When you’re in your late teens, dancing around the cusp of adulthood, finding a lover often seems effortless.
I remember those days. When you wanted to be single, you were single. When you wanted a partner, you went on the hunt. You donned your favourite party clothes and proceeded to the nearest watering hole. With your glittering threads, you were an unstoppable dating machine.
A few years later, you’re educated about the relationship landscape. Your approach to dating has changed a little. A little less glitter, a little more thought to your dating. But there were options. The hopeful dater still existed.
Welcome to the age of impossible. You’re no longer a young teen, with your bath smooth skin. And you’re no longer an adult living in a cosmopolitan world of opportunity.
You now crave the moments you’re allowed to leave your house. When you once ate your feelings, yet now eat for boredom. And the idea of finding someone special is long gone with your overseas holidays and pre-lockdown weight.
I want to restore some hope to the hopeless. The relationship you seek is out there and it’s very obtainable, despite our pandemic chaos. It’s less about hope and more about what you do.
Or don’t do.
It’s impossible if you’re not putting yourself out there
Are you really out there? That is the question worth pondering with sincere reflection. Are you entering the dating world? Are you letting the world know you’re ready for a relationship?
Or are you stuck in your comfort zone?
To date, you have to leave your comfort zone. The problem is that we’re confusing our comfort zone with the confines of our home. The two aren’t the same thing.
Your comfort zone isn’t a physical place you’re locked up in. Though you may use your home as your comfort zone, it’s only because you’ve place metaphorical importance on it.
Yet, not being able to leave home doesn’t mean you can’t step outside of your comfort zone. And when you put yourself out there, you’re stepping out of your singleton comfort zone.
Even if freedom and physical socialising isn’t a problem where you live, dating requires you to push your limits. You have to say uncomfortable things. You have to broach uncomfortable topics. You have to sit through uncomfortable introductions and survive small talk. You have to put yourself out there.
So how do you put yourself out there?
Easier said than done, I can hear you saying. And yes, for most people, it is. But all you need is a shift. One change to your dating attitude.
A pledge to leave your comfort zone.
Whilst I can tell you how, as everyone’s comfort zone differs, understanding your comfort zone is key. You can’t leave something that you don’t know exists. Acknowledge what holds you back, and pledge to push through it, one step at a time.
It’s impossible if you’re not letting your feelings known
There is no shame in proclaiming your single status is bothering you. That you want more for your romantic life. It’s admirable to admit this, and nothing worth feeling shameful over. Wanting more is human.
And the confidence to express your desires is quite sexy.
There’s power in putting your intentions to the universe. Say it with me, “I want a relationship.” Tell the people around you. Tell the world you’re looking for a date, and the universe will surprise you.
It’s during your declaration that you will discover who has your back in this scenario. The people who know someone right for you will appear. The people who’ve wondered wanted to ask you out will make themselves known. The energy around you will shift.
But there may be more than relationship desires you’re hiding. It might be the feelings you’re hiding for one person which is stopping your relationship pursuits. And you’re inability to articulate these feelings are holding you back.
From situation to situation, I can muster a million reasons to conceal your feelings for the person you like. I can justify your hesitation with the age-old “you have so much to lose” from telling someone you like them. But what about everything there is to gain?
The reality is that you can’t wait for the other person to make a move. Dating doesn’t work like that. Forget the fairytales, the stories of star-crossed lovers. Forget the beautiful silences that lead to magical first kisses. They don’t exist. And the people who tell you that they do, their experience is the exception to the rule.
If you like someone, you have to tell them. Or you have to accept a life of them not knowing.
It’s impossible if you’re not exhausting dating resources
‘How do you date if you stay at home?’ I asked one of my single friends that the other day. She was lamenting that her dating life was stalling despite not actually dating. ‘You can’t find a partner if you don’t meet people.’
We can become stuck on a single loop. A single loop is much like your comfort zone, in that you repeat your single behaviours in the hope it will lead you to a relationship. The loop often involves mixing in the same circle of friends and disengaging with conventional dating habits. It also involves staying close to people sharing your patterns.
So how do we break the single loop? We need to put ourselves in the dating loop. These are the behaviours that people looking for a relationship engage in. It helps them find interested people like them. It connects like-minded people.
Have you downloaded any dating apps? For example, dating apps help you break the single loop by putting dating at your fingertips. It helps you change your mentality towards dating. It helps you envisage dating as a daily occurrence. If you happened to find a date, that’s great. Yet it doesn’t have to be the goal.
There are other dating resources at your disposal, even if you’re stuck at home. Blind dates, introductions from family and friends, online speed dating and singles events are perfect to help break your habits.
It’s impossible if you’re not committed to the process
What is dating if you don’t stick to it? Finding a relationship is like achieving any other goal. It requires consistency and persistence, with the ability to push through despite the hard times. At the core, it requires your commitment to the difficult process.
I won’t bore you with motivational pep talks and goal setting assignments. There are enough educated gurus out there that can help you set goals and stick to them. But I will say this much.
If you want it enough, you will find a way to remain committed.
The barriers in your way will no longer be barriers. You will push through the uncomfortable, and you will endure the heartbreak. You will find a path that works for you and you will give it your everything.
I know, easier said than done. But if this what you want, you will stick at it.
Dating is in your control
In answer to my own question, it’s easy to land a relationship. But it’s only easy if you’re willing to accept that you’re in control of your dating fate. Whilst we have emotional and physical obstacles that restrict our everyday life, we are the masters of our destiny.
I wish there were dating gods. Cupid and his arrow controlling who comes into our life. But he lives only in mythology, along with the idea that great love falls into your lap.
You’re not the only one.
Please don’t confuse me, I’m not trying to put a silver lining on a crumby situation. But there are many people in the same position you, who you can learn from and lean on. Dating may have become tougher on everyone, but we’re more resilient than ever before.
Will finding a relationship get easier in the future? We will have to wait and see.
I’m Ellen McRae, writer by trade and passionate storyteller by nature. I write about figuring about love and relationships by analysing my experiences. Some of the stories are altered to protect the people in my life. But my feelings are never compromised.