In honor of the one year anniversary of my favorite article for Literally, Darling, How To Date Yourself, I want to talk about the thing that makes it difficult to want to “date myself.” I want to discuss feeling alone.
Everything I’ve ever written about has linked back to self-empowerment and independence in some way, shape or form. But the thing about self-empowerment and independence, and the reason why it has given me so much material to work with in regards to my writing, is because it’s so much easier said than done.
You can tell someone they’re not alone. You can tell someone to love themselves for who they are. You can even tell someone how to not feel alone and how to love themselves. We can say many many things. But just how do we connect the dots between saying these words and living them?
If actions speak louder than words, maybe one of the reasons why people date is to not feel alone.
I’ve been on both sides of the messy dating equation: I’ve been played and I’ve been a player.
When I was played, I felt worthless. I felt stupid. I felt used. Most importantly, I felt caught off-guard. These feelings naturally led me to the constant reminder that not only was I feeling lonely, but that I was alone once again.
So I used everything in my control in the hopes that I would never have to feel that way again.
When I was the player, there was a month where I was literally talking to about five guys at once. At the time, my feelings of worthlessness and stupidity which caught me unaware, were completely thrown out the door and possibly maybe thrown onto someone else. By having all these guys kept secret and for myself, I not only thought I would never have a reason to feel lonely again, but I also thought this lifestyle was the solution to gaining a sense of control in my life that I had been looking for, for so long.
You would think that being a player is the ultimate solution to no longer feeling alone. But as it turns out, it only left me feeling even more lonely. I may have had company, but it certainly wasn’t close company. These relationships were technically intimate but also nothing more than intimate, which ironically left me feeling anything but what someone should feel in an actual intimate relationship.
I went from being played to being a player, and in order to keep that role from switching back to where I once was, I chose not to let people in. But no matter how many people we surround ourselves with, if we don’t give the other person in our relationships the opportunity to surround themselves with us too, then is there even anything there at all? I supposedly had all these people, these guys, in my life… but they weren’t really in my life because I didn’t really let a single one of them in. So sure, maybe I wasn’t technically alone, but I might as well have been. Because if anything, having more people in my life who aren’t fully in my life only makes me lonelier than I was before.
Someone once shared the quote with me, “I don’t want to be alone. I want to be left alone.” Just like how there’s a difference between being alone by choice versus being alone without a choice, there’s also a major difference between feeling lonely versus literally being alone. Some things we can control, whereas some things we just can’t.
The result of being played and being a player have led me to the same conclusion. Despite the thought of feeling lonely, it’s much better to find ourselves alone than to have someone who is half there, doesn’t want to be there, pretends to be there, or vice versa. And after being a hot mess in this inevitably messy dating world, I realize now that it wasn’t loneliness I was afraid of, it was the fear of being alone.
I was looking for control that I thought I didn’t have. But in reality, I had control all along. I thought dating would give me that sense of power, but my control was practically being played by my fears of being alone. It’s easy to feel like we’ve lost control when we either catch ourselves feeling lonely or when we’re trying to avoid ever feeling lonely at all costs. But the costs of loneliness is realizing that I was never actually alone, it was just the idea of becoming that way that made me believe I had no other choice.
They say don’t hate the player, hate the game. But after being played and being a player, I just hate that I got this involved.
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