Dater X: Single Loneliness Rears Its Ugly Head

I spotted Brown Eyes across the street, leaning against a wall outside the restaurant. He looked adorable in his thick scarf, fiddling with his iPod. As I walked up, he smiled and greeted me with a sweet kiss on the lips. It was the kind of hello we’ve never given each other before—after all, for the past two years we’ve been just friends. “This date is gonna be good,” I thought.

Cut to an hour and a half later.

Sometimes my single loneliness feels like the absence of all the men I’ve dated before. It’s like a ball of dough rolled on a counter, a cookie cutter shape punched out for every man I miss.

We’d finished our dinner and were discussing whether we wanted dessert, and if we did, the merits of the chocolate cake versus the berry crumble. It was the kind of conversation we’d had all night—a lot of chatter about not really anything. Brown Eyes grabbed my hand across the table. For some reason, I wanted him to let go. Something about this date felt so … forced.

It continued that way for the rest of the night. As we left the comedy club, we were laughing—but because we felt like we were supposed to be. As we said goodbye, I couldn’t help but notice that we’d downgraded over the course of the night from a kiss to a hug. I felt like I finally had my answer—Brown Eyes and I really are just friends.

I guess I’ve known that all along—I’m not usually someone who isn’t sure if I like someone. I’m usually all in (in which case I want to see them and talk to them lots) or all out (in which case I feel a little repulsed by their touch). When it comes to romance, I don’t exist in the “maybe” realm.

Aside from my failed date with Brown Eyes, it’s been a few weeks since since I’ve gone out with anyone. And it’s been since weeks before that that I’ve felt that certain connection with someone. And it’s left me feeling an emotion no single person likes to admit to. I, Dater X, feel lonely.

Now, I am well aware that loneliness is a universal emotion. There are many different types of it, and we all feel it at different times. I’ve been in relationships and felt lonely, for sure, when I felt like someone wasn’t getting me, or we weren’t communicating well, or they were traveling all the time. But I do think there is a unique brand of loneliness experienced by a single person. Especially a single person like myself, who wishes on every witching minute and every fallen eyelash for love. (I can’t believe I just admitted that.)

Single loneliness is the sadness that comes with not having a person to tell all the details of your day, from the annoying thing your co-worker said to your finding a $5 bill on the sidewalk. It’s the sadness of having to text around to see which of your friends is free rather than having that default person you spend time with. It is the sound of your phone not ringing, the look of no new emails in your inbox.

Sometimes my single loneliness feels like the absence of all the men I’ve dated before. Even if I haven’t thought about them in a while, I start missing The Architect’s biting one-liners, the calming presence of Tall Guy, those blissful mornings with The Juggler. I feel like a ball of dough rolled on a counter, a cookie cutter shape punched out for every man I miss.

For the past week, I’ve been able to shake the lonely feeling for stretches, but it keeps coming back. I’ve felt its tug at work and while watching a TV marathon at home, even though my adorable dog was curled up next to me. I’ve felt it at dinners with friends—though I sometimes am reluctant to admit it because I don’t want to be that girl, the one who needs a relationship. Heck, even during an amazingly fun night out with friends on Saturday, I felt the loneliness creep in. I excused myself early when I felt tears welling up. Nothing feels more isolating than feeling lonely in a packed room.

I know how I feel right now is temporary. I know that I will feel better, probably even soon. My relationship to loneliness is the same one I have with darts. Sometimes, I am the best dart thrower around—the finned pieces of metal going exactly where I want them to, throw after throw. Other times, I am a dart spaz and can barely even hit the board. It’s difficult to get out of a klutz phase if I let the frustration build. But eventually, if I can relax and change something subtle—where I’m aiming, how I’m standing, the way I flick my wrist—I can get my mojo back.

And so with this loneliness, I’m going to relax. I’m going to treat myself well—take bubble baths, maybe get a massage, or cook s’mores (my favorite treat of all time) tonight in the microwave. I’m going to keep heading out to do the stuff I want to do—see friends, movies, bands, etc. I’m going to keep pushing myself to talk to new men while I’m out—and to not feel discouraged if they quickly reveal themselves to be (a) attached (b) gay or (c) a despicable person. Hey, it’s just a part of the game. I’m going to keep writing guys online who pique my interest, even if I’m not getting the kind of response I’d like. I’ll just look at this as a down moment in my journey to find my green zebra.

Hopefully, next week I’ll have something much more fun to write.