A Diary of the Modern Single
Dating in these modern times takes persistence and an unending faith in divine timing.
I had high hopes for John, a man I matched with on Tinder a month ago, while I happened to be down in the Florida Keys on a weekend getaway with another man I had matched with on Tinder. That was Franklin, who was in St. Petersburg as I was driving through a few months prior, when I already had set up a date with Ed, who I matched with when I happened to be staying a few hours away in Live Oak. Ed was fantastic, but he had a one-way plane ticket out of the country. Franklin was a successful attorney who was nomadic like me, but he was boring even though he personally found himself outrageous with his deviant-yet-cliché interest in kinky sex.
Before Ed, I was kicking around New Orleans with Stewart, a firefighter who drank a bottle of wine, two martinis, and another glass of wine on top of that throughout our date. I had a lemonade. Stewart only got a kiss in part because I was also dating another man, Michael, who was cute but depressed and didn’t like to leave his house or do much besides order in food, play with the cats, and fool around with me.
But John was interesting — and quite handsome. He texted me a lot before I arrived at his artsy compound in the tropical Lower Keys of Florida, sending me music and sharing his life. I wrote in my journal that he might be the unicorn I was searching for, so I was thrilled at the invitation to get away from the cold of winter and into the sanctuary of a warm heart.
But hearts are funny, aren’t they? One minute they’re open to love, and the next they are closed with fear.
Dating hasn’t really been going very well for me these days. Am I the only one? Am I alone here? I know the answer that last question. I bet lots of women can replace those names and cities and tell the same story. Maybe men can, too. My experience has been that the men I meet have extra work to do to be kind partners interested in an equally supportive and mutually rewarding relationship with me.
It seems like the percentage of emotionally unavailable or worse, emotionally constipated men is just as high as it’s ever been, in spite of all the progress we’ve made as a compassionate society. Men with avoidant attachment styles are a dime a dozen, even though research shows they’re just 25% of the adult population, single or otherwise.
These guys are lingering in old heartbreak, unable to get past the hurt, scared to love, scared to love again, and looking to avoid responsibility for their own power in this world. So many refuse to go to a therapist or try yoga or get a massage or talk to a friend or do much beside drink heavily, work until exhaustion, and, I guess, try to get laid as much as possible.
Perhaps that could be a blanket statement about modern mental health for men and women and people of all gender identities. I’m not trying to throw shade on men in particular. I am not a man-hater, quite the opposite. I was ready to open my heart and love every single one of these guys I met in the last four months. But if I have to get mansplained over something basic or be forced to listen politely while some dude on our first date tells me all about an ex-girlfriend again, I may scream.
Guys, can you please just ask a woman how much she knows about a topic before launching into an educational diatribe? Or how about bringing flowers? Just a couple that you picked on the way from your car will do, seriously. It doesn’t take much to win a lady’s heart. You just have to want to. It’s shocking to me how few single guys want to win a woman’s heart. I get that dudes on Tinder just want to have sex, but don’t relationships include a lot of sex? Good relationships should, I think, along with a lot of laughter and good times.
I’ve never been very big on drama, even though I’ve been in some relationships with men who thrived on yelling and punching walls. I know relationships aren’t always fun. I also know that relationships can actually, yes, be a lot of fun. I’m finding it strange that it’s so challenging to find a man who is interested in one without relapsing into self-sabotage before getting there.
I’m not desperately single at all. I’m not pining for a baby (quite the opposite!), and I don’t necessary need to get married 20 years after my divorce. I also don’t live in a small town, where I went to school with all the guys and all the good ones are taken. I travel wherever I want and stay wherever I want. I have the pick of all the single men in the world. Yet there I was in John’s living room hearing a drunken ramble about how there’s no reason to love because all relationships inevitably “crash and burn” like his last one with some troubled cheater he mistook to be a soulmate. I left his house and cried.
I’m just really ready to have a blissed-out love affair for the rest of my life.
Caring girlfriends may advise me to take a break from dating, but I have. This last stretch of suitors appeared when I got back on Tinder after a season of solo travels in my RV from California throughout the mid-West, along the Great Lakes, and into Maine. I enjoyed my own company as I paddleboarded against the wind in Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, ate pasties in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, saw the rainbow above Niagara Falls, and hiked up the famous Beehive in Acadia National Park in Maine. Looking cute, I’ve taken myself out on scores of awesome dates, treating myself to the best meals and sweet gifts like an ocean-scented soy candle from a lovely shop in Newport, Rhode Island.
But darn if I can find a good guy to share it all with. Jerry in San Diego was great in a lot of ways, but he was also a mouthbreather and hoarder who refused to sell the toys he was storing in huge stacks of dusty bins in his bedroom as a misguided retirement plan. Before him in Mexico, it was Brian, a classic avoidant who was amazing in so many ways until he asked me to move in. Then he immediately stopped wanting to sleep in the same bed and proclaimed he needed space.
Readers are likely now wondering what the hell is wrong with me, and that’s a valid question for any single person of a certain age. I’m trying to figure me out, too. It’s a journey in self-mastery, and well, it’s the journey that matters in the end, right? I’ve had years of yoga and spiritual study, solo travels, bodywork, energy work, breathwork, and self-parenting practices. I’ve been journaling and doing shadow work. I even met with a life coach to better understand what a healthy relationship looks like. It was helpful until he started pushing the ayahuasca. I don’t know. Maybe doing more drugs would do me some good. But I know there’s no magic pill. All of this inner work takes exactly as long as it’s supposed to.
I’m 44 years old but still feel youthful and positive about life. I do love myself, and I have the habits to prove it. I work out. I meditate. I eat a healthy vegetarian diet, haven’t had a sip of alcohol for more than 10 months, and can limit myself to a square or two of dark chocolate at night. I read, connect regularly with friends all around the world, limit social media, play my ukulele, sleep well, and balance my career with lots of fun adventures. Yes, I drink plenty of water and take my vitamins.
I also know that I create my own universe, so I’m responsible for bringing these otherwise-nice-but-not-right-for-me-right-now men into my life. What more needs to be done to prove my self-love to myself enough to bring a high-quality man into my life? He’s out there, I know it, and I guess he’ll arrive exactly when he is supposed to. In the meantime, I’ll keep my heart open and wondering who’s next.