BlogHer, Dating

Dating in the New Year (and Looking Back at 2008)

(This is cross-posted at BlogHer.)

I’ve heard online dating sites experience an increase in enrollments in January. This doesn’t surprise me — over the course of just a few days, two of my female friends made a reference to 2009 being “the year.” As in, the year they will find love. January is seen as a good time for life changes, for new beginnings, for things we want to improve about ourselves. It’s the same with dating.

My situation is a little different in that I’ve been a member of Match.com since last July. My initial three-month subscription has already renewed once, and (unless I cancel it) the second renewal will happen in late January. I even set up a reminder on my calendar so I won’t forget when it’s about to happen, just in case I decide to make a change.

I’ve already thought about whether I want to continue with my subscription or whether I want to take a break. There are plenty of people who discontinue their membership for a period of time. Sometimes it’s because they’re in a relationship for a while, but it’s also due to getting fed-up, or ambivalent, and needing to take a step back before they give it another go.

I wouldn’t say I’m fed-up or ambivalent, so unless something unexpected happens and I end up meeting someone ultra-special in the next few weeks, I’m not planning to suspend my membership. Even with the wide range of experiences and emotions I’ve gone through in the past five months of being on Match, at this point the good parts are outweighing the bad.

Truthfully, dating is not always fun. I’ve met a lot of nice guys (even if there was no spark), but I’ve also had dates where I went home afterward and thought of all the other, more productive, ways I could have spent my time. I’ve had my feelings hurt, and I’ve been rejected (and done the same myself), but that’s…normal. I knew going into this that I’d have to deal with these things.

One of the things that stands out to me about online dating is that, unlike meeting people on an occasional and random basis, if you’re truly active and meeting new people pretty regularly, you’re experiencing these emotions (nervousness, happiness, disappointment, excitement) way more often than you normally would. Although it can definitely be exciting, it can also get tiring. Whether you’re meeting someone after a long day at work, or in the middle of the day for lunch, or taking time out of your weekend, when you’re meeting someone new you always have to be “on.”

One of the things that keeps people trying is the thought that the next person just might click. The thing is, you don’t know for sure until you meet someone in person, and I’ve definitely found there’s no consistency to my encounters. I can have a great conversation with someone via email, but when we meet, there’s no spark. And I’ve had the complete opposite experience, too, where I might not have been looking forward to meeting someone all that much and it turned out to be one of my best dates.

Do you want to know the most positive thing that’s come out of all this dating in the past five months? It’s made a really big difference in how comfortable I feel approaching and talking to new people. I’m not sure exactly when it happened — probably a couple of months in — but one day I realized that first dates aren’t nearly as nerve-wracking for me anymore.

There’s more of an understanding that, okay, I’m going to do this, and there’s no pressure, and maybe we’ll go out again but maybe we won’t. So we talk about our day, and ask get-to-know-you questions, all while checking each other out to see if we can imagine locking lips at some point. (Ahem. You know it’s true.)

So…dating in 2009? It doesn’t feel right to echo my friends and say that my goal is to find love. Although I’d like to find someone special enough that I’d want to date them exclusively, the thought of “being in love” honestly isn’t foremost in my mind. Love is something that happens over time, once you’ve been through a number of experiences together and can’t imagine going through them with anyone else.

I went through a wide range of experiences and emotions in 2008, but all of them have changed me for the better. For 2009, all I know for sure is that a year from now, I want to look back and know that I tried. That I took chances, and explored new possibilities, and did things that made me happy. And for right now, that means getting out and meeting new people.

Do you have dating or relationship goals for 2009?

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