The Dating Cycle
I've deleted them. Every single one.
Tinder? No more. Ok Cupid? History. Bumble? Gone.
A strange move for someone who quite recently set up a dating blog, you might think. And you'd be right. It's why there haven't been too many posts on here of late.
But I think everyone reaches this stage in, what I have termed, 'The Dating Cycle' in which they just need to cleanse themselves, and their phone, of online dating.
Now, what do I mean by The Dating Cycle?
The cycle, with a few exceptions, begins like this.
STAGE ONE, PART ONE: THE BREAK-UP
Maybe it was you. It had been coming on for some time. Their laugh, it used to brighten your day. Now, it sets your teeth on edge.
Every quirky habit of theirs that once seemed cute is now just an irritant. So you make the call, and meet up for that ominous break-up chat.
Or maybe it was them. You knew things hadn't been right, but you hoped, oh you hoped, that you could put things right, that you could sort it. And then one day, they call, and you meet up, and it's over - just like that.
You cry, of course you do. And if not, you mope. It goes on for days. The sadness is in your blood, it seems.
The severity of the pain caused by such a sudden separation depends of course on the length and intensity of the relationship. If just a mere fling, this stage of the cycle will not last long. If it was more serious, it may continue for some weeks, maybe even months.
But not before...
STAGE ONE, PART TWO: THE REBOUND
You need to move on. You can't get them out of your head, and that just makes the pain so much worse.
You know you shouldn't. You need time to heal, but you do it anyway. You head to a nightclub, a bar, or fire up the dating apps on your phone and create a profile.
You meet someone. The inevitable happens.
Now, at this point, your rebound may well become your next relationship.
Or, as it does usually for me, it can fizzle out into nothingness, until the pain of the break-up you had been ignoring comes back full force.
But it's true what they say. Time is a great healer.
So after a while, the pain lessens. And you commence stage two.
STAGE TWO: SINGLE AND DATING
This is the 'fun' stage of the cycle, allegedly. And at this point, you may well meet the person with which you have a relationship with and break off before reaching the next stage of the cycle.
Or, like me, you flit from bad date, to bad date, to good date that ends in rejection, to another good date that ends in disapointment.
You meet some fun people along the way, but nothing sticks. You don't form a connection.
It's frustrating. They all tell you the same thing: that you just had no spark, the chemistry wasn't right, they didn't feel like it was going to work, they're just not in the right place right now...
After one too many, you snap. It's the final straw.
In a couple of clicks, the apps are gone. Deleted. No more swiping for you.
And so begins...
STAGE THREE: SINGLE AF
This is where I'm at right now. There's no-one remotely interested in me romantically, and there are no dates on the horizon.
I'm not going to any singles events. Sure, if I meet someone 'in real life,' and miraculously, there's an offer of a date, then I won't turn it down.
But I'm not hunting for it, I'm not swiping every evening to find my Mr Right.
And I've never felt calmer. I suffer from bouts of anxiety periodically, as many do, and taking myself away from the dating scene has done wonders for that.
This is the point where I'm supposed to preach about how wonderful it is to find self-love and respect, and to prove that you can have just as much fun on your own as with a romantic partner.
It is true, don't get me wrong. I'm having a lot of fun right now.
But no-one really discusses the loneliness that can wash over you like a wave, usually at night, no matter how happy and single you feel 90 per cent of the time.
There are some little moments, usually in the middle of something that you're really enjoying, like a walk down the beach, or a trip to a gallery, where you turn as if you would find someone smiling down at you - but of course there's no-one there.
You lie in bed at night, shivering a little, and want someone to put an arm around you, to keep you warm.
You travel, and find yourself wanting someone to share those memories with.
Being okay on your own is a fantastic place to reach, and one that I would recommend everyone try to get to - especially if they're like me and uncomfortable with the sensation.
But it's not the perfect picture that some people might paint. Maybe it is for them, and I'm glad. But for me, though I'm the happiest I've been in a long time, and I'm living life to the full, there are these moments where I miss the tender touch of someone's finger stroking my cheek, or someone to come up behind me as I wash up the dishes and put their arms around my waist.
And when that craving kicks in, the cycle continues. You move between stages two and three, until you meet that one.
Then, you may break up. And then the dating cycle begins again.
I can feel myself nearing the end of this happy stage three. For the first time in my life, I'm at peace with the fact I am single, and I am more than happy spending time with my wonderful friends, or just on my own. I am comfortable being uncomfortable alone, something that has never happened before. It just took time, a couple of months, to get here. It was hard at first, but got easier every day.
But I miss being someone's right hand person. I miss helping them when they're down, taking them to new places, I miss being looked at with love.
And so back to stage two I go, in a desperate attempt to try and break out of this cycle (at least for a while).
It gets a little repetitive after a while.
However, this time, I'm setting myself a challenge. I'm going to try and meet someone IRL first, and ask them on a date, putting myself out there, truly out of my comfort zone.
Wish me luck!
No matter what stage of the dating cycle you're on, just remember: you are not alone, even when you are.