I didn’t go on a date until I was almost 24. This wasn’t because I was against dating so much as the fact that no one had ever asked me on a date.

But there I was, two weeks away from my birthday and a guy on Tinder asked if we could get a drink that night. It felt too rushed and I like to take things slow. I would be happy talking to a guy over text for weeks or months before meeting in person – but I said yes. Mostly because my coworkers urged me to, but partly because it felt just impulsive enough to be right.

It didn’t end up going anywhere. My second-ever date a few months later also didn’t lead to anything, but the two of them combined, mere months apart when I’d waited almost 24 years for a first date, felt like a sign – that times were changing. It felt like maybe, just maybe, I was finally becoming someone who dated.

 

Now two years have gone by and I’m starting to wonder if I’m not well on my way to another 24 years without a date. 

Again, it’s not that I haven’t tried or wanted to date. In fact, maybe I’ve wanted it too much. Maybe I’ve poured too much of my self-esteem into getting a date, a follow-up date, a relationship. 

These two years in a “dating desert” have been a rollercoaster. Some days I believe there’s something wrong me — surely there’s something wrong with me if I can’t get anyone to want me! 

Other days I’m convinced it’s not me, it’s them; the men of the world are just not looking at me the right way, not seeing all that I have to offer.

Ultimately, I think it’s neither of the two. What I try to remind myself (when I can), what I try to make myself believe, is that there’s nothing wrong with not dating.

This is something that I absolutely know and believe in my mind and sometimes even in my heart. I know so many great people who haven’t dated, or who did date but never married, or who did all the above but are alone now; and that’s not just fine, that’s good.

 

Because everyone has their own story to tell, everyone’s life is its own beautiful narrative, and it can’t all look the same.

I think back on the things I wanted as a child (married by 19, multiple children by my mid-twenties, living in South Carolina for my whole life) and I have to laugh.

That’s not my life at all.

I’m a single 26-year-old in New York City who can barely manage to feed herself most days; a brood of children would be supremely unlucky to have me as their mother at this stage. 

But as a kid, all I wanted was the story of dating in high school, engaged in college, married by graduation, family a few years later. I didn’t succeed in that plan obviously since I didn’t date in either high school, college, or even grad school. And I thought it made me broken.

I thought it meant I was unlovable, undesirable, and flawed in a way that couldn’t be fixed. Sometimes, if I’m being honest with you (and myself) I still feel that way. But that doesn’t make it true. 

Just because I feel broken doesn’t mean I am broken. 

More importantly, my time in single-dom is teaching me something very important: how to love myself. That’s something I’ve always struggled with. My self-esteem has lived at the bottom of the ocean for much of my memory, and I’ve lived with depression and anxiety since high school; all of that combines to make me not just dislike myself, but outright hate who I am much of the time. 

 

Being single forces me to reckon with that.

I can’t default to finding my value in the fact that a man loves me because there is no man who loves me. I can’t ignore the feelings of being undesirable, because they’re ever-present. 

It’s hard for me, as someone who desperately craves human connection and wants a so-called “forever person,” to come to terms with the fact that I don’t have that

I think it’s okay to want a relationship and be sad that I don’t have one. I do think what’s not okay is beating myself up over it. 

That’s what I’m trying to stop. Instead of looking at this amount of time with no dates as a desert, I’m going to look at it as just another stretch of ground on the journey of life, if you will.

Maybe it’ll last forever; maybe it’ll end tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to remind myself and everyone around me that there’s nothing wrong with being single and learning to love yourself.

  • Karis Rogerson

    Karis Rogerson is a writer and blogger in New York City. Raised in Italy and schooled in Germany and Kentucky, she proudly (and sometimes fluently) speaks 2.5 languages. Karis writes about books, interviews authors and cabaret artists, and explores topics of mental illness for various sites as well as her blog.


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