How Serial Dating Became An Unexpected Form Of Self-Empowerment

One of my favorite bloggers, Leandra Medine, recently wrote an incredible article about the things she wished she had known while she was still single. And one of the many things I loved about this piece was how she coined being single as spectacularly single.

I also realized that the shoe fit – her advice was so on point and I was shocked and relieved to see that I was doing exactly what she had wished she had known once before. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t always this Carrie Bradshaw-esque single girl and I’m absolutely still working on myself.

But Medine advised that in order to be this BAMF spectacular single, you had to get yourself out there, and accept what you brought to the table for better or for worse. To date, not out of feeling obliged, but because you’re having the time of your life for no one better than yourself. Because you’re learning how to be more comfortable in your own skin, not by discovering how to string together the perfect recipe of beauty, wit, and charm, but by simply being unapologetically you.

And as of late, it took me doing the one thing I never thought someone like me would do to accomplish just that.

I’ve been serial dating a bit.

I don’t know if it had anything to do with dying my hair blonde and gaining some sort of majestic J. Lo faux blonde juju. Or whether 2017 may very well be the year dating apps die (help us God, please be the case). But one way or another, I was being asked out more in this last month than I can ever recall in my entire life.

I know exactly how that sounds, like the Nickelback of humble-brags, but hear me out.

I’m sort of like human camouflage. It’s like I have this magical power of seamlessly blending into large crowds. I’m just not the type person who gets hit on in public places, and no, I’m really not saying that in a self-deprecating light. I just don’t have that type of presence to wow a total stranger, and honestly? That’s kind of a relief for someone like me, considering I’m someone who would rather watch wet white paint dry on the wall than approach someone I find attractive. In fact, one of the few times I tried hitting on a guy, I did so by telling him his khaki pants brought out his brown eyes.

So… it’s is safe to say this whole dating-on-the-reg thing is major new territory for me!

But isn’t it frustratingly annoying yet interesting how sometimes it can feel safer to seclude yourself in what feels like a hopeless situation vs. making a change, and putting yourself out there all for the sake of avoiding the possible risk of being more vulnerable than you already have convinced yourself you are?

Before I hopped on the dating scene, my dusty excuse of a love life was at a more-than-usual depressing standstill. I found myself sulking over a guy who was not only completely inaccessible, but someone who I well-knowingly knew was uninterested. The ultimate single girl jackpot, huh?

But, I couldn’t help it. Whenever I would meet guys, my immediate reaction was always, “They’re not him.” Pathetic? Totally. But the first step’s acceptance, baby.

And with that, I finally came to terms with the obvious: it wasn’t him who was holding me back, it was myself.

So with my new blonde do, I was going on date on date on dates at jazzy speakeasies, with lobster roll dinners, bottles of Malbec, and my go-to mini-skirts.

I barely recognized myself, but in the best way possible.

Because the thing is, I actually didn’t really click with any of these guys. But as it turned out, maybe that wasn’t the purpose these dates were supposed to serve. 

As I’d go from one guy to the next, I realized it wasn’t so much about what was happening with them, but what was happening with me. By putting myself out there, I was reveling in a new form of validation and self-empowerment I had never felt before. I wasn’t playing along with this limbo in order to get over some guy, but just simply because it seemed like a fun idea to meet new people and finally allow myself to try new things— a very different type of date I’ve never allowed myself to go on up until now, maybe because I was too scared to before.

Though admittedly, the ride hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. Some dates were far from magical to say the least. Like the night spent with a guy who I was soo confident fit the status quo of future boyfriend material… until I went home with him, and he started telling me what to do in bed.

That was the same night I realized I had forgotten how to stand up for myself.

And while that night and the $40 Lyft ride home wasn’t pretty, the point is, I never would have come to terms with that not-so flattering side of myself until I found myself there.

Now I never want to be type of person who claims that the best way to find yourself is through the arms of someone else. That basically equates to rebounding and it’s not rocket science why that is a giant N-O.

But for the good, the bad, the gut-wrenching cringeworthy, and everything in-between, I was not only learning what I wanted in a plus one but I was seeing myself in a lens I never considering looking into before. Through these dates, I started to see myself for who I really am, and who I want and need to become.

Aka, someone who would have given herself way more credit before she jumped into that aggressively overpriced Lyft ride home. She would be someone who could and will stand up for herself, without biting her tongue. She would remember that at the end of the day, these dates will never define her and that dating should be a way to figure out what you want for yourself, not the other way around.

So, I kept dating.

And now I realize more than ever the spectacular thing about being single.

What’s so spectacular, is when dating has nothing to do with being loved or being needed. But rather, understanding that what bridges the two is the feeling of being genuinely understood. And realizing that even if the only person who seems to understand you right now is no one but yourself, it’s coming to grips that that should never be something to question in the first place.

With that, this blondie is free for dinner and drinks any time after 6. See you there?

Photo credit: Flickr

Ella

Ella

Ella lives in New York City and eats a Chipotle sofrita bowl once a week. When she was four, she wanted to be Posh Spice when she grew up. (And for the record, she hasn't ruled out that option just yet)
Ella