The Endless Dating Game

Tired of Being Single

From the WebMD Archives

Feb. 25, 2002 -- A woman recently asked WebMD's Savage Family Advice columnist Dan Savage this question about relationships:

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I'm a 36-year-old straight woman, reasonably successful in my career, with lots of friends of both genders. My love life, however, has been an unbroken series of disasters. I meet a lot of guys and date a lot, but after a while interest flags on either his side or mine. In the past two months, I've been through both experiences. One was a great guy with whom I seemed to have everything in common, but who just stopped calling; later I heard he'd found a new, younger girlfriend. The other started out as a wonderful romantic, cooking me candlelight dinners and sending me sweet notes, but then told me he "didn't want a romance, just a sexual friendship," which didn't interest me.

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I haven't had a serious relationship in five years now, and I'm starting to think there must be something on my end to create such a constant pattern of disappointment. I went to a therapist, who said I seemed pretty emotionally healthy to her. I've asked my friends to tell me straight on if there's something I'm doing wrong, and they say no, that I'm a kind and warm and likeable person and that I've just had bad luck, that the guys I've met have just been turkeys.

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Still, the only constant in this long, long string of losses is me -- the guys are from all different backgrounds, age groups and professions, and all of them seemed like reasonable people when I met them. And I've met them in all different ways -- everything from eyes across a crowded room to trying to turn an old friend into a lover, from work colleagues to the Internet. Nothing has worked out.

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What the hell is wrong with me, Dan? I'm so tired of being single. I just want a guy to call my own.

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Here is Dan's response:

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I'm not sure what's wrong with you, nor can I offer much advice beyond the conventional wisdom that floats around out there for single people who want partners: Keep your spirits up, don't wallow in self-pity, there's a guy out there for you, do things and go places you're interested in and you're bound to meet him. That's the advice Ann and Abby have been giving both men and women suffering from your particular problem for, well, for ages and ages. And, as is often the case, conventional wisdom became conventional for one very good reason, i.e., it's true.

Continued

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So don't wallow, get out of the house, and try keep your spirits up, OK? And you knew that already, right?

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And you'll find it easier to keep your spirits up if you work at keeping your problem in some sort of perspective. "My love life has been an unbroken series of disasters," you write, before ticking off some relatively common frustrations that all single-and-looking people suffer. Flagging interest, an early change of heart, sexual incompatability. Those sorts of things happen, and it's frustrating when they do, but it's not a disaster. Abandoned at the altar, domestic violence, hurricanes -- those are disasters. You're just having a dry spell -- actually, you're not even having a dry spell. You don't lack for dates, you're just not having much luck finding a date who can turn into something more.

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The only cure for run-of-the-mill dating frustrations -- and I hope you're sitting down -- is yet more dates, some of which might be frustrating. But continuing to date is the only way you're ever going to find a keeper, and only when you find a keeper will you feel like your bad luck has ended. But you can't date from a bitter, resentful, or desperate place; those three emotions will all scare off potential boyfriends, as well as children and small animals. You have to will yourself not to get bitter and try and look on the bright side even when a new relationship goes suddenly south -- which pretty much brings us back to "keep your spirits up," doesn't it?

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Dan Savage is the author of "Savage Love," a widely syndicated sex advice column, and The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided To Go Get Pregnant, a book about becoming a father. Like most advice columnists, Dan has no professional qualifications, just lots of common sense and a sense of humor.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD
© 2002 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

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