Should I Learn To Be Ok With Being Single? After All, Women Seem to Be Perfectly Content That Way
I’m a late 20s feller who’s been trying to bow out of the dating game. My most recent relationship ended about a year ago when I realized I probably wasn’t making her happy and it was an amicable split and we’re still tight.
My life has really taken off this past year between advancing my career, huge success in my sport and moving to a new city. I had toyed with the idea of dating again but decided against it when I learned how many women are happier single than being in relationships. Every woman in my own family never remarried after divorcing and were all happier for it, plus I’ve known many more women who won’t date anymore because they feel better on their own not to mention the heaps of research showing single women to be happier than any other group and it ain’t even close. Even my own ex ain’t dated since we split and that means something.
All of that’s fine by me, but recently I had a few women ask *me* out for some godawful reason and even though I also felt a spark I couldn’t take them up on it because there ain’t no sense putting someone through that if they’re just gonna be better off on their own on the other side anyhow. I ain’t saying they can’t date but I don’t wanna be the one they gotta suffer through. I changed gyms at one point because one of them was there and I didn’t want her to feel obligated to keep asking me to make me feel better.
I thrive on connection and lean on my longtime bros a lot. I want to get to a point where I don’t feel that spark when women ask me out to avoid a bunch of needless hassle. If they want something from me I just want them to say it instead of going through the dog and pony show of feigning interest when there ain’t none.
What do you recommend for reaching that contentment?
– Hardcore High Roller
OK HHR, you didn’t intend to do it but you just put fifty cents into the “insert coin, get rant” machine.
Every few days, it seems, I – and other advice columnists and folks who enjoy reading such things – come across folks who have decided that they’re not going to do a thing because they’ve read too many stories/studies/viral tweets/tiktoks/whatever about how Thing X is bad, actually. The problem is that “Thing X is Bad” tends to really be “Headline and Shallow Reading of The Abstract Is Bad, But If You Actually Go Into It and Read For Context, It’s A Very Different Issue Than What You Assume” and unfortunately, reading for context or understanding how to compartmentalize is a lost art. And so you get folks who see the horde of viral posts about “A Creepy Man Had The Temerity To Talk To Me” or TikToks where folks complain about dating while going on bad dates for Content and assume that this is a universal issue that they need to take onboard and thus decide that they just cant Do The Thing.
But there’re more than a few issues with this. First and foremost is that it’s very easy to forget that just because something seems omnipresent online doesn’t mean that it’s actually a universal THING out in the physical world. Algorithmically driven content of the sort that social media thrives on means that you’re going to be seeing more of the stories, posts or videos that you interact with. As a result, if you’re prone to clicking on stories that reinforce the idea that women find All Men Who Approach Them To Be Creepy, then yeah, you’re going to see a lot of them. But that’s not the same as this being an established fact of the world or a viewpoint held by most women; it’s just the thing that some line of code decided you wanted to see. But see it often enough, over and over again, and it’s not surprising that you come to believe it. One of the quirks of human psychology is that if we see something repeated enough times, we tend to take it onboard because repetition = authenticity to our reptile hindbrains
Then there’s the mis-reading and not being able to separate yourself from what’s being said. Much like the whole “Not All Men” thing that refuses to die, when folks are complaining about a particular behavior or trait that you’re not doing but people similar to you are, then you should be able to step back and realize they’re not talking about you. They’re talking about the individuals who are doing that specific, unwanted thing, and if you’re not doing The Thing, then you’re free to cluck your tongue, shake your head ruefully and go on about your day, continuing to Not Do The Thing.
But most of all – and the thing that is one of my eternal pet peeves when it comes to dating and dating advice – is the combination of misreading, abdication of responsibility and dressing things up in an air moral righteousness and uprightness, rather than being upfront and honest about what one is actually choosing to do.
Such is the case with the stories of how marriage and dating as institutions aren’t a great arrangement for women. The reason why women’s happiness tends to decrease when they’re in relationships is that men tend to be shitty partners to their girlfriends and wives. Divisions of labor, including emotional labor, tend to fall disproportionately on women in the relationships. Women often find themselves saddled with being not just cruise director and events coordinator for their male partners but often end up in the role of sole source of support and emotional intimacy, with minors in amateur therapist and private confessor. And, of course, there’s the ever constant push-pull between “be the girlboss who has it ALL, no not like that!” and “no you fool you’re supposed to be tradwives who crank out kids until your uterus gives out now get back to cleaning, Cinderelly” and it’s not that hard to see why a lot of women get really goddamn sick of dating or relationships with shitty men.
So, honestly, the answer here is less “stop dating, dudes, it’s bad for women” and more “have you considered raising your game and not being a shitty partner?”
It’s somewhat akin to a recent Psychology Today article about how what men think makes them creepy differs rather drastically from what women consider to be “creepy behavior”, or the furor not that long ago about a study that posited that men were having a harder time finding partners because women’s standards had risen… but read into the article and the “rising standards” were “be emotionally available” and “be better at communicating”.
But a lot of folks don’t actually care that much about the actual meat of the story. The folks who cite that – or the “you can never approach women without being a creeper” or who complain about their misunderstandings of the Pareto Principle or how women have it “easier” on dating apps – are giving excuses for why they don’t want to Do The Thing, when what they really should be saying is that they’ve chosen not to. They have decided that they don’t want to try any more or that they don’t want to – or feel like they shouldn’t have to – put in effort that would change the math on their particular circumstances. Which, in and of itself is a legitimate choice. If you decide that you don’t want to do whatever work you might need to do to start being someone that women want to date, more power to you. It’s not a choice I necessarily agree with for obvious reasons – my job is literally to help people do that work – but everyone gets to make choices and my opinion about it matters not one whit.
But dressing it up as a moral imperative or something being done as a Noble Sacrifice is just intellectual dishonesty and insulting besides. The very least you can do is give a Bartleby-esque “I would prefer not to,” rather than giving an excuse for it, if only for yourself. Because hey, remember that thing I said about how repetition builds belief? Well, that goes with the things you tell yourself or the things that your community repeats to you over and over again. This is part of how incels get caught in feeback loops that incentivize staking out more extreme positions; the constant refrains of “women only like guys who pass THESE phrenology tests” start as excuses that become dogma that become proof that women deserve to be punished because REASONS.
Now, the point of all of this seeming digression, HHR, is that you want to stop dating and to be satisfied with making that choice, so that you can be happy being single. Well, being honest with yourself and your reasoning is a big part of that. Becuase here’s the thing: if you’re going to frame this as being forced out of dating instead of choosing not to date because you don’t want to bother? Then you’re going to be setting yourself up for a yearning need that you can’t fulfill. You’ll have painted yourself into a corner where, like Tantalus, you’re denied the thing you want that continually dangles just out of reach, rather than looking around, packing a bag and fucking off for parts unknown where you can choose how you want to handle things.
So, in your case specifically, HHR, if you are truly deciding that you don’t want to date any more because you sincerely believe that women are happier being single than ever dating again, then it’s likely a good idea to at least examine that belief a bit more thoroughly. Ask those women of your acquaintence whether they truly never want to date again, if there are no circumstances under which they would ever get into a relationship with someone ever… or was that statement a matter of hyperbole while they get off the merry-go-round to recoup their energy, change their priorities or adjust how they go about looking for relationships, and you only heard part of the story. Similarly, read beyond the headline and lede of those viral stories, actually look at what the meat of the complaint says and determine if maybe, just maybe, you’re letting your confirmation bias get in the way.
It may well be that you’re shooting yourself in the foot, rather than actually making an informed and rational decision.
But if it ultimately comes down to “Look, I don’t like dating, I’m not getting results I want and I don’t want to keep trying”, then you’ll actually be a lot happier owning that. At the very least, you don’t have to continually justify the choice; it’s hard to argue with “I didn’t care for it and so I’ve decided to stop doing it”. Just as importantly, however, is what making that statement says about you. What it does is reinforce your sense of agency and choice. You have decided that you are checking out of the game, making the conscious decision that you are going to prioritize other needs. It’s giving up, sure… but you’re giving up in the same way that Martha Jones gives up on loving The Doctor; she looks at it, realizes it’s going to be a bad scene for her and she chooses to leave under her own power, before things can get worse. When you can say “Yeah, I looked at things and decided to ‘nope’ out,” you’re saying that you’ve weighed the choices and found that this option would be the best choice for you, and that’s a good thing. Prioritizing non-romantic and non-sexual relationships over trying to chase something that only makes you unhappy? That’s a solid choice.
Yeah, there’ll be people who can’t grok the decision to just be all “peace out, cub scout” from the whole dating scene and actually mean it, and who’ll nag you about how you need to just get in there and try again. There’re always going to be people like that. But as I said: this is where you reach down, embrace your inner scrivener and tell them “I would prefer not to”.
Just as importantly, though, is that choosing to not pursue relationships gives you a permission structure to change your mind. Instead of reinforcing the idea that this is a thing you can’t have, you have put yourself in a place where, if the itch gets bad enough that you decide to try again, you don’t have to unwind however many months or years of rationale. You don’t have to backpedal on all those posts and conversations and videos about how dating is awful and nobody of conscience should do it, nor do you have to break the belief you imposed on yourself that you can’t date. You can just say “well, I decided at the time that I was done trying. Now circumstances have changed and so my decision has changed, and I’m willing to give it a shot.”
And just as being honest about why you’ve decided to stop trying to date is a matter of reinforcing your agency, that same agency is what allows you to grow, change and improve. You’re reminding yourself that you have far more control over your life and its direction than it can feel, and that you have the capacity for growth and improvement. Compare that to the bitter crabs-in-a-bucket misery that the incel community relies on, requiring that everyone constantly validate the helplessness of everyone else, lest they have to accept the consequences of their own choices and decisions.
Choosing to stop doing something until you decide to start again – if ever – is going to be a much more reliable path to contentment and satisfaction than trying to craft a narrative that this is something thrust upon you by the fickle finger of fate.
Plus, it means you don’t end up looking like a jackass by saying that women only feign interest in you because they want something besides your company or presence in their lives. Which, honestly, ain’t a good look on anyone.
So if you have chosen to stop trying to date, go with God. Focus on finding things that fill your life with contentment and satisfaction, build strong, demonstrative and emotionally intimate friendships with folks and find or build yourself a community. Find ways to be part of something that’s bigger than just yourself.
But let that be your actual decision, rather than dressing it up in drag that allows you to decide to give up without having to say that you’re giving up.
This post was previously published on Doctornerdlove.com and is republished on Medium.
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