Dating is a minefield at the best of times but there’s nothing like a global pandemic to splash cold water on our carefully crafted plans and startle us with a harsh reality check of who we are and where we are heading in life.
It’s all too easy to despair and view the current circumstances as a crisis set to doom our already forlorn love lives since the chances of meeting that ever elusive ONE at a Friday night dinner or glitzy party are now painfully dashed. Or, we could rise to the challenge, take a deep breath and embrace this wild time as an unexpected but welcome opportunity to dig deep into our souls and connect with others like never before; a chance to improve ourselves and become the person we would ideally like to meet and date.
A combination of endless swiping and non-stop ‘Jew-dos’ has turned modern dating into a rat race as ferocious and fast paced as corporate trading. Barely have we come home from one date than we are hedging our bets, returning to our comfort zone to seek fresh supply of faces in a sea of ever expanding places. But people are not commodities to be discharged and exchanged when a better deal comes along. Amongst all the perfect pictures and bite sized descriptions, we have lost sight of the beauty and depth that makes each person uniquely attractive. In being too quick to write someone off based on superficial reasons or personal circumstances, we may be missing out on something special and potentially life changing.
After a colourful and chequered dating history, I have discovered that the best things about people are not what’s gleaned from their pose or bio but are only learned from really engaging beyond surface level chat and getting to understand what makes someone tick at their core; their motivations, fears, cherished memories and most hair raising moments; the parts of their personality you could never decode from one or two superficial meet ups. Figuring people out takes time, patience and investment. Taking that approach, there may be no such thing as a bad date. Should we not consider the person across the table (or zoom window) our soulmate, that doesn’t mean we cannot take something away from the conversation, share an interesting insight and hear another perspective. Sometimes we may be surprised to learn there is more that unites us that sets us apart; if only we bring an open mind, empathy and non-judgmental attitude to our interactions.
I made the fateful mistake of marrying at 22 years old because it was fashionable, all my friends were getting hitched and it seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I was hopelessly naïve, had no real life experience and no mature understanding of just how complex, multi-faceted and wonderfully intriguing human beings are with all their quirks, charms and flaws. I rushed into what I assumed would be a lifelong commitment without truly grasping the enormity of what lifelong represents. Did I picture us caring for each other in our old age as my dear grandparents doted on one another for over 50 years? Did I reflect on what kind of parent he would be to our future children and to what extent our core beliefs and values aligned? I took him at face value because he seemingly ticked my boxes and seemed to come from a similar background to me. He told me the things I wanted to hear and sold me the dream I wanted to see.
It didn’t take long to realise the person I had sacrificed everything for didn’t exist beyond the superficial flowers and hearts of a whirlwind romance. I had married the image I had built in my mind rather than the actual person before me, in much the same way he probably made radically false assumptions about me.
Over a decade later, having navigated a few more painful learning curves, I’ve learned that partnership and marriage are based on friendship, compassion and a deep understanding. No matter how someone looks or what they do for a living, if you don’t reach beyond the surface, you have nothing sustainable.
So before we discount someone because their pictures don’t appeal or immediately assume they are not ‘our type’ let’s change our perspective and learn to value and appreciate one another for the wealth of experience and life lessons that enrich each and every one of us.
Being vulnerable enough to open ourselves emotionally to others and invest in the process of seeing and being seen for who we truly are on the inside takes courage and maturity but what better time to test our strength and bravery than now. And who knows, it may take these strangest of times to lead us to the most surprising of outcomes.