Dating is a little bit like getting food poisoning…
Hear me out, I’m not crazy I swear. Have you ever been through some good ol food poisoning? And I don’t mean the kind of food poisoning that comes into the picture when you don’t want to go to work so you call and tell your boss you are “so sick, ughh food poisoning… you don’t wanna know the details…”
Nope I’m talking about that time that you went out for sushi, minding your own business, eating an obscene amount of all you can eat sashimi… only to get home and be seated on the cool tile floor of your bathroom for the next 24 to 48 hours clinging on for dear life and sucking down some pedialyte like your life depended on it. If you’ve experienced THAT in your life, then you know a little about what it is like to be single and dating for more than one set of dating experiences.
Funny story, when I was first interviewing for the job that I now have and love, there was a period of time in which I didn’t hear back in between interviews that was longer than usual (although now that I look back maybe wasn’t unusual for my company considering my application process took about 6 months…). I knew that they had gone on a company trip to Costa Rica but they had been back for well over a week. I was nervously pacing my office waiting with bated breath for Hannah and “Jose” (so sorry Joel) to email me back and tell me anything even if just to tell me my jokes about margaritas weren’t as funny as I thought they were… Only to find out, that the reason for the major delay was a undetermined bug/food poisoning that took out the entire team in an epic way after some random Indian food in Costa Rica… I know I know… questionable choices all around….They were definitely out of commission and rehoming the contents of their stomachs collectively and on international flights. Stories I’ve continued to be regaled with even 2 years later.
Now if your first time out in the dating world you met the dream girl or sweetheart boy of your dreams, loved and married them like some sorta sick hallmark psychopaths… then maybe you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say that dating can be like food poisoning. I mean you went to the nicest seafood joint and married the chef who now cooks all you can eat shrimp for you everyday? Yah you don’t understand the pain….
But for the rest of us suckers who are out there, I swear, dating can be a lot like getting food poisoning.
There I was enjoying life, eating at my favorite sushi spot, laughing with friends, doing the happy food dance I can’t even stop doing- so glad to have made the decision to get sushi on a Sunday night…. Only to be betrayed by SUSHI GONE ROGUE…. And a Monday morning of calling in sick and having to figure out how to act like the very smell of the coworkers microwaved clam chowder on Wednesday doesn’t make me instantly nauseated… It definitely would be a hot minute before I would be ready to circle back to another sushi night. And when I do eventually venture back out it will likely not be at that sushi spot or it’ll be cooked sushi rolls only. Not living dangerously anymore…..
Starting over in dating feels alot like that. Most of us have the best of intentions and dive into dating head first- lots of adventure, excitement, and laughter. Then it happens. It ends. It could be after just a couple dates (like most of my stories) or maybe you are more like alot of my friends and you are facing the end of a long relationship with a lot of love lost. The reasons it didn’t work out don’t always matter at that point. The fact that something you loved and cherished had the capacity to leave you reeling. It becomes really easy at that point to start to pick apart every part of the meal/date/relationship to figure out where in the world you had made the decision and let the sketchy food or person that brought pain into the picture.
A little dramatic? Sure but a little drama is fun 😉
In reality, I think in my life this has looked like coming back from some of my disaster dates (and also the good ones that walk away from me at the end) and have a bit of a feeling of regret. If only I had had a salad instead of sashimi, if only I had picked up the extra shift instead of going on that date, if only I had seen my worth in the moments that guy made me feel unworthy.
But what happens next?
Well when you have a bad experience, whether small or big, it can make ya a little gun shy to go back. Dating is no different in that area, at least for me. I remember coming back from a really crappy date and being like, well i’m proud of myself for that- held conversation well, was genuinely nice and curious about him, I wasn’t awkward, I was open- even if it didn’t go the way i’d hoped. Only for him to cuss me out and call me a serial dater the next day when I said no to a second date and promptly tell me I owed him for my half. THAT was the point the food poisoning kicked in. Honestly it took me a couple years after that to allow a guy to pay for me on a date because I felt the repercussions if it didn’t work out would leave me clinging to the proverbial toilet.
But sometimes its not so simple as a guy who told you you owed him after dinner. In fact I’d say its almost never that. No, most often its the feeling of being “hope sick” that sends us reeling and makes starting over so difficult. When you put yourself out there, when you hoped and believed for good things and to see the reality of some of those things that you’ve hoped or prayed for. You found a guy who you saw such potential in until he twisted you and made you feel unworthy and degraded you. You came off a string of really crappy relationships, start to date an amazing girl- and she walks away. You spent a heck of a long time swiping through dating apps to find a guy you actually like and see potential with and then a few dates in he ghosts you (twice). Hope sick.
Hope deferred makes a heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life- Proverbs 13:12
In the last several months I’ve had several close friends who have ended and/or started new relationships. The conversations surrounding the idea of putting yourself back out there are the same- whether it was a good relationship with someone that just wasn’t a good fit, a toxic narcissist ex that took the worth you’d fought so hard for, or a situationship that left your head spinning.
It feels pretty scary.
The most common thing I’d hear is “I don’t know how you keep on doing it Desiree”. And truthfully, I don’t always “keep on doing it”. Dating is vulnerable, hopeful, and opens you up to a world of possibility and of hurt. And sometimes I chicken out. I still remember being in DC on the first leg of my east coast journey and I had actually set my dating profiles as being in DC because I was feeling super confident that I could get there and have the dates lined up and have a grand ol time. One guy I had talked with on the phone for a couple hours while en route to DC and I was actually looking forward to meeting up originally- not something often true of my dating excursions….
But as the day drew closer my nerves amped up and this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach won out. And spoiler alert- I went on NO dates in DC. But I also blame that on recovering from depression and a really difficult few months of life. I felt bad for a while that I had tried to date these different guys and backed out before getting to a date. But I realized ultimately sometimes I’m not always up for pressing through and “keep on doing it”. Sometimes food poisoning wins.
Now here’s the thing though, life is too short to stop eating sushi. Now if you are eating sushi in a back alley from your random cousin’s friend Bob then maybe rethink eating sushi THERE. Maybe upgrade your sushi game a little. And if you are still having a hard time thinking of going out to eat sushi again- find a friend who loves sushi and let them hype it up till you are ready. And in dating? Find some solid community around you that:
#1 will always be in your corner and cheering you on towards good things
#2 are mirror images of the things you hope to have- Happy marriages, successful singles, brave men and women who are living out their worth
#3 Will love you, pray with you, and hold back your proverbial hair if it goes south and doesn’t work out again.
#4 that have both real and figurative good taste in sushi so you can have a great experience
Starting over is never going to be easy- especially if you are a person who lives live embracing hope.