Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.
For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.
I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.
So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?
Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.
The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.
Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?
Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.
I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.
Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.
Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.
Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.
Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.
I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.
Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.
In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.
Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.
Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.
We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.
The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.
I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.
And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.
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When I was 16, one of my best friends said she doubted that I would ever get married.
“It’s because of your liberal views,” she said. “Men don’t really think that way.”
I was hurt by this statement. But I didn’t believe it. I thought of my hometown, a small South African town, as a place with mostly narrow-minded people with an apartheid-era mindset. I thought my love life would look far more promising once I got out.
“Just wait until I go to university,” I thought.
And eventually, I did leave for university. I packed my bags and moved towns to pursue a degree in journalism.
I met men who were feminists. I met people in interracial relationships. I watched theater productions about confronting your own white privilege. I protested against rape culture on campus. I was around the enlightened, and my perfect man was somewhere in the crowd.
Except he wasn’t.
Politics is cool when you’re in university, and so is activism. But there’s a time and place for it. In class. At protest meetings. But not so much in social settings.
I met boys. I went out and got drunk on a regular basis in my first-year. There were drunken hookups. Boys have, for the most part of my life, taken an interest in me. Up until the point of politics.
Often boys have initiated conversations with me. It must be fun to watch. At some point, the conversation moves towards interests and I talk about politics and social justice. One of two things happen. Their eyes glaze over and slowly they make their way out of the discussion. Or they entertain me and even challenge my ideas. It’s fun. But that’s all.
It’s very seldom that someone will follow up their pursuit after they have heard me talk politics. And so, I’ve stayed single – but I’m okay with that.
Social psychologists from the University of Buffalo studied the reactions of men to women who appeared smarter than them. They found that men found smarter women attractive from a distance but less so when they came into close contact with them. I don’t know whether men find me smarter than them. But I do know that most men are uncomfortable with the way I engage in conversations.
My friends used to warn me about avoiding discussing social issues at events. “You always talk about such serious topics. It’s depressing,” they’d say. “Guys find it intimidating when you talk about intellectual stuff.”
They’ve mostly given up warning me since I ended up talking about politics anyway, even though I used to try not too. I used to try to be less opinionated. Less vocal. Post less on Facebook and talk less about social injustice.
But I can’t, and I won’t. And that’s okay.
I have always been interested in social affairs. This interest is not limited to my studies or writing. It follows me around during my shopping trips, my travels and yes, even my nights out.
My interests in social issues often paint me as the angry feminist. And it’s true, I am angry. Angry at the many ways society has failed marginalized groups. But I don’t direct this anger to people who engage with me, I simply explain it.
Apparently, that’s not cool. In fact, there’s even research to show how badly society responds to angry women. A paper in the journal Law and Human Behavior presents a study that has shown that when women express anger in a group discussion it undermines the argument to the group. The opposite is the case for men and their anger validates the argument. It’s a narrative most women are familiar with. The angry woman is often portrayed as being emotional and hormonal rather than legitimately angry.
In a Medium post, Sana Saeed wrote that caring about politics is shorthand for, “I care about what happens to people and how our world functions.” For that very reason, I can’t pretend to be apathetic about social injustice and I can’t truly be happy with someone who is indifferent.
I hope that in an era of social justice and women’s rights, women will no longer feel the need to suppress the parts of them that make them appear intimidating and thus undesirable. But until then, I am happier being angry and intimidating on my own.
Gone are the days of the stigma of saying that you met someone through an online dating platform. Couples who meet online are proof that every person out there on the app is not pathetic or unable to meet people. But at the same time, the internet is filled with online dating horror stories – guys just looking to hook up, closeted misogynists, and of course, people who look nothing like the profile picture you were attracted too.
While these dating woes are very real and very frustrating, they do not have to overwhelm your journey towards the right partner. As a success story of online dating myself, and someone who has seen quite a few successful couples in my group of friends, hope exists. Do not self-sabotage, get ready to learn a lot about yourself and others, and enjoy yourself along the way!
[bctt tweet=”While online dating woes are real, they do not have to overwhelm your journey towards the right partner.” username=”wearethetempest”]
1. Online dating is a great way to be introduced to new people
You work a lot maybe, or big parties and groups do not feel like the best way to meet people. Or maybe you are a social butterfly and love big gatherings, but why not have another mode? After some swiping and filtering through who is worth your time to engage with, you meet new people in a much more meaningful way. I personally didn’t enjoy the concept of speed dating and places where people reminded both women and men that we are single. I already knew I was single, thank you very much.
2. Spend more time in person than on the phone or on chat
So you gave your number and gave that guy the green signal to take the conversation forward. Congratulations! After about an hour of conversation when you determine he is not a serial killer, meet him in a public place. No details of where you live, or anything else. Sometimes the problem with too much phone time is the in-person falls flat. After all, you want to fall in love with a human, not a screen.
[bctt tweet=”Couples who meet online are proof that every person out there on the app is not pathetic or unable to meet people” username=”wearethetempest”]
3. Use coffee or happy hour as your first meeting
With #2 in mind, keep the meeting at a low-key place without high expectations of a fancy dinner. Coffee or a quick beverage of any sort also is not too bad of an investment of time nor money. Let’s be real, sitting down with a person to dinner is a big investment, both in money and time. Do not be a jerk though and only choose the spot nearest to your own house (I once knew a guy who did that).
4. Find an “out strategy” in case a date is not going well
Oh, yes. This one is one that women tend to “feel bad about.” Well, don’t! Wrap up and say you have to finish a major deadline or that you are a boss who can’t miss out on your Tuesday night Bollywood workout class. Neither your nor his time is wasted.
5. If he is responding to you very sporadically or not calling after the first day, let it die
Many of us have perhaps made this mistake. Yes, he did see your message. No, you should not get so down on yourself if he did not respond exactly thirty seconds later. However, from experience, I can tell you it is obvious when someone really feels like talking to you and when they do not. Please do not read much more into it. Do not feel silly for thinking that the guy you like is not really giving you the time. He isn’t! Next, please. You’re a catch for a reason.
6. If he at any point is asking for sexy photos or invoking sex soon into the conversation or texts, let it die
If your goal is also to hookup and you are cool with that, then this does not apply to you. However, if this is not your goal, just stop bothering. No reason to get angry about it. It becomes even easier to keep your options open. Never do anything that you are not comfortable with or think you need to do it to be more attractive.
7. If he only talks about himself and takes no interest in your life or what you have to say, please let it die
It seems easy. Someone shuts up for maybe thirty seconds or at least wants to know more about you. This also comes from body language while YOU are talking to him. Does he fidget? Does he look at his phone? Does he hold eye contact with you? Have you cut the small talk and started asking the deep questions?
8. Do not be fooled by the “mystery man” who tells you he is too busy after the first date
He is full of it. He is not too busy because he took the time to swipe right on you. He took the time swipe right on many women, which means he took time to start up conversations. Maybe he does have a demanding job and projects, and got way too busy, but you do not suddenly become too much of a drain on his professional goals in life. If a guy likes you, I promise he will make the time. Keep moving!
[bctt tweet=”If a guy likes you, I promise he will make the time. Let the lack of response burn and then keep moving!” username=”wearethetempest”]
9. Assess the humor in the process – it makes for great stories
I took a sociological approach to online dating after the first few times of being frustrated. I decided to take screenshots of some of the ridiculous things I saw in dating profiles, for instance. One of the most ridiculous was one man’s dream woman needed to have a BMI<25. Wow. So specific.
10. Sometimes you may end up making really good connections
For those dates that end with, “hmm…neither of us felt that” – it is not that he is a jerk. He may be a perfectly nice guy, but just not the nice guy for you. You are not a mean person for rejecting him and vice versa. Join forces and maybe you’ll have a new wingman! If love, chemistry, timing and all other complicated human components were that simple we would pair up quickly with the next nice person we meet. It doesn’t always work that way in reality, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a friend in the process.
[bctt tweet=”If love, chemistry, timing and all other complicated human components were that simple we would pair up quickly with the next nice person we meet.” username=”wearethetempest”]
11. Be present in the moment rather than obsessed with what things could become during the first date
I understand that you are a forward-thinking woman. You do not want to waste your time. However, just sit down with the man. The art of conversation comes from focusing on what is happening and being discussed right at that moment. Invest your time fully for that hour, and you may surprise yourself with what it turns into.
[bctt tweet=”The art of conversation comes from focusing on what is happening and being discussed right at that moment.” username=”wearethetempest”]
12. Walk in with positivity on every date. Negativity emits itself quickly.
You just finished a date with a complete idiot. You had to grab yourself another glass of wine, or another cup of coffee just to not lose it. But you always have to remember, good men do exist! If you walk in with emotional baggage from the one before, you may be missing out on them.
13. Put away your phone. Please.
Yes, you. Even if the date is boring you to tears, just keep it away. Unless you are giggling about that article that you both just read or want to laugh at adorable German Shepard photos, focus on the person at hand.
14. Let your main goal in a date be developing comfort and being yourself. Nothing more, nothing less.
I personally hated wasting my energy on being fake. It was too exhausting, and I would go home thinking, what just happened? However, that said, take the time to find topics that both you and Mr. X can talk about mutually. Or perhaps Mr. X or yourself have something new to teach each other.
15. Do not overschedule yourself
This is a real problem. You may have too many dates lined up in the week to where you just want to stay in and make a nice bowl of pasta all for yourself. Spread them out, and do not feel bad if you have to reschedule for your own sanity.
16. Some guys will just not be into you (and vice versa).
It is fine because there are many more! Admittedly, online dating is probably the one place many women have some advantage (and know it). So much of the power is in our hands because we have options. Many times women are overwhelmed by messages while men are swiping constantly before they match. Yes, I tested this by trading phones with male friends to understand what they were trying to tell me.
17. Do not act all nonchalant when you feel offended or hurt by something
Make it clear that you do not take shit when you have been ghosted or breadcrumbed especially after you invested some time. I did not do this in the beginning, but then I realized that by sitting silent, I accepted it. I would even show that acceptance when that same person would message me months later and act like nothing happened. No. Do not be a doormat. You do not need to go on a revenge streak and try to put thumbtacks on his desk chair, but say something.
[bctt tweet=”Make it clear that you do not take sh** when you have been ghosted or breadcrumbed especially after you invested some time” username=”wearethetempest”]
18. Take breaks from online dating apps for a few months at a time
A common complaint I heard from my girlfriends: “There are no good guys on these apps. It is the same lame ones.” And they were right. But the optimist in me realized we (at the time) lived in such a transient city. People enter online dating platforms at different times for different reasons. This made it more worth coming back on after a few months or when being on the move again to a new city! It was after taking a break that I found love through this medium!
[bctt tweet=”People enter online dating platforms at different times for different reasons” username=”wearethetempest”]
19. Only say online dating is not for you after you have given it a try
Maybe online dating has ruined dating, which I am also well aware of through many single friends and once even thought myself. I understand that the numbers game is completely frustrating, sometimes even demoralizing. However, just because some people may practice the trend of dating multiple people at a time, does not mean this has to be you. It does not mean each and every person on the app is doing exactly what people tell you.
20. Remember that love only comes when you love yourself
I know this one is cheesy, but it is the last point for a reason. Only when you love yourself first, to the fullest, can you love someone else.
Online dating may seem overwhelming but it does not mean you have to crawl into the fetal position and avoid it. The experience can be empowering, and who knows, sometimes even entertaining. Because you know that you have the confidence juice to find love, and little rejections along the way are simply ways to brush yourself off and keep going!
[bctt tweet=”Online dating may seem overwhelming but it does not mean you have to crawl into fetal position and avoid it” username=”wearethetempest”]
When I’m in a relationship with someone, I utterly and completely unfold for them. I give it everything I’ve got and there’s no half measures or middle ground. Instead, there’s an all-encompassing effort in an attempt to be the best girlfriend, the sexiest woman and the most supportive partner.
While being an overachiever can be a good thing, when I’m in a relationship it means I rarely leave anything for myself. By the time I’m done loving my man, I’ve barely got any crumbs left for myself. So as another relationship ended in which I realized I had once again given far more than I had ever got, I committed myself to the single life.
Despite the stigma, the sympathetic looks (of which there are many) and the crushing spinster stereotype, I realized that if I was unable to master the fundamental tenets of self-care, I had no business being with anyone at all.
Most people are afraid of being alone. I, however, was terrified I would give myself away again to the next man that came along. Giving yourself away once is painful enough, but doing it twice over the last five years has split me in ways that I’m not always sure I can recover from. Sometimes, things that are broken can’t be put back together in the same way. The pieces don’t always fit like they once did.
Deciding to remain single, despite the possibilities that arose over the past year, has given me an enormous amount of time and space. The time to understand the things I want and the space to fall for myself. It’s remarkable the shifts that happen when there’s no one in the picture and by no one, I mean there’s no romantic involvement, boyfriend, someone you like or a situationship going on.
In short, you’re not waiting for anyone to message you, which in itself is a liberating feeling. No matter how strong we are, we’ve all felt the agony of staring at our message screen waiting for those grey ticks to turn blue and the ‘typing…’ sign to appear.
I’ve found that being single is a lot like standing alone in a vast marble hall and every time you call out, your echo returns to you. Which is to say, you are utterly alone with only yourself to come back to and within that hall is infinite possibilities. I’ve been standing in that hall for over a year now, and instead of loneliness, I’ve felt all the love that normally flows out of me into another person, flow straight back into me.
Being single gives me the energy to selfishly chase every dream I’ve ever harbored. I can pick up and travel to Australia for two months, because I’m not worrying about when I’ll see my man. Even if I wasn’t worrying about it, I know that if I was madly in love with someone, I wouldn’t want to travel around Australia for two months because I would miss them and feel the pull of their arms calling me home from oceans away.
I can stay up late or hole myself away for weekends at a time writing as many novels as I like, never worrying about someone else’s schedule. Leaving those worries and the expectations you place on yourselves to always ‘be there’ for your lover is liberating as hell. It’s like breathing the freshest air you’ve ever tasted.
I’ve also learned that single seems to be a synonym for time. When I’m in love, in that gut wrenching, tremble every time you see their name kind of way, I spend time writing messages, rephrasing messages, having long FaceTime conversations, watching what they’re up to on social media, worrying about outfits and buying new lingerie every time they come around. I know I don’t have to do any of these things, I know the men I’m with don’t expect it, but I know that the person I am does it anyway. It makes me feel good and sexy and I love talking to the person I’m with.
So believe me when I say that my single life has given me so much free time, and I’ve put it to better use than I would have done having a four-hour conversation with some guy who gives you FaceTime because he can’t give you much else.
But time is a small thing in the grand scheme, and the lessons single life gives you are golden. Being alone means you’re confronted with yourself when normally you can hide in another person. It means you have to figure out how to make yourself happy when you’re sad. There is no one else to take you out and cheer you up. You have to understand your triggers, and learn how to talk yourself off the ledge when you’re in bad spaces.
Above all things, you must learn how to be so complete alone, that no matter who might come along, they could never take parts of you away. That’s the golden lesson, the best thing I’ve ever learnt and the reason I’m trying to persuade anyone who will listen to stay as single as they possibly can.
We’ve learned from childhood that we need a partner to save us, and I’ve spent years learning how to save myself and that’s something I’ll need forever, even if the love of my life turns up tomorrow.
He still can’t save me and it’s good to know that I’ve got my own back.