There’s a distinct difference between being Single and Dating.
When I look back over the past ten years, I’ve spent long periods of time being Single, but very few actually Dating. Aside from my pre-University Gap Year, and obviously the last summer, I’ve never really actively dated. I would bumble along single until a potential partner happened to cross my path. Alternating stages of Single and ‘In a Relationship’ through my late teens and twenties.
When your life is shaped by this pattern, it’s easy to understand why ‘Single’ can be seen as a failure to find a partner. But if this blog has taught me anything, it’s that there are two distinct aspects to being Single.
The first is your generic lonely Bridget Jones take on Singledom. Crying alone into your Haagen Das in front of chick flick marathons.
To be honest, I’ve very rarely found myself quite that ‘Single’. But my version of Bridget Jones involves my life revolving around my gym membership, and a lot of late nights streaming American television.
The other, more fun side, of Single is obviously Dating.
Because that is the bit which coupled-up people tend to be jealous of! Ok so independence, and the ability to make all decisions on your own is something my friends in relationships do sometimes envy, but for most, the appealing side to being Single is the unknown element. That idea that your future husband or wife might be just around the corner. A girl with a yellow umbrella, standing at the same train platform as you. The guy who offers you his seat on the Tube.
At first, when I began this blog, I was surprised by just how many people in relationships were regularly reading it. However the majority openly admitted to living vicariously through me. Whilst relationships offer a whole range of amazing experiences, emotions and opportunities, when you’re single, you have the freedom to date a different man every week (or in my case, 3 men!). You can explore websites full of photos, shopping for a boyfriend like a used car! You can play on phone apps, which let you ditch or date someone at the flick of a finger, and turn up to events, knowing every single person in the room is looking for the same thing as you.
I’ve often watched American movies and thought how unrealistic the portrayal of single life was. People don’t date that many people in real life, right? No one goes on a different date every week?
Your Single status is a matter of mindset. You can either choose to see it as a Failure to meet the right person. A failure to be in a relationship. The troughs between the Relationship Peaks in your life.
Or you can see it as a passport to a great deal of fun. An opportunity to meet new people and enjoy new experiences. To make decisions all by yourself for a period of your life, and enjoy independence to its fullest. Yes, Americans are more liberal in their dating behaviour, but perhaps that’s because they see Single and Dating as one and the same thing.
I’ve had a lot of people email me as a result of this blog, telling me how my stories of dating have inspired them to go out and try to meet people again. I assume because I made them realise just how accessible and possible it all is.
I think, particularly in Britain, we have a hesitance to date too aggressively – worried it makes us look desperate, or as if we’re forcing the issue. However in America, that stigma doesn’t seem to exist. People date because it’s a sociable experience as a singleton.
Which goes back to my underlying message about how to enjoy dating – one I’ve mentioned time and time again on the blog – See Dating as a fun experience, don’t see it as an ongoing interview for a husband or wife!
If my blog has achieved anything, I think it’s shown people just how easy it is to go out and get a date. And not just get a date, but actually enjoy an evening with a stranger … even if you have little in common and don’t fancy him. I can hand on heart say I fancied very few of my thirty dates, and yet I would rate most of the evenings and afternoons of the 30 Dates Challenge amongst my best moments of the summer. Because they were interesting and different.
Getting into Dating can be daunting and difficult. It’s a bit like driving a car, years after actually passing your test. If you haven’t done it for some time, even if you know what to do, you can still be very nervous and cautious, worried you won’t remember everything.
And if you’re worried, it’s easy to shy away and avoid putting yourself in situations where you’re back in the driving seat.
But the thing about Dating, is the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with it. It’s like anything – the more you practice something, the more it becomes like second nature.
The more comfortable you are, the more confident you become. And confidence is attractive.
So if you’re not a fan of your Single status, actively Dating can actually work two-fold. Firstly, by getting yourself back out there and ‘on the market’ – you’re opening yourself up to more opportunities. To chances to meet more men, and to expose yourself to wider oceans full of potential ‘fish’.
Secondly, you’ll find that by regularly dating, in such a way that it simply becomes a regular hobby – so that your weekday evenings aren’t just spent at the gym, or in front of chick flicks, but also incorporate the odd meal out, or cocktail with a stranger – you become so relaxed about it all, that when the partner of your dreams does appear, you won’t scare him or her off by being too shy, or excited, or awkward about it all!
So, if you’re Single but not currently Dating, get back in the driving seat, and start flexing your dating muscles again!
I promise – ‘Dating’ is a far more fun stage of life than simply being ‘Single’ – though I do have to warn you … the Dating part is so much fun, that you may find yourself not quite so keen to lose your single status anymore and actually settle down! And then you’ll find ‘Single’ is something you’ve actively chosen, rather than a status thrust upon you by someone else.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx