Intentionally Single

I had a conversation with a friend a little while ago in which I realized that modern dating (especially on mobile apps) has become like an unpaid Human Resources internship, during which I read reports, schedule appointments, interview prospects, evaluate experiences, drink too much coffee, and wish I had more free time to do the things I enjoy and that bring me life, or at least that pay me a salary. It’s like work, but my boss is a tiny imaginary tyrant who berates me for being single, judges me for being divorced, and is mad at me for being less available And less engaged in the process than I should be. And that was when it really hit me: Why would I want to do any of those things, when there are so many things I actually would like to do? Why work an imaginary internship that takes time away from what I really value, that drains me emotionally and keeps me from being a better person?

Lots of people take a year off from dating in early sobriety. It’s not required, but it’s often recommended. I didn’t. My sponsor didn’t care whether I did, and I think wisely saw that making it a rule for me would have resulted in me pushing back against it anyway. Instead, like many things in my life, I had to come to a point where the pain of staying the same became greater than the pain of changing. Once I realized that all of my time spent single had been entirely unintentional, and how much of that time had been spent (unhappily, I should add) trying to not be single, I knew something had to change, and I was ready and willing for that change to take place.

So, it’s official. I’m off the market for 2019, and not just because I’m not meeting anyone. I’ve had some decent dates, but my life is ready to level up. I’m looking forward to the rest of 2019 being a time of real intentional growth as an intentionally single man, not as some kind of punishment or “woe is me” experiment, but because life is so damn full and rich and short, and there’s a lot I want to do and see.

Becoming

I have a long history of taking shortcuts. The experts (if you believe experts, and sometimes you should) say you should give yourself significant time after any major life change. For example, they suggest that you hold off on involving yourself romantically with anyone for a year after a marriage ends or a spouse dies. In 12 Step communities, the guideline is to not start a new romantic relationship during one’s first year of sobriety. Unsurprisingly, I have heeded neither of those guidelines, and I’ve ignored quite a few similar ones. As is the case with other people, part of it has been that on some level, I believe that the rules don’t apply to me. Kind of arrogant, but there it is. As it turns out, you can ignore the rules, but the rules carry on whether you agree or not.


Just a guideline.

I spent the last month or so in a long distance relationship with someone I met online. Unlike some of the individuals I’ve met online and dated for any length of time, when things had to end, despite feeling sad, I still had nothing but admiration and respect for her. She is an excellent person, and I enjoyed our time together so much. Sometimes things just don’t work out logistically, and while that is unfortunate, it’s the way of the world.

After things came to a close, I started to evaluate the direction my life had taken. The past two years of sobriety have been almost all upward trajectory except for my romantic relationships, which have been a mixed bag. While I’ve had some good experiences and have learned a lot about myself, I never took the time to have a clean break of any length, but I’ve reached the point where I don’t think I can put that stage of self development off any longer.

Definitely.

So last night, a week or so after my long distance relationship ended, I threw one last Hail Mary pass and went out on a date set up by an app with a name that starts fires. I told myself that if this didn’t work out, I’m taking some intentional time to working on my life off the dating grid. So of course we had a lovely conversation and a nice afternoon, and for a couple of hours I thought maybe I wasn’t ready to take that next celibate step. But then she responded that while I was funny and sweet, she was going to pass on a second date.

Message received, universe.

It’s time for me to stop the swipe fest and really commit to this thing. So the apps are deleted, the profiles erased, and the online dating shop is closing down. For the first time in my life, I think I’m actually willing to live life intentionally single and learn from it. I look forward to seeing what I can become.