The problem is that I panic when I log in to the site. I start breathing heavy and my stomach has knots in it for hours. Part of the problem is that I live in a small town so some of the guys on there are guys I know, one of whom is pals with my summer boyfriend. In fact, one of the pics I put on the site is from a camping trip that he was on with me and the old boyfriend. How do I make myself do this?????
I would like to have a boyfriend or at least a few dates with someone that were good enough so that by date three or four I was making a conscious decision as to whether or not I should shave my legs. Please help me figure out how to psych myself up. I wish adult life were like college life – plenty of boys and plenty of dates. Or, I wish I could just calm down and maybe respond to a message. — Fish in the Sea
You know, a lot of people would argue your point that college has plenty of boys and plenty of dates. You’re only 32 — surely you remember some of the pain in dating 19-year-old boys. Surely you remember being 20 years old and wondering if the guy stringing you along with a coffee date here and a booty call there was interested in anything more than just fooling around with you. But instead you choose to remember your time in college as a banner time for dating. Why? Probably because even in the midst of all that insecurity and disappointment, you were having fun. So why not apply that same attitude to your current dating situation?
You’re single! You’re young! Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to have the best. dates. ever. You don’t have to decide by the third or fourth date if you’re going to shave your legs. Shave them on the first date and feel good about yourself! Who cares if there’s some guy on Match who knows a guy you dated for a few months. Big whoop. Lots of people log onto dating sites to find their exes. Be glad you’re simply running into a friend of an ex. Who cares? You think the friend of your ex is sitting in front of his computer, his stomach in knots, breathing into a paper bag because he saw your profile and he’d like to ask you out but he’s not sure he should since you briefly dated a friend of his? Come on.
You know what you need to do? Date like a guy. Date to have fun and find someone you might like to fool around with. After a divorce, followed by two short relationships that messed you up enough that you needed a time-out for several months, you deserve to just have fun for a bit. If you see guys online whom you know, look at that as an immediate ice-breaker. Send a little note saying, “What’s a guy like you doing in a place like this?” Neither of you is doing anything to be ashamed of, so quit thinking you are. If you ran into someone you know at a party would you have a panic attack then? No (at least, I hope not). You’d say hi and be happy to have someone to talk to. Apply that same logic online. It’s really not that different.
And look, if the thought of dating has you so freaked out, maybe you aren’t ready yet. There’s no shame in that. I don’t know the details of your marriage or divorce or the relationships that followed it, but you do say you had to take a few months to “get it together.” Maybe you jumped back into dating too soon following your divorce. Maybe your confidence was shaken when your marriage ended and it took another beating in the preceding relationships. Are you sure you’ve healed from all that? It’s okay if you haven’t. Be honest with yourself, though, and give yourself permission to sit things out a bit longer until the wounds have healed. Just because your sister and best friend are pushing you to get back out there doesn’t mean they know best. Listen to your gut and do what feels right to you.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.