You think you want to date more.
You think you should be having sex more.
You think that having someone to message on the regular will help you?
And hell if you don’t have that then you might as well get a plane ticket, a new handbag, anything to signal you are living, you are connected, you are here.
Writing this in January I am besieged by an Instagram feed full of exotic destinations. Christmas was all about the luxury goods. And with February around the corner we will have the Valentine’s Day date pictures reaching peak saturation levels.
I am not saying that any of these things are inherently ‘bad’ but they sure do create a lot of cultural noise about what happiness is all about. I want to provide you with a counter commentary.
Considering that as a dating expert I help people to lead more fulfilling lives (and yes get more dates), it may seem surprising that I just don’t love these #lifegoals. Call me a cynic but in all the chroma filtered beach pictures, and humble brags about what people have (human or material), I just see escapism.
And I should know. Whilst my ‘stumble upon’ the dating industry (and before that the world of pick up artists) was accidental, my following fascination with it was anything but. To someone like me that had a life long relationship with feelings of ‘otherness’ (the quintessential weird kid at school with bookwormish tendencies and poor hand eye coordination) the lure of endless popularity, sex and dates sounded pretty great. So I studied it. I intellectualized love. I learned a lot about how to meet, flirt and charm. For a time I felt powerful. It was great.
But funnily enough the problems didn’t dissipate. My feelings of loneliness, or anxiety, confusion, outsider-ness deepened. My life wasn’t going on the trajectory I wanted, I was worried I never would be truly loved, be successful. I was critically disappointed and judgmental with myself. To escape these not-so-comfy feelings I escaped by distracting myself with increasingly convoluted and intense experiences. For me these were a kaleidoscope of the emotional, sexual, spiritual.
To you they might be:
- A love triangle (you like two people, or someone who is already in a relationship). Oh no what do you do? Whatsapp group chats are created to discuss your date, and their date.
- Pursuing someone who is perpetually cold, inconsistent, almost there, but never really there.
- Complicated sex. Feeling you should be having sex with more people. Right now. Waking up in the morning like, ‘wow that was a ride’ and then when the adrenaline dips, feeling creeping sadness. You don’t date – you have a long list of emotionally unaccountable experiences though.
- Going to extremes: travel, work, emotional manipulation, substances. Whatever it takes to get you out of here. Here being your headspace.
My solution for this is that you have to find a bottom to the situation. Not a Kardasian-esqe ass, but an end point where you realize how unsustainable that lifestyle is. Fast life is fun in the moments it lasts but in the stillness it is straight up terrifying. To get to the root of what’s going on for you, you need some you time. Time without constant momentum, friends, places, parties, dates. In this you can hear yourself clearly again.
When I stopped I heard that myself was a lot more introverted, anxious and sensitive than the super hero-esqe image I had projected into the world. I needed cuddles, security and quite a lot of hummus. I did not need a date. That was the last thing that would have been any good for me.
If you hear yourself in this blog I would just ask you to consider calling off the search: the search for some stimulation (human or otherwise) that takes you away from you. It is okay to feel lonely, shy, or inadequate. It is okay to let those feelings in, to take stock and to pause rather than cultivating a bulletproof Instagram image of who you’d like to be. Stay still, tune in and make a plan based on yourself not on a flurry of needing the next hit of excitement.
And if you are like ‘Hayley I would LOVE to have so many dates it’s a problem, I am not living a ‘fast’ life, I am lonely!’ then I can help you. But I need you to know we are not aiming for you to wind up on a beach in Tulum with ten sexy strangers (okay you can do that once as an experience but that isn’t life, that’s not your day to day). I want you to end up being able to meet people, but remembering who you are. To get to know who you are today is pretty alright, and to meet people who care for you. Who support you and let you know that your inner bookworm, clumsy self is just a-dorkable.
Sentimental blog over – if you would like to talk to me or my team we are here for you at [email protected]