The Advantages of Deprivation

I have been undergoing a little experiment with regards to dating, which is to not date. To not actively seek, to be content in my single-dom. I am so tired of the online thing. And I have given up trying to make eye contact with any guy in this city. Possibly, I am purposefully creating a little hedonic adaptation in my life, something I just read about over at The Happiness Project, a sort of law of diminishing returns, where you adapt to new circumstances until they become normal. You get a certain amount of time before something new becomes something old. Dating, for me has definitely fallen into that category. It has, after all, been y.e.a.r.s.

I have this theory that after a loss (divorce or death), you kind of go through a wild, animalistic stage. I think it has to do with trying to replace intimacy with sex. Eventually you realize it doesn’t really work, though I have to say it sure is fun for a while. It is possible of course, that I simply got through my thirties.

What I am finding now though, is this kind of “settling in” stage. I am content with almost all aspects of my life. I am over my wild stage. It got old. And now, as Gretchen talks about, the best cure for hedonic adaptation is deprivation. I figure if I deprive myself of dating, then perhaps when something really great comes along, I will appreciate it all the more.

The odd thing is, I am finally feeling OK with being single. Before, I would moon on and on about wanting someone in my life, someone to share experiences with, someone to give me The Look. But these days I am beginning to understand why many women, once widowed, remain that way.

I get to avoid:

1. juggling of kid schedules
2. suspicious kids who don’t trust anything that happens after they go to bed
3. ricocheting emotions
4. swooning over love horoscopes

Plus, I get

1. super buff by virtue of the crush on the trainer at the gym
2. to watch Grays Anatomy (or whatever girly show I want) without interruption
3. the sonicare all to myself
4. the two-person closet all to myself
5. to avoid ever having to watch a football game

Of course, if someone were to come along who could deal with my kid/widow/9-11 circumstances, liked Grays Anatomy, had his own toothbrush, and didn’t like football, then perhaps I would consider giving him a drawer in my closet. Just one.

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  1. dadshouse November 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    I gave up online dating years ago. It's a waste of time. It promotes idealistic delusions, followed by bouts of depression when said ideal doesn't manifest. eHarmony was even named by Time magazine one of the worst websites or 2007 for it's "power to cause utter despair."

    As for giving up on the search – that's great! Because if you find contentment without searching, you'll find the love and joy you want. Who knows, maybe a man will manifest for you. They say we find things when we stop looking.

  2. Crash Course Widow November 3, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Glad to hear you're sick of the online dating thing too. I tried eHarmony twice and DETESTED it. Violently. But here it is, a year or two later, and I'm sort of bored, sometimes lonely, and I sure as hell don't meet any single men in my typical day/week/life…so I find myself thinking, Well, maybe I'd give it a try again…only maybe this time. Which I'm sure I'd hate just as much, and I keep telling myself that maybe being single isn't so bad after all.

    Who knows? Glad to hear your side of it too. =)

  3. anniegirl1138 November 3, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    I don't think there is a straight line between our wants/destiny and our getting that/arrival.

  4. JD November 3, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Hmmmm, I hate to tell all of you NOT to do because I find it utterly disappointing myself, but of the 6 weddings I went to in the past year and a half, half of the couples met on And I know of few couples who met on Match and are now engaged.

    I do believe the secret to meeting anyone is to be so happy in the place you are that you attract the opposite sex to you like a moth to light. This is why so many people meet while on vacation. You glow. People like glowy things.

    Also, men tell me they can spot sad, mopey girls a mile away. They can sense the sadness in a Match profile, too.

    I sense in your post, Abby, a resignment. That you have resigned yourself to taking a break from the disappointment, sort of as a last resort and you are making the most of it. And I can relate to this because I've been there, very recently in fact.

    I think I'm a kick ass woman who can't seem to meet anyone I'm interested in … yet. I took a break from online dating too. Instead, I keep working on myself (aren't trainers the absolute best? I am skinnier than ever after 2 years of it) and getting out there (because you won't meet anyone sitting on your couch unless you have a party and make everyone bring great guys) and I find that when I'm feeling most blissed out, men flock to me. Good God, Abby, I have dates with 2 unbelieveably wonderful men this week who I met on Halloween. One is probably 11 years younger than me. The other is 14 or so. Probably won't lead anywhere, but still….

    I'm confident that one of these days I'll attract my match and I'm confident you, too, will meet yours and we'll look back on these angsty times and wished we'd enjoyed them more.

    Rooting for you!

  5. Roads November 4, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    Hey, that's one more drawer than I'm allowed…or even two.

    Great denial, Abby. A man is surely just around the corner when you can live without one, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Gray's Anatomy? House is much more the territory, I think. But that's how this goes, I know.

  6. Jill November 4, 2009 at 10:41 pm

    Oh Abby. After my husband died, I dated furiously. Only now I realize that it was easier for me to imagine an illusory world where I could once again have everything I just lost than to really look at how sad I was and how much I missed my husband. It's taken me almost four years to really think about KEN..who he was…what we had…how good I had it. I am taking a break from dating too. I'm glad that I am accepting my current reality and I open myself up to possibility whether that's forever single, remarried, or something in between. Acceptance. Possibility. The good that can be found in the unknown. This is where I live now.

  7. BigLittleWolf November 5, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    The online thing is (eventually) oppressive, in some areas more than others. Been there, done that, did it again, did it again, not doing it now.

    Not dating isn't not living, but it is a kind of quiet place. Sometimes it's a good quiet. Sometimes, quite the opposite. You had a good marriage; you have something to measure by. That's a good thing. And a break is a good thing.

    Divorced women feel these things as well, but we carry a different sort of ending that – for many of us – continues to wreak havoc for many years after. The concept of a good match is more difficult (for some of us); the exhaustion in trying to be "out there" again, and juggle that with making a living and raising children – sometimes, it's just too much.

    So you take a break. For as long as you need to. And find happiness in small things, as best you can.

  8. Widow in the Middle November 6, 2009 at 10:29 am

    I think that a piece of all of this involves not only accepting where we are and not fighting it but also about truly embracing life fully at whatever point we are – with a guy, without, remarried, dating, engaged, taking a break…

    I never went through a wild dating phase after being widowed (too busy with the kids). It was 2 1/2 years before I went on a date. I'm also one of those who mooned about being without a guy/husband, etc. So I ended up remarrying quickly after a whirlwind four month courtship, which unfortunately did not work out. There are so many complications to widowhood, especially with children. My remarriage/divorce has been absolutely heartbreaking but I've faced it and am coming out of that tunnel of darkness. So, I guess what I'd say is that it is not always greener on the other side. Every relationship situation has its challenges. In the end, it is up to us to face life fully and find peace, happiness and contentment whatever our circumstances.

  9. Janine (txmomx6) November 7, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Good to hear that you, too (and CCW) are sick of the on line thing. I gave it the ol' college try but just didn't care for it, so I'm in the midst of canceling that membership. I, too, am deciding to be comfortable in my singleness. Of course I wouldn't turn away an almost-perfect man, but I'm not going to be searching for him.
    Thanks for sharing …. it was a great post.

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