John wrote this post while I was away for the holidays. He was messaging me daily and we both agreed online dating was getting old.
Column 26 – Don’t Forget to Use Your Breaks
(I used this column to say “focus on where you’re at”.
I also used it to disparage the dating sites a little. They can be frustrating, and I wanted to tell people if the sites are annoying then the best thing to do is leave them alone for a minute.
About the time I wrote this one, I texted Loretta to get her thoughts on the sites. She said they didn’t feel ‘organic’ to her, and that she was done with them.
I said I agreed and was going to take a break from them myself – saying it would probably be months before I got back online).
Something I’ve come to know about myself is I can be stubborn at times.
One sunny morning a number of years back I decided to take my motorcycle to the shop for a new set of tires. I was a contractor at the time and was dressed for working outside – it promised to be a hot day so I was wearing shorts and a tee-shirt.
Not the ideal garb for riding but I justified that by telling myself that the shop was just a mile or two away, and I’d be okay riding that distance without proper gear.
I got onto the road and found it was such a beautiful day that I thought, what the heck, I’ll take a quick ride up to the lake. After all it was so nice out and the lake was only a few miles beyond the shop, what harm could it do?
The ride to the lake was fun – with the warm wind washing over me all the way there. When I got to the water I turned the bike around and headed back.
Not being dressed for the ride wasn’t the only strike against me that day. Earlier in the week I’d received some bad news from my wife – seems that our struggle to save our failing marriage was overcoming her.
She told me she was done, and we we’re done.
It’s not a good idea to do something that requires concentration when you’ve got other things on your mind.
On the way back to town from the lake I raced into what I had forgotten was a very sharp corner. It quickly became clear that my speed was too high. I leaned the bike over as far as I could in an attempt to stay in the turn but it was no use, I was simply going too fast.
As the bike and I left the road on the far side of the curve I hit a dirt embankment, which bounced me and the bike back onto the road, still at a pretty good rate of speed. Problem was, the bike and I were no longer a pair, and when we hit the pavement again we both rolled and tumbled end over end before sliding to a stop.
My first thoughts were for my bike – I looked over and assessed the damage – bad, but not too bad.
Then I assessed my damage – about the same. I was bleeding from six or eight places, but there didn’t seem to be anything broken and I could still walk. I picked the bike up and rolled it over to the side of the road.
That was a Tuesday – on the following Thursday I was supposed to ride my motorcycle down the coast with a buddy to play in a soccer tournament. Not having the good sense to know that had now become a bad idea, I decided to keep my commitment. I put my bike back together, patched myself up, and rode the hundred or so miles to the tournament.
I was feeling rather invincible – having ridden down the coast despite the blood and the pain – when, in the first game of the tournament, a ref pulled me aside. She asked me what the hell I thought I was doing playing soccer when she could clearly see that, despite the bandaging, blood was still leaking out.
She informed me I was out of the tournament.
Sometimes life attempts to show us that we’re trying too hard, that it’s time to take a break and nurse our wounds.
It can be like that on the dating sites as well. When we get on a dating site the need to keep at it can overtake us. We tell ourselves that we can’t stop and take a break because we might miss someone who’s perfect for us.
We also tell ourselves we can’t break off communications with the people we’ve been trading messages with, because we’ve already got time invested in those nascent connections.
But sometimes what we need to do is stop for a minute, take a step back, and evaluate where we really are in our process.
I’ve had many women tell me they’ve become weary of the sites. That it seems to be the same thing over and over, that the connections they create online keep playing out in the same way. A guy will email a woman, or she him, and they’ll meet only to find out there’s no real connection at all. It can be very disheartening to get one’s hopes up only to be disappointed.
Now I’ve said many times that the dating sites offer us a way to meet lots people we’d otherwise never have the opportunity to get to know. But it’s also true that dating sites can cause you to grow weary of going through the motions over and over of trying to find that special someone.
When that occurs, when you tire of a string of missed connections, a funny thing can happen – you can start lowering your standards. You compromise on your criteria and your list of ‘deal breakers’. And you can end up forcing the process by going on dates you know deep down have no real chance of leading anywhere.
When you should be slowing down you instead speed up.
So here’s my advice: If you’re finding yourself worn down by the dating sites and their challenges, if you’re starting to feel like they’ve become a grind, stop. Take a break. Give yourself time off to pursue other areas of your life. There’s a lot to be said for simplifying, and focusing on oneself.
Personally I find that when life gets complicated, and starts getting away from me, if I spend time cleaning out the clutter and throwing things away, I come to feel back in control.
So if the sites are complicating your life, throw them away for a while. Take down your profile and spend the time you would have been trading emails and looking at profile pictures instead doing something nice for yourself. Read those books you’ve been meaning to. Do things with the kids.
Simplify your life.
The dating sites will always be there, just like my future soccer games will always be there. Don’t allow the fear of missing out on something keep you in a behavior that, for now, may not be healthy for you.
Bind your wounds and rest up for another day.
By John P. Gavin