I have to admit; I came at this blog a little sideways.
When I took my first turn at online dating 4 years ago it was overwhelming. The apps, the profiles, the people, the pictures, the emotions, the time it took, the experiences it got me into, and the stories that came out of them. It was a lot. A lot of what, I wasn’t sure. Just a lot. Over time I got better at it, and I learned a bit about how the system worked. How to identify warning signs, how to manage my own expectations, how to handle first meetings and lack of connection, etc. I wasn’t an expert at it by any means, but I didn’t feel like an exhausted crazy person anymore either. Then I met someone and it didn’t matter anymore, that brief period of social insanity was over for me.
3 years later I was staring down the barrel of doing it all over again, and I decided that this time I was going to do it differently. I wasn’t in the hurry that I was the first time. During my relationship and it’s ending I had learned a lot about who I was, what I wanted, and what I actually needed (two very different things). I am someone who is a perfectly happy whole person with or without a partner. I want to be with someone who I want and who wants me, but I don’t need to be with anyone. Those were some huge realizations for me, and have really shaped my journey going forward.
No, this has not made me a perfect dater. As you will learn reading my posts I still make mistakes, still get excited when I shouldn’t, jump in too fast, have a hard time letting go, and get attracted to or involved with the wrong people. I’m still learning, and I think I always will be. Not only will I continue to grow and change over time, but so will the system, and I will have to learn and grow with it. That’s just life, we can’t really expect dating to be any different.
The most important thing I learned between my first and second round of dating was the importance of self-management. Of course I wore myself out meeting people, expending energy and emotion on them, and then trying to heal when that didn’t work out. That was to be expected. But I also found out I was wearing my friends and family out with the constant stories, need for emotional support, and impossibility of keeping up with who was in my life at the moment. Having funny dating stories is great, but when it’s all you have it gets old. Fast.
Before I went back to dating I knew I was going to need an outlet for all that stuff, so I revisited some tool chests I hadn’t opened in decades. I picked up some new hobbies to help spread my interests, starting exercising more so that the physical side effects of the emotional stress would be lessened, and rediscovered my lost love of writing.
When I was a teen I went through some trauma that resulted in some counselling, and through that process I was introduced to writing as a therapeutic tool. I loved it, and I used to journal daily. This was before you could do it electronically, when it meant constantly packing around pens and notebooks. I would write about my feelings, things going on around me, problems I was having at home or in school, or even TV shows I was watching. It didn’t matter to me what the topic was, I just needed somewhere to get my thoughts out that wouldn’t leave me feeling judged. Somewhere I could just be me.
Writing for me now is different than it was then. I’m no longer in the teenage angst part of my life, I don’t particularly care if someone feels the need to judge me. I know who I am and I am happy with me. Writing is still a way for me to clarify my feelings, to work through my thought processes from start to finish, and to manage and deal with my emotions on my own. Now, without the safety net of needing it all to be private, there’s the possibility that my writing might also be a way I can help someone else.
As I have gotten older I’ve realized that I have a strong nurturing streak. This was present even before I became a parent. I’ve always been drawn to people who need a little (or a lot of) help, and have often worn myself out trying to give it. Finding the balance between giving enough to feel fulfilled but not so much that I become drained is something that I am still working on. Because of my need to help I have become quite good at identifying the things that friends and family are having problems with. Not because I am a professional in any way, but because I’ve learned to become a good listener, and through listening have learned to pull the real issues out of the flow of words. I’m still better at doing this with others than I am at doing it with myself, but I’m working on that too. Which brings us here.
This blog isn’t about making money, getting famous, starting a cause, running a business, or any type of formal education system. It will be entertaining at times and introspective at others, but most of all it is designed to be helpful. To me in dealing with my thoughts and emotions while on this round of online dating, and to anyone currently going through the same journey, considering the journey, or just wanting proof that wherever the other side of the fence might be to them the grass isn’t always greener. It is anonymous not because of any fear of judgement on my part, but because the people in my life now and the ones who I will be writing about later have not made that same choice to put themselves out there. I respect their right to privacy just as they respect my right to express myself.
Thank you for reading, and I hope you get as much out of the ride as I will.
The Happy Traveler