of controlling my own destiny and taking responsibility for who I talked to and who I dated, I was just letting life play out. In a bygone era, this strategy might have been the only one, but today, there are so many online dating sites and apps that allow you to play a more active role in the dating world.
The other thing is that even though I at times used the excuse about not being ready to go online, the truth is that you’re never ready for something until you do it. Clarity comes with engagement and motivation comes from doing. If I waited until I was “ready” to go online, then I’d never be ready.
My new attitude for 2016 is that if you want something, take responsibility and go get it, and don’t be afraid of what you want.
So I took the leap.
On New Year’s Day, I downloaded some dating apps on my phone. Let’s just say that what happened next is material for many more columns to come and inspires this piece of advice:
You never know what can happen, until you try. If you have the courage to take a risk, you will be rewarded, even if it’s just knowing that you tried. But if you don’t try, you might miss out on meeting someone who is beyond any expectation that you’ve ever had.