When do I know I'm ready?

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When do I know I'm ready? Empty When do I know I'm ready?

Post by DoubtfulGuest on Sat Aug 01, 2015 7:51 pm

Here's my first thread, for some background (just so I don't repeat myself too much) http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t860-dateability-and-jerkbrain-thoughts

I'm in an odd spot where I kind of want to date (at least casually), but I'm really hesitant, mainly because I'm worried I don't "bring enough to the table". Advice just feels overwhelming; I react to some of it as if there's a million things I need to change right now to have any sort of positive experience, and I don't know where to begin. I'm (presumably?) not physically attractive to most people, and I worry that unless I commit to undergoing some intense fitness regimen, my only option is to compensate for my looks (because I-presumably-can't expect anyone else to be attracted to me initially) by being the most incredible human being I possibly can be at all times, and I have to slip up for a moment, it's my fault and I deserve whatever happens. I know this is (obviously) an exaggerated standard, but I also don't want to be unrealistic about my chances, or worse, entitled. I even worry (based on comments I've read by people online stating that single men often have overly high standards and are always pining for people "out of their league") that maybe I'm not interested in the right women, or that anyone I find attractive is, by default, "out of my league"...and that I'm embracing a double standard by being interested in women who are more attractive (physically and mentally) than I am (but I don't know what my "league" is! I don't know what "leagues" other people are in! I know there's no such thing as leagues in a strict, concrete sense, but there is at least this idea of people of similar attractiveness being attracted to one another, and I honestly don't know which people are of similar attractiveness to myself). I don't know if any of this is realistic, and it probably sounds screwy to people who don't over-analyze, but these are the sorts of thoughts that spin around in my head when I think about whether I want to set up an OKCupid account.

I have a few vague goals already: one is building a more satisfying social life, and another is feeling more energized and passionate about (something outside of school and taking in material made by other people-books, movies, comics, etc-all stuff I haven't produced myself). The social stuff...eh, well, I'm working on it, but it's slow going. I have way too much unstructured time until I'm back on my regular college schedule, and it's difficult, when other people are working and so on, to find anyone to spend time with regularly during the day. I've improved tremendously in terms of accepting invitations, but that's still only a few social activities per week. I'm dipping my toes into Meetup, but there are some activities that I'm not sure I'm that comfortable with right now, such as some of the bigger group events. I used to have several female friends, but since I moved to a new area recently, I've had trouble connecting with any female people, except for one friend who is in a relationship (and I like both her and her boyfriend; I just feel like a third wheel hanging out with them sometimes).

I sometimes feel like if I can't just name my "passion" right off the bat, there's something wrong with me, and I have difficulty committing to a project without there being some sort of structure or guideline in place (as in a deadline, or something) and without anyone else's involvement. I've always had diverse interests, but I've always been more of a "thinker" than a "doer", and struggled with translating my interests into concrete skills that other people are likely to value. "Lack of motivation" just feels..morally wrong, somehow, and I end up feeling tremendous guilt over not feeling motivated...which ends up hurting my motivation. I don't have any trouble taking care of my day to day needs, keeping my apartment neat, keeping up with bills, eating fairly well, etc...but that all feels like basic, bare minimum stuff, not enough to excite anyone. I'm sure some people remember that "Cracked" article that was passed around online a few years ago...the "Harsh Truths" one...which I read as "unless you produce something quantifiable at a sufficient skill level, you're a worthless human being and deserve to feel bad about yourself" (which probably wasn't the author's intent-I know he wanted it to be some sort of inspirational thing, but I don't always do well with "tough love" advice). I know, it's just "Cracked", I should consider the source (I remember when "Cracked" was still a poor man's "Mad Magazine", and considering the glory days of "Mad" were already long behind it when I was a kid, that's not too flattering) but even thinking about it makes me stomach feel a little queasy.

Out of the concerns I've brought up, what, other than working on reducing my anxiety and confidence levels (which I am working on), should I be focusing on? Do I sound like I'll be "dateable" after doing a little work for the next couple months or so, or do I sound more severely flawed? Whenever I'm in a social setting, I always work to keep it cool, and I don't talk about my anxiety or lack of confidence, but I don't know if I'll ever be this bold, hyper-extroverted "life of the party type", and because I'm a late bloomer in some aspects, it may be a while before I "have my sh*t together" in the way many other people my age do. If it makes any difference, both my current therapist and the one I was seeing before I moved have both said I'm much too hard on myself and my standards for myself are too high. I'm still a little skeptical about that last part, though.
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Post by Bumble on Sun Aug 02, 2015 11:35 am

The blind leading the blind here but it sounds like you are way overanalyzing this. I don't think anyone truly feels "ready" to start dating.. and I don't think you need to meet a bunch of criteria either. People of all shapes and sizes, in all different places in their lives, are out there dating so you can, too, probably.

How? I'd tell you if I knew.

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Post by readertorider on Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:33 pm

Agree with Bumble that it sounds like you may be overanalyzing things. Wanting to date or sign up for an OKC account seems like a good reason to make one or date. I'd say how you feel about procrastination/passions/readiness/social life/whatever is only relevant if you expect having a date will fix these things which it does not sound like you do.

My experience is that articles like the ones you mention are ostensibly meant to address the men who are pretty self-satisfied but are angry about the fact that they don't have a girlfriend yet even though they are polite/employed/intelligent/homeowners/whatever. I doubt that the articles actually appeal to those men, and suspect the majority of readers are a combination of guys who aren't like those men (though perhaps a proportion might have become like them) and women who like to commiserate over, "yeah, I've met that dude". If you're willing to take a break from dating if/when you're frustrated, then please go forth and date--different people have different ideals for a potential date/partner/SO/whatever and being discouraged by one author's blueprint of what to do or not to do probably isn't helpful.

Maybe you can consider what you're looking for in a potential date and use that to help settle your mind? Do you care if your date has a passion they can roll off the tip of their tongue? Do you want to date someone who's a social butterfly? To me personally holding yourself to a much higher standard than you do others seems like a situation ripe for either condescension or pedestalling and many people have different values anyway.

FWIW at my college many people were dating for the first time. It wasn't so much "this is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with" (though for some people it was) as "you seem like a reasonably fun person let's try out this dating thing together and see what it's like".
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Post by reboot on Sun Aug 02, 2015 1:44 pm

Maybe leave it up to your potential dates to decide if you bring enough to the table? Sign up for an account (if you want help writing it post a link here: http://nerdlounge.canadian-forum.com/t44-the-same-old-stories-dating-profile-message-advice ) and take it from there.

My FWIW matches the one above. Most people in college are just dating casually and not really looking for something forever. Many are not very experienced with dating. And everyone is inexperienced with dating as an adult (as opposed to a HS kid with parental oversight)
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Post by DoubtfulGuest on Sun Aug 02, 2015 7:48 pm

readertorider wrote:Maybe you can consider what you're looking for in a potential date and use that to help settle your mind? Do you care if your date has a passion they can roll off the tip of their tongue? Do you want to date someone who's a social butterfly?

Well, when you put it that way...I couldn't care less about either of those things. Honestly, while neither of those are negative traits, I feel as if I'd feel much more comfortable with someone who wasn't a social butterfly, and wasn't hyper-focused on one specific thing. A woman similar to myself, in terms of being uncertain of where she wants to go in life (but generally knowing who she is) who may even have experience with being anxious or depressed but is willing to work through it like I am, sounds great, honestly (as long as this hypothetical person is emotionally stable and responsible, and all the other stuff that factors into attraction for me). I'd mostly care if we seemed to mesh well together and had a similar sense of humor and agreed on basic issues. I do have some hangups about my appearance, but I know many women do as well.

I don't want a partner to fix my life, just to add something nice to it...that isn't to say every aspect of my life is completely perfect, and that being single is the only thing I'd like to change, but surely that's true for most people. I know I have a tendency to focus on advice that seems overly critical, rather than the more positive advice that I sometimes automatically dismiss. Plus, like readertorider said, perhaps there are subtle differences between the target audience of some advice pieces and myself-a lot of the articles that come across as more negative are aimed at men who don't believe they are doing anything wrong, whereas myself, at my lowest, am going to assume I'm doing almost everything wrong. So...thinking of that way is a relief.

These responses have been reassuring. I've had this idea built up in my head of having to be all but perfect before trying to date, and while some of this introspection has been a good thing, there's a point where I've been putting off trying to date for so long that I've made it a bigger deal than it had to be. I can't really complain about my success rate, since I haven't asked anyone out or shown overt interest in anyone for maybe...3 years. So maybe I'm not as unattractive as I assume-I've kind of just gone off portrayals of men in media, and I don't have much in common with idealized portrayals of attractive men (physically or in terms of personality). I know this isn't the most realistic way to evaluate your own attractiveness, but I'm not sure what the alternative is, other than actual experience, and in order to have actual experience, I'd have to actually "put myself out there"...

One thing about dating as a student that I'm a little concerned about is age. I'm 29...I know there are other non-trads around, but we often blend in. I'm a little apprehensive about how I'd be viewed by someone around my age who finished college much earlier, but maybe reframing that as "a woman who feels strongly opposed to dating a man who is in college is probably not a good match for me" is a better way to think of it, rather than "I don't measure up to such-and-such person". Phew!
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Post by Prajnaparamita on Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:25 pm

Doubtful, I'm not sure how reassuring this might be, but just in my anecdotal evidence women are perfectly willing to date non-traditional college aged men. I don't know if you're willing to date traditionally college-aged women, but when I was 20 I dated a guy who was 34 and returning to school, and my best friend at 22 dated a guy who was 30 and also an older student at her college. Now admittedly neither of those relationships ended well, but that had nothing to do with the fact that they were non-traditional students! (Rather, my ex was a bipolar alcoholic who refused to seek treatment, and her ex was a biphobic asshole who slut-shamed her, but hey, toxic relationships can happen at any age!) Age or notches on the life experience belt might be a huge deal to some, but others likely won't care at all.

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Post by DoubtfulGuest on Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:04 am

Prajnaparamita wrote:Doubtful, I'm not sure how reassuring this might be, but just in my anecdotal evidence women are perfectly willing to date non-traditional college aged men. I don't know if you're willing to date traditionally college-aged women, but when I was 20 I dated a guy who was 34 and returning to school, and my best friend at 22 dated a guy who was 30 and also an older student at her college. Now admittedly neither of those relationships ended well, but that had nothing to do with the fact that they were non-traditional students! (Rather, my ex was a bipolar alcoholic who refused to seek treatment, and her ex was a biphobic asshole who slut-shamed her, but hey, toxic relationships can happen at any age!) Age or notches on the life experience belt might be a huge deal to some, but others likely won't care at all.

It's nice to hear, thanks! I just have to fight that impulse to immediately assume I'm an exception for such-and-such reason. Of course, I'd have no trouble with dating someone closer to traditional college age, assuming it felt right. It would obviously depend on the person. She'd have to be more mature than I was at 21-ish (I feel like 21 is a good minimum age)...I don't want to go into a bunch of detail regarding my overblown concerns about dating anyone around traditional college age, since A. It's probably a bunch of anxiety-fueled assumptions and generalizations that wouldn't add anything to the conversation and B. This is all hypothetical anyway (because there's no one I'm interested in right now, regardless of age), but as long as it's not considered creepy or, I don't know, a sign of immaturity to be interested in someone more than five years younger than me, then it shouldn't be an issue.

The notches on the life experience belt worries me. I just have to make sure I don't make it a big deal by apologizing for it. It's easy to read a bunch of advice online and then get this idea that other people are hyper-critical when it comes to potential relationships, whereas in real life, I tend to find most people, at least the ones I choose to spend much time around, pretty reasonable and not terribly judgmental regarding aspects of other people's lives that don't directly concern them.
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