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"What do you do because you feel like you should, even if it's not the best thing for you?"
- Probably more things than I'd like to admit.

"I was so thrown by the question that WP had to answer for me"
Love that WP answered for you. :)

"Clearly my friends don’t think very highly of me."
While that made me lol, I'm sure it's not true. Maybe they just assumed you were content... Or they're really bad matchmakers.

"Dating, lately, has been grueling, unpleasant, time-consuming, and depressing"
Hmmm... Well, with that description, I can't blame you for throwing in the towel. But, I venture to say that now that you've said you're "out of the dating pool", you'll probably find a great guy. That's life. And, I hope it happens for you. :)

I don't know you but I feel like I do from reading what you write here. So I'm going to write to you like I would any of my friends.

First -- you don't have to go to showers like that. Say you're busy. Whatever. That sounds depressing and diminishing. I'm sure you had better things to do today anyway.

Second -- I sense your life is in transition right now -- that deciding to become a mother and write this revealing and inspiring blog -- are markers on the road to a new life for you. A life in which you're going to be more vulnerable, more confrontational (this blog is an example in which you're confronting us with all your stuff, confronting yourself), more connected. And being vulnerable, confrontational and connected is what draws relationships into your life. Not just love relationships, but all kinds. And those various kinds of relationships eventually sneak love into your life, like a thief in the night, planting evidence in your house when you leave the door unlocked and the porch-light on. And a pie on the counter.

I have a really good sixth sense about things, and I feel confident you're going to find love. But I think your life is going to change first. It sounds to me like you haven't been in a dating place for the past decade -- as you said, you're getting out of the dating pool you were *barely in*. And that's good, because there are different dating pools, and it seems like you were in the wrong one. Some people believe you should always be dating, and you should go on every date that comes your way, because it's just good for you to be active and practicing or something like that. I think that's wrong because I think going out with a ton of guys you already know you don't like just dulls your capacity for surprise and excitement, and it starts to make you feel like this parade of bad dates is all there is out there. Better to go out with a few guys you think you might enjoy, and maintain that spark of romance and imagination and hope inside you.

So the next question -- how do you meet those guys? Most nice girls are brought up to believe that guys always make the first move and blah blah, and because of that I always thought no boys liked me when I was younger. What I was missing was that because I was shy and non-confrontational and not particularly aggressive and had no experience with men, I didn't realize that the women around me who were really successful with men very often did make the first move. Not by asking them out, but by engaging them. If there's a guy they like, they make eye contact and hold it, they talk to him, they contact him, they're direct, they're unashamed about liking him. And then if he doesn't pick up the scent and ask her out, they move on. Realizing all this made a difference in how I relate to men. It all goes back to what I said earlier -- the important thing is being vulnerable, confrontational and connected, all of which I see you being. Which is why I think you're going to find love.

But I think you're right to throw in the towel on dating, at least the way you had been thinking about it and doing it. Sounds like that was terrible. Have compassion for yourself and all those people out there trying to find love. And for your future lover -- because he's out there too, right now, looking for you and wondering if he'll ever find you. Do what you need to to make it easier for him to find you. If that means introducing yourself to more strangers, smiling at more strangers, telling more people about this blog, going on more walks, nurturing yourself more, whatever. Or maybe it just means not doing anything for a while, just not thinking about it. Maybe that's what you need.

Have faith that it will happen in its own time (because it will. I'll bet you a thousand dollars it will.) And enjoy the mystery of how it comes to be. And stay away from those showers, if those get you down.

Wishing you all my best,

Oh and -- I have a pet belief that every time you say "you" you can just replace it with "I" so you know, ditto for me, all this ...

It's been a while since I attended a bridal shower, but I hated them. I remember that although there was a piece of me that was happy for my friend, the rest of it was brutal.

My solution (although it wasn't intentional) was to start over in a new city and to Ashton my address book. Now all my friends are about 10 years younger than I am, also single and looking, and they are constantly awed by my youthful skin.

This all leads me to believe I'm younger than I am. Which is great, at least until they start getting married.

Dating is so ridiculously overrated. I'm over 40, not a size 4, live in Los Angeles, and work in the industry. Why fucking try? Anyone I meet will easily find someone younger, thinner, and less demanding. I'm very successful, intelligent and don't feel like playing the dumb bimbo. The men, they are pretty, but not at all necessary. I'll just enjoy my slice of cake, my Beverly Hills apartment, and my freedom instead. Savor yours.

I really like Julie's comment above. Sarah, I can honestly say that you are one of the most awesome people I know and one of my favorite women AND there is no single man I know who deserves you. I am totally serious. That said, I will start to think about guys who are at least worthy to court you. Much love, m.

I ebb and flow with dating -- sometimes it makes me feel more vibrant, attractive and optimistic; other times it makes me feel more lonely and prone to "there's nobody right for me out there" thoughts.

For the most part, though, I enjoy dating, simply because I'm no longer shopping for the love of my life. I feel that tends to happen when you're not looking, as Kate suggests. So if I just view dating as a fun way to meet new people and have enjoyable outings, then I have a much better time with it.

Also, I know online dating works wonders for some, but I absolutely hate it and have decided never to try it again (my stint on eHarmony lasted a whole two weeks). I am a fairly social person so I tend to meet guys when I am out and about, so that works better for me. Even if they're not remotely what I'm looking for.

I believe that you will find the right guy for you and if dating doesn't appeal to you for the moment, then so be it. I just hope you'll be truly open to the possibility of it, so when he appears, he won't get the cold shoulder.

I hear you. I get tired of being asked whether I'm dating anyone as though that would be the only interesting thing that could possibly happen in my life. And seeing movies you don't want to see, hunched forward because somebody's arm is around your shoulders, just isn't the greatest thrill in the world. But it seems like for a lot of people, if you're a woman, the only kind of story you're allowed to star in is a romance.

I wish dating was more common in Europe..


You are beautiful. Smart. Funny. Talented. Kind. Generous. A good listener. If I swung that way, I'd have asked you out years ago. Freshman year, to be precise. I totally had a girl crush on you.

Think of it this way: How many people out there feel the same way I do? Friends--who love you for all the wonderful things you do and are. People whose lives have been made richer by your laugh, spirit and warmth...

Not having a partner doesn't mean you need to feel lonely or unloveable--as long as you continue to nurture other relationships.
After all, having a partner doesn't always solve the loneliness problem either.

I'm pretty convinced that the majority of us, despite our pretense of cynicism, truly do buy into the "romantic love is the answer to all problems" myth. But you know what? It isn't. We don't really need Prince Charming to ride up on that horse and sweep us off of our feet. We just need to be loved, and to know it.

And I know you are.

Sarah Fain, you do rock my world. haha I completely understand your thoughts and feelings on dating. Luckily, I have never been to any bridal showers but the baby showers and all the pink decorations involved made me feel a little barfy.

Lately, I think I am walking through some crazy sort of blossoming (yes, I am becoming a lotus!). This non-joiner, non-religious woman is joining a big open-minded fellowship called Unitarian Universalism which I just can't call "church." I have met some cool people and that will expand my circle which I think is one of the best ways to find potential dates but it's not a huge priority. And I have changed my way of thinking about dating. I am doing the free online dating thing and if I see a woman that I think is cute and she has an interesting blurb and a sense of humor, I just write her a short how-do-you-do without any expectation that I'll even get a reply. I am going to take it all lightly and not ignore red flags that look more like Checkpoint Charlie. "It's just dinner" or "it's just coffee" is the way I am re-training my mind. Go somewhere cool where you can people-watch or hear music in case your date is boring or awkward but do something or go somewhere YOU like.

I liked the advice about asking the guy out instead of hoping he will ask you. Seriously, as a gay woman if I never did the asking I would NEVER get a date. Be bold. Some guys (and girls) like bossy broads. ;)

Or just take a break and snuggle your dogs. My friends and my kitty boy are all I really need. I know I will bump into some worthy woman eventually and I think, just for me, that getting out and experiencing nature and art will help me be a happier dara.

Sometimes life is just a crap shoot. You will spin out of the yucky self-pitying mode soon. If you lose your sense of humor, your gentle readers are here to sling it back your way!

I have the solution. Both my husband and I think you are smart, talented, beautiful and wildly entertaining. So we would like to skip the dating phase and invite you into our marriage. We can wear big prairie dresses and share the child care! It will be a glorious, drama-free existence in no way resembling Big Love!

As for why your friends are not setting you up with men, it is probably because most of the men they know have the fatal flaw that Helen Fielding in the persona of Bridget Jones describes as emotional fuckwittage. Seriously, I am amazed every time one of my friends finds a normal male who is actually looking for a committed relationship.

Anyway, if someday y

I am loving these comments. And I think Julie should write a self-help book. For the record, I agree that if showers/weddings/whatever else seem/are unbearable, don't go! Although... I didn't get the sense from your post that you wished you'd skipped the shower--just that it was hard.

Also for the record, I'll respect your wishes and quit bugging you about "getting out there." Cuz I agree with what these wise people are saying--boy in the picture or not, your life is changing in awesome ways!

bah, all of these people telling you that you are so awesome are missing the point. there are lots of people out there who SUCK but are in relationships.

being single has nothing to do with how awesome or not awesome you are. being reassured that I am awesome is really irritating to me. it implies that single people are single because they suck, or it implies they believe that.

finding love also has nothing to do with whether or not you're looking for it. that line also drives me bonkers.

by the way, I'm divorced, single, I'll be 32 in January, and I really want kids. I am Sarah Fain minus a coupla years.

so what do I do because I feel like I should, even if it's not healthy for me? I hang on to friendships well past their Best Before date. right now I have a friend who is incredibly needy in certain situations. she's fun in some ways, but not in others. she's fun to take classes with. we're right now in a wall climbing class together. but I hate taking her to parties because she will follow me around like a lost puppy. and so I don't meet new people because I spend all of my time talking to her. plus, gah, I just hate needy people. at one point I wasn't going to take this class we're in because my fall was looking busy. I told 2 of my friends about it, though, because it seemed like something they'd want to do. friend 1 said she'd take it if one of us took it. what, she can't take a class alone? friend number 2 said nope, she wasn't gonna take it but maybe later. so friend number 1, who is driving me bonkers, said she wouldn't take it. I ended up changing my mind because as it turns out my winter will be busier than my fall, so now we're both in the class together. sigh. feeling like I am responsible for someone else right now makes me anxious. I have enough with myself and my dog.

a colleague of mine is pregnant. I don't know her well. your post has reminded me that it will probably make things much worse for me if I attend the shower that's being planned for her. so, thanks!

He's probably asking if you're open because he's gotten too much, "Don't you dare fix me up!" I have a dear (male) friend who absolutely FORBIDS me to fix him up, or even point him in the direction of, potential women. I, however, think he's awesome. (Hey, how'd you feel about moving to the middle of Illinois...?)

My next suggestion: It's Just Lunch. It's a dating service -- really, dating AGENTS -- you may have heard of. I was very much like you; hated dating, didn't see the point, etc. etc. Then I did this. They fix you up, they choose the place, you just show up. Man, did I have some doozies. But there were a couple of guys with whom I had a nice time. After a while, I got over my fears of dating and the urge to put a whole bunch of pressure on it. It was an hour of my life, and if it worked, great.

The best part? No personal information exchanged unless you want it to be. It's just drinks (or lunch). When it doesn't work, you blame these people who OBVIOUSLY don't know you or your tastes. You give feedback after the end of every date. Very therapeutic. No one gets disappointed like friends who fix you up or guys you don't call back.

Or -- start telling EVERYONE, "Hey, fix me up! You're held blameless. If it gets to a second date, I'll name a character after you."

I'm all for wallowing and pity parties. Go ahead. You need a good wallow. But I also know that you're seizing your destiny, you are not one of those crazy-needy people described above, you have your life. Guys are going to find you incredibly interesting because you are Someone. I know that doesn't make you feel any better right now, but it's true. xoxoxo

As Charlotte would say, "I've been dating since I was fifteen. I'm exhausted. Where is he?"

Maybe if I knew there was a guarantee there was a happy ending somewhere at the end of it, dating wouldn't be such a draining experience. I think it's why I ignore my friends when they try to convince me to use online dating services. Seems to me that's going to take even more energy and I'm too tired of the whole thing to bother.

That said, I'd have better answers to your question if it were about what I'm NOT doing that I should be doing.

Oh and to go back to your question about why your friends haven't set you up, could it be they assume you're happy with how things are right now? I say that only because my friends are much the same and it's because I've been single so long and I'm typically quite happy that way. They don't see the moments at home when I'm feeling lonely or wish I had someone I could lay in bed and share the events of my day. Whereas I have a friend who is unhappy being alone and lets us know quite frequently. She's the one who gets set up instead.

Get out of that (cess) pool! If, IF, you happen to meet anyone, I'm sure you wouldn't be opposed to a relationship. You're not a hermit, for chrissake. You're just not that interested in being out there and frankly, sick of being in the pool (it happens with real pools too. It's fun for a bit, but I prefer sitting on the sidelines, eating and drinking and going on with my dry life, to actually swimming. To extend the metaphor further, swimming is actually quite unnatural for humans. So getting out of the pool seems like the only logical thing to do.)

But anyway, to answer your question: I do a lot of things because I feel like it, and not because it's the best thing for me. For one, I spend too much money on clothes. I'm not really getting anything out of this clotheshorse relationship, but it feels good and I feel like I need more stuff. Secondly, I am applying to law school. I want to go, and I'm excited for a new career, but I have a sinking feeling it's probably going to make me miserable for the next 5-10 years. So it's probably not what's technically best for me, but the alternative (wasting away in corporate America, climbing the provencial corporate ladder) is probably worse. But to be perfectly honest, I don't really know or care which is best. I'm just ready to get on with my life. And you should be too!!

I'd say "you go, girl" if this were 1994. You do whatever you need to do for yourself, and all you can do is cross your fingers and hope it's right.

[Sidenote: I know this is about feeling empowered about NOT dating, but if, IF, you were ever looking for advice, I would strongly suggest online dating. I know 4 people who were destined for (and moderately happy with) single life, who are now married as a result of match.com or eharmony. But please ignore this if it makes you annoyed. Ugh. I'm annoyed with myself for typing it. But I can't help but promote it considering its success for people in their twenties through fifties, including my mom.]

I just started reading this blog of yours, and I must say...this post struck a major chord with me. Please be gentle on yourself...I'm saying this because I see myself in your writing. I am the queen of mercilessly beating myself up to a pulp about being single. I have gone to four weddings alone this year. A recent ex of mine just married the "love of his life" last month (I found out he was married by his Facebook status update). I have been set up on blind dates with friends of friends who not only never call, but one of them canceled our date a with less than a day's notice, and then attempted to "friend" me on LinkedIn two months later. I have been asked: "Why are you still single?" more times than I care to admit, and although I want to scream, "none of your fucking business", I politely smile and shrug, laugh it off. Truth is, it hurts to be "singled out" as the single one all the time. My father gave me a subscription to eHarmony this year for my birthday as my only gift. That stung. I live in Los Angeles, and it seems like every corner I turn, I see guys wearing T shirts tighter than mine, with greasy hair dos, and aviator sunglasses. I am turned off. The guys who look nice, normal and dateable are wearing wedding rings. I notice these rings, and I think, who is she? How did she snag you? Are you happy? Will a man ever want to wear a ring on his finger for me? Who are these women who seem to have such an easy time getting married? I haven't had a relationship last longer than a few dates in a few years...I am smart, successful, and have made a wonderful home for myself, but there are times I feel so damn lonely on Saturday night. Sometimes when you're single, even going out feels lonely, because you're showing up somewhere alone (again).

I'm writing all of this, Sarah, in the hopes that you won't feel so "single" in your singleness. There are so many of us out here reading what you write, supporting you, and identifying with you. Thank you for your honest writing.

Wow, a powerful, heartfelt post. As I am anticipating entering the dating pool, I appreciate your position, Sarah, and the feedback from commenters. It's such a crap-shoot, it seems; my only strongly held belief is that you don't meet anyone sitting at home. But I've never been successful at dating services (Table for Six was fun because of the nice restaurants and pleasant women!); Match and eHarmony have been absolute busts for me so far. I met my late husband indirectly through a singles ski club about 15 years ago, so my plan for the next dating step when I am ready is to go social dancing or find a singles cycling club. (I love to dance and bike!)

Well. Once again, knocking it out of the park with these comments, ladies. You're making it very hard for me to sit around feeling sorry for myself. Which doesn't mean I won't be getting some comfort food for dinner and going to bed early. But I'll definitely be happier tomorrow, thanks to your amazingly kind, thoughtful, smart, and all-around wonderful words.

I know there are people who read blogs but don't read the comments-- who ever's doing that on this blog is seriously missing out. This is where all the good stuff is! (And Julie, I'm with Liz-- there's a very wise book in you, waiting to come out!)

I read this post yesterday but didn't comment because I wanted to mull it over - now I'm glad I came back and read all the fabulous comments. Wow!

I'm with Collette - telling me how awesome I am doesn't make me any less lonely. Likewise, whenever I get a little melancholy about being single, my married friends fall all over themselves to tell me how much their married lives suck...also doesn't help.

I'm also with Honeybee Happy. The older I get, the harder it gets to go out by myself because I know I'll be the only single person there...I blew off a friend's baby shower last year because I just could not deal with all the trading of birthing stories or complaints about husbands who don't help out. I'm already thinking of skipping the holiday outing for the senior staff where I work this year because I was so miserable at it last year - 8 couples and me. Ugh.

When people ask me why I'm not married (which they seem to do less and less and less as the years go by), I tell them that if I could figure out why, I'd BE married!

(I'm a different Liz than the one above, BTW)

Ahhh the single woman dilemma.. how is it that we have it so together and no one to share it with.. Because the reality we don’t want a person to support us or be in the traditional role. I always think that I want a guy to do nothing with.. those lazy Sundays, cliques but for a good reason.

In reference to dating… DON’T… Was that too harsh? Because really DON’T… just not yet…

You’re thinking of having a child. And what if you were to meet someone right now. What would you do about your dream of motherhood? Put it on hold to see if things work out with this guy? Because maybe, just maybe he could be the father of your children.

And then what happens if 6 months later you break up? Then what?

I’m only saying because I kept doing that maybe is him dance.. let me wait a bit more, maybe now. And here I’m at 43 and doing the research for doing it alone…

But I’m dating a guy.. Which is making it really, really fucking complicated.. because how can I tell him.. Hey babe, you know, let’s not have sex for a bit ‘cause I’m about to get pregnant by #101… Do I have the time to wait for the relationship to develop? Really, like someone told me once, you should spend a year with someone before you decide they’re the one…. Do I have that year?

Just because the decision of having a child isn’t hard enough… let me find a way to tell this nice guy that I can’t wait for a year.


BTW- my friends think I'm fantastic and a catch and have NEVER set me up with anyone... Life again.

You're right Sarah, your readers are brilliant! Ladies, you are a wealth of wisdom and understanding.

I've always been relieved to be able to say that I'm ok in my singleness. Not happy about it or preferring it, but ok with it. Cos I knew, know, that I would rather be single than with the wrong guy.

But lately...

It's harder.

I have all those people saying all those things. Marvellous, loving people who want me to be happy and fulfilled and loved and looked after.

Sarah, do what you need to do. Pity parties, saying no to invitations, no longer dating, changing your life into whatever you want it to be, getting out there and meeting new people, dating every single guy you meet, travelling to Nicaragua, watching and crying your way through every good girly movie ever made [and a few bad ones], having a baby, climbing a mountain, doing nothing but things starting with the letter 'A' for a month or changing one thing in your life everyday.

To be honest, it's not even for you that I ask you to do those things. Do them for us! And of course, tell us all about it here.

What do I do because I feel like I should, even if it's not the best thing for me?

Maintain the illusion.

My journey at the moment is about living more TRULY. It's gonna take forever but I'm moving that direction. That's what counts right? I know it is but...............

I just have no idea what it will look like and that scares the freakin' hell out of me. Which would be why I've spent this long inside the facade. But it's had more than it's time and I will give it nothing further.

Thank you Sarah for allowing us to share in and learn from your journey.

Just because those guys are married now doesn't mean they'll still be married later. Don't discount the divorced guys who were married to harpies. Any "normal" woman is a cakewalk after that.

I feel just how Rae does. There is no guarantee there will be a happy ending.

I sometimes think in actuarial terms -- like in every class there will be one or two kids who die while in school. (I vividly remember the girl down the hall who was in a car crash freshman year.) Or for every 100 women there will be X who are still single and Y who are widowed and Z who are divorced by age whatever. You can't predict ahead of time, but the numbers are always steady.

It annoys me if people say of course I will meet someone eventually. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. But platitudes are meaningless. I have no evidence I won't be the one whose obituary says she never married and left no children.

This was starkly put when I filled out an organ donor form recently. There was a big spot for next of kin, i.e. the contact person for the donor registry. The first spot was for spouse. Then there was a spot for parents (mine are still alive, but that won't be for much longer). Then children. Then siblings. I have one unmarried sibling. So basically, except for that, there is nobody even closely related enough to put on the donor form!

I see my friends with teenage kids who are starting to have interest from the opposite sex. I feel juvenile and pathetic to be in the same demographic pool as 16-year-olds.

In terms of strategy, I think that Julie is very wise. The idea is to meet people normally but to make it clear you will say yes if they pursue you. In a few recent cases, I was perhaps not as smiley or ebullient or warm as I could have been, and without a firm time and place to meet, the dates fell by the wayside. One guy -- a construction worker I happened to be talking to in the coffee line -- asked me out. He actually doubled back to ask me out. Instead of setting something up right then, I gave him my e-mail address and also told him where I worked. That was guaranteed to intimidate from the get-go, and it did. I didn't hear from him. And he was no doubt way nicer than the guys I usually encounter. Plus, he was interested. And that counts for a whole, whole lot.

I am feeling particularly down because a guy I adore was just engaged last week. When we met six years ago, we got along stupendously well. But I think he quickly decided I was too old and the wrong religion. I can compete on personality and intelligence, but those qualities don't seem to be first on most men's list.

Sarah, I sympathize and I empathize.

I agree that it has very little to do with how amazing and wonderful you are (and I agree that you are). To me it has everything to do with luck and timing. People who try to console you by telling you how great you are seem to be implying that single people in general are not and you are the exception which logically means you will meet someone!! Ridiculous. That needs to be thrown out along with most of the Disney princesses.

Since I'm thinking about songs for today's post, I have a great theme song for you for days like last Sunday: Slow Club's "Giving Up On Love."

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    • L.A. 2009. I’m stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway, listening to Isabella Rosselini on NPR. Isabella, for some reason, mentions that starfish are one of those rare species that can reproduce asexually, and I realize that if I could do that, I wouldn't have to worry about finding a boyfriend/husband. I wouldn’t have to internet date! I wouldn't have to figure out if I want to/can/should have a baby/adopt a baby/child on my own. I wouldn't have to stress about things like FSH levels, or weigh my feelings on in vitro versus adoption. I would just have a baby. Thus began my starfish envy.
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