This morning, I read this piece in the NY Post about online lives vs. reality. What we post on social media vs. how we actually live. And how our friends’ posts can make us feel anxious or depressed about our own lives as we inevitably compare ourselves to others. I am definitely guilty of this across the board. My posts on Facebook and Instagram don’t necessarily reflect how I feel at the moment AND I constantly compare myself to others. It’s easier to post something lighthearted like, “I can’t wait to go home and take off my bra” than it is to post something terrible about your day like, “Well, I THOUGHT B3 and I were getting back together but then he made me split the check at the Hooters in Costa Mesa, so I guess not?”
This is where my anxiety lies. I look at posts of people happy in relationships, engaged or married, and they make it look easy. Like it was easy to meet someone, and it just worked. And their relationship is perfect, and I can’t find that. (Side note – don’t stop posting these things. It is important for us cynics to believe love is possible.)
I remember very vividly sitting in a meeting at work, in 2008, and being stressed. I wasn’t stressed about the topic of the meeting, I was stressed about how I wasn’t married yet. At 27. And now, at 34, I am no closer. Within a year of that meeting, I was sitting at a bar with a college friend who said to me, “you know you’re going to be 35 and single.” While that comment was hurtful enough, it was also said with the implication that being 35 and single is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to a human.
To make matters worse, I am now second guessing every single decision I have ever made because if I had done one or two things differently, maybe I wouldn’t have lost the opportunity to have my father walk me down the aisle. As I sat in the ICU on the day he died, I knew it was my fault we’d never share that moment. And there was nothing I could do to change it.
Maybe I’m not trying hard enough. Sure, I’m on a dating site, but yesterday I got a FIRST message from a guy and all it said was, “do you want to see my penis?” (Hard pass – pun not intended)
And then while I’m trying not to try too hard because it’s supposed to be easy with the right person, there’s all the advice I get that is well meaning but unhelpful:
you slept with him too quickly
you didn’t sleep with him soon enough and he thought you didn’t like him so he moved on
you’re too picky
you’re not picky enough
don’t text him first
don’t wait for him to text you
you have to wait at least 17 minutes to respond but if you wait 17 minutes and ten seconds he’s already met someone else
if he hasn’t committed after the third date, run away
you run away too fast
don’t pressure him
but if he doesn’t like you right away, he’s just not that into you
online dating sucks
get a hobby
stand up for yourself
don’t be a bitch
you’re acting too casual
stop going to Chili’s!
I am not writing this for “likes” or sympathy. I am writing this to say that if you also feel anxious or depressed or like you’re not good enough – know you are not alone. Know that it’s easier to post a picture of Newport Beach on Thanksgiving with the hashtag #luckiest than to admit you feel like a failure because you’re not with the guy who made you think, for at least a brief period, that things would be different, and work out. Know that if you feel in any way close to what I feel, that you can come talk to me. And bring wine.