TDB left a comment on my blog in January and while responding to her I thought I’d turn some of the reply into a quick blog entry. TDB has never been on a date and she could relate to my entry about my lack of a relationship history. She used to wonder if there was something wrong with her, and of course I can relate.
But…as I finished off my 20s and entered my 30s, I realized that practically speaking, especially when you’re no longer in school or don’t work in a workplace teeming with men, it’s going to be harder to meet men “naturally”. You won’t have the opportunity to get to know someone gradually over the course of a school year and have them grow on you. There won’t be any study sessions where you blurt out your feelings for someone because you just can’t keep them in any longer, and have him reply that he feels the same way, that he’s always felt the same way (do I watch too many romantic movies?). The more established your career is, the less willing you might be to compromise your career by getting involved with a colleague, especially if your workplace does not condone such things (or perhaps like me you work in a place where there are about 25 employees and the six men are all in relationships, with the exception of the one who is your mother’s age). It makes sense that as you age, many of the guys in your age range are not single because they probably did meet the love of their life in school and have married them or plan to marry them.
There are some people, like one of of my female colleagues, who have a certain charisma that is evident when you first meet them. People of both sexes are naturally drawn to my colleague. Although she won’t necessarily approach a stranger and strike up a conversation, she has a vibe about her that says she’s approachable and open, and people sense and react positively to her. When talking she makes eye contact effortlessly and talks with her hands, reaching out to touch you lightly when making a point. I am one of her groupies I must admit; she’s that good. This colleague has become a friend over the years and when I go out with her she gets male attention without effort, just by being herself. It just happens that the person that she is is one that men react favourably to. Unfortunately we don’t all have that aura. Some of us are better when we write than we speak, some of us are able to open up and be funny and charming after we’re approached and coaxed to talk, some of us just take more time than others to show our adorable selves. There’s nothing wrong with that; all it means is that we have to make more effort to put ourselves in situations where we can meet potential fellows.
So to TDB and anyone wondering how they can improve their chances of meeting someone, I say you might have to try those approaches that take you out of your comfort zone. Can Mr. Right find you? Sure! But waiting can seem very long so why not do your own part, even if it doesn’t result in you meeting that special guy? At least you feel like you’re being proactive and I think there can be some great benefits too: the guy you meet might become a new close friend or even the person who introduces you to that special someone. But even if that doesn’t happen, if you are like me and get nervous conversing with people you don’t know (male or female) and have difficulty maintaining eye contact, putting yourself out there can be a non-threatening way to improve in those areas. And of course we can’t forget the numerous blog entries that these dates can bring!
I tried online dating because I knew that if I was looking online, surely there was a compatible male for me also doing the same thing. I saw it as a good way to practice talking to strangers and coming across as a smart, sassy person who is worth knowing. I made mistakes along the way (my biggest was not giving people a second chance to make a good impression, and going into a date assuming I’d be rejected because I’m fat), but I’d like to think that I became more relaxed with each new person I met and more comfortable making small talk. In the end I met a decent guy, though I didn’t think he was right for me, and through this exercise I discovered that there are still some good guys out there. I am no longer online dating though because I am still talking to that guy that my great-aunt introduced me to 18 months ago (mentioned in brief here, here, here, here and here).
Take home message: do let your mom/aunt/parents’ friend set you up with a good guy that meets the basics of what you’re looking for, do agree to go out with your neighbour/friend of a friend/guy on the bus who is not creepy and who has mentioned “grabbing a coffee”, and by all means do try online dating. Will you meet the guy for you by trying any or all of these? Maybe not! Will you’ll come out of the experiences feeling better about yourself and confident that there is someone for you? Maybe not but I sure hope so!