“I’ve been dating since I was fifteen! I’m exhausted! Where is he?”
– Charlotte, Sex and the City
Ever since I was a little girl, I had imagined myself married with at least one child by now. This is definitely not my reality. Although my parents chose to have me a little later in life, they married in their twenties. My twenties were spent being optimistically cautious through college while dating a cornucopia of guys who were totally wrong for me.
Back then, finding a guy to date was the easiest thing I did. What I didn’t understand was that in order to accomplish the ultimate goal of this dating party, I needed to find someone who was actually compatible with me. At the time, I think I was just looking for someone attractive to be my date for sorority functions. But time and time again, I found that their attractiveness didn’t get them very far. I would fixate on someone and then convince myself that we should be together. Then, when their third eye would appear, I put on my track shoes and bolted for the door.
It wasn’t until my thirties that I began to see I was doing this all wrong. I was laid off from MCI WorldCom, had split from ex-fiancé number 4, and was about to move to Charlotte for the first job opportunity in my field that had come up since the layoffs. The night before my big move, I was out with my friends celebrating and met someone. We dated 3.5 years even though we lived in different cities for at least a year and a half. I was crazy about him. He was charming and handsome, but he never actually saw me. As a result of being charming and handsome, he never saw anyone else for anything more than their outward appearance. When I moved home, he started to become more dominant. We fought a lot. The relationship revolved around what he wanted. He started belittling me to make himself feel larger. I ended it, thinking I’d get better results. I thought that if he lost me, he’d appreciate me more. Instead, he used the opportunity to start dating other women. A few days after our split, I ran into him… on a date. I was crushed, but eventually got over it.
At that point, the general atmosphere of dating shifted. People were dating online . This added instant gratification to the act of dating. People started not to appreciate one another. Everyone was replaceable. Pictures held a higher importance than text. No one cared what was on the inside if all your angles were flattering. Everything was superficial.
I spent years getting lost in the online dating quagmire. Then I did the best thing I could possibly have done for myself. I adopted a dog.
In this digital age, where we all swipe right to get what we want, unconditional love is a precious commodity. When you adopt a dog, you gain what most dating relationships lack. Respect, comfort and unconditional love. When I adopted Quincy, my focus shifted more toward taking care of myself, him, my parents, and my house. I didn’t need to be with anyone. I was fine all by myself. I found myself turning down dates and other social events based on this scale: If I would rather be home with my dog, my RSVP is No.
Quincy gave me back everything I’d wasted on the guys who didn’t deserve me. He’s always there for me. He makes me laugh. And he’s far and away the best at snuggling. Instead of focusing on the next guy to come along, I put my effort into my friendships, my house and my hobbies. I decided that if I were to spend another minute with a guy, he needed to add to my life, not complicate it or hold me back.
So my advice is this:
If you’re single and frustrated because so far dating has shown you all of what you don’t want and none of what you do… adopt a pet. It will change your perspective in brilliant ways. Treasure your alone time, because if you don’t like spending time with yourself, no one else will either.