Thursday, April 10, 2008

Another 5,000 Down

Or that's how it seems, anyway. In the last two or three weeks, it seems that a lot of friends or acquaintances or random people I read about on blogs have been getting engaged or married. On one level, I am certainly happy for them. Some are older than me (although some are younger--back to that later), and they must be happy and relieved to have found their other halves. On another level, though, I have to admit that I'm bummed out, not for them, of course, but for me.* I have lived in the place where I attend grad school for 4.5 years now, and as I look back at the single people I met when I first got here, a surprising percentage are engaged, married, or in serious relationships. Or maybe it's not surprising. Maybe it's more surprising that I'm not in a relationship, even though I have been (once) in the past. This fuels a common fear that I have about being left behind. As I have talked about in at least one previous post, I have never exactly been at top of my class in terms of social skills and relationships. High school was not good. I had a few close friends in college, but I didn't have a circle of friends until a year or two into grad school, i.e. when I was 25 years old, younger than the age when some people I know are getting engaged and married now. Since then I have felt ready for dating, but things haven't really been going that well for me, and I worry about being the one left standing alone. Sure, there will be a few others, but that doesn't make me feel better, nor should it.

In case you were thinking, "But Katrina, you're only 28; that's not that old," I would like to respond. Objectively, no, that is not that old in this day and age, given my demographic. But, the older I get, I have observed, the more discouraged and semi-closed-down the members of my (already so small) potential dating pool get. As I was discussing with one comically mismatched date in December--since we both realized we were comically mismatched about 10 minutes in, we were free to ruminate on the larger dating situation--it seems that the older people get, the more narrow their criteria get, when in fact those criteria should be getting broader. Call it the "I waited for this?" syndrome. This is only matched, on the guy front, with the "I'm suddenly tired of dating and will marry the next girl/woman I see," which is frustrating for the clearly smarter, funnier, cutier girl/woman whom you wouldn't even think about dating a year before because she wasn't a supermodel.

So, I open this up to the floor. Please don't all tell me it's okay, because I don't feel okay, and teh reality isn't okay, as we could all see from the article Shira linked to last week. The New York Times also has an article today about the reasons behind the man shortage, but I won't link to it here. Single people, do you share any of these feelings? I am trying to date (not too successfully, but I'm trying), so this isn't about my being depressed and hiding in a corner. Guys, is there some kind of faux pas that women commit that turns you off every time? And for pete's sake, people; if someone writes to you on Frumster, write back, even if it is just that form letter. Not knowing is worse.

*And I really don't believe, except in my really down moments, that not being happy for someone guaranties poor results in the dating/marriage department. It's hard to imagine that life is that clear-cut.


frum single female said...

the dating arena stinks and even at 28 i can see why you are nervous. i wish i could give you more encouragement, but i know how tough it is first hand. that said, DON'T give up. just because its tough out in the dating world doesn't mean that you won't find your bashert. it just means that its tough. it DOES NOT MEAN give up.

Abacaxi Mamao said...

I have these feelings, sometimes. Like being sad when guys get engaged because that means that there's one less guy out there for me. I feel like these are terrible thoughts, but yes, I do feel them.

Lately, though, I've been looking at all of the people my age and older who are getting engaged and been heartened by this. If they can, I can, too, someday. I am also deeply engaged (hah hah) in the process of radically altering my life so that I am happier and better able to contribute to society. I think that focusing on these things (a) gives me stuff to do while I am taking a break from dating (at least the online stuff, I did fall for a guy recently in real life and he even made me dinner! and offered me wine! in his apartment! but he flaked out fairly rapidly) and (b) puts me in a MUCH better position to happily date and marry someone.

Since I've never been in a relationship with someone with whom I have any confidence that things would have worked out, I don't have any feelings of "the one that got away" or "I should have settled." I try to remain optimistic.

Also, it sort of (?) helps that a bunch of people I know around my age (say, 28-38) are now or have recently gotten divorced. It shouldn't help, and of course it is terrible, but it makes me less jealous of all of the engagement and marriage going on. Marriage is hard work and not every marriage makes it. Better to spend the time and money in therapy now, and figure out what's what, before taking the plunge. I don't just want a stam guy, or a stam marriage. I want a good guy and a good marriage.

Maybe I'm just saying all of these things because nobody's interested in me, though.