T and I ended very amicably after dating for three months (I wanted something more than maybe seeing each other twice a month, and he could not commit to that). W was really fun for a few weeks, but he ended things with me because he did not feel he was falling in love with me. (I believe he jumped the gun on that one; I think it takes longer to get to know someone, but I did tell him I was glad he let me know sooner rather than later).
I am currently seeing F, a grad student who is about six weeks away from graduation. We’ve been dating for about three weeks. He is very busy with end-of-the-year projects and such, and I’m very aware that he should not be compromising his long-term goals for someone he just met. That is the logical side of my brain talking. The other side is full of anxiety, like, when he says he’s busy with work this week, does he really mean it? Am I yet again not worth the effort? Why would he pursue dating if he doesn’t have the time to actually get together?
I’m looking for advice on staying positive during this uncertainty and not letting my anxiety get the best of me. I’ve (mostly) enjoyed the dating process so far, and I realize it’s a long pursuit, but I’m also concerned about getting fatigued jumping from one short relationship to the next. Again, the logical side of my brain knows I shouldn’t compare my life choices to those of others, but a big part of me is scared that, because I never dated in my teens and early 20s, I will always be playing catch-up. — Getting Fatigued
You’re definitely not always going to be playing catch-up, mostly because you aren’t behind anyone. Dating isn’t a race. And even if it were, getting to the finish line first isn’t the goal; enjoying the run and finding true happiness is. Besides that, at 27 you’re in a peer group that is mostly still dating and you still have many years before the pool of eligible bachelors begins shrinking. And even when that happens, it’s only for a couple years before many of the guys who married young start hitting the market again after they get divorced. This is all to say: relax, stop putting so much pressure on yourself (and the guys you’re dating), and keep in mind that time is still very much on your side.
One thing that stood out in your letter is that you seem to want to immediately jump into seeing someone pretty frequently. You broke up with one guy because he could/would only see you every two weeks or so (which is pretty normal frequency for someone you’ve just met, especially if you are also dating other people and have a busy schedule). And now you’re complaining about how a guy you’ve been dating for three weeks is so busy with end-of-school projects. I mean, God, sometimes it takes me three weeks to return a friend’s phone call. Granted, that’s an entirely different scenario, but I want to point out that three weeks in adult time is super, super brief. If you’ve even seen him three times in that period, that’s impressive, especially considering his busy schedule. As to why he would pursue dating when he doesn’t have time to get together, I don’t know. His idea of dating might be different than yours. Maybe he’s fine meeting up for lunch or a quick drink here and there until his schedule opens up. Maybe he was pretty passive on OK Cupid until he saw your profile and decided to act. Maybe he knows what a catch you are and doesn’t want to miss out, and he hopes that, by keeping in touch at least tenuously until he can give you more of his time, you’ll stick around. Maybe he figured you, like many people who try online dating, are seeing more than one person and wouldn’t have time to meet up more than once a week at the most anyway.
And you know what, seeing more than one person is a pretty good idea. Just because you’ve found someone whose company you enjoy doesn’t mean you should stop looking for others. Having two or three people you’re casually seeing has multiple benefits: it increases the likelihood of a potential match; it occupies your time; it (hopefully) keeps you from getting too anxious and wound up over one person since there’s someone else vying for your attention. So, while you’re waiting for Grad Student’s schedule to free up a bit, see who else might be up for going out. Maybe you’ll find someone you like even better. Maybe YOU will be the one in the position of being too busy for more than one date a week. And maybe comparing different guys and the feelings you have about them when you’re with them will guide you to a better match than you might make thinking you only have one option.
Finally, if you feel like you’re experiencing dating fatigue, the best antidote to that is to take a break. Hide your profile for a few weeks and spend time with your friends or engage in some solo activities that help you re-charge. Remember, this isn’t a race you win by being first — or even by being fast. This is a race best “won” by having fun, keeping an open mind, and, oh yeah: checkin’ yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.