Taking the plunge

It’s official. I’m dating again.

I don’t mean dating anyone in particular – now that would be news – but rather I’m back in the dating pool, after some time spent sitting on the sidelines, wrapped up in a robe and flip-flops, looking on as the other swimmers splash around and not even daring to dip my toe in the water.

In November, I blogged that I had called off the search for a partner, husband and father to the children I still (yes still) hope to have. This was a conscious decision to take a leave of absence from the dating game, following a couple of brief relationships that had gone awry and had brought up lots of “issues”.

Well, I’ve done a little bit of exploring around those issues and I have some answers. I’ve identified some self-defeating patterns of behaviour that seem to throw a spanner in the works of any romantic relationship and I’m doing my best to understand them. Of course, I’ve no idea whether I’ll be able to put what I’ve learned into practice. But I won’t know unless I try. And I’m ready to try.

Of course, I might be wrong. I might not be ready. I might need more time to understand myself. But then will I ever be ready? And how will I know? This is a dilemma I explored in a recent blog on a hip new Canadian women’s lifestyle website JustCharlee: To Date Or Not To Date. After some pondering, I’ve concluded I’m going to try dating, slowly and gently. After all, I’m 41 and don’t want to be single forever. (I explored my age, my singleness and the feminism debate in an earlier JustCharlee blog post: 41 and single: Did We Get What We Want Or Forget What We Wanted?).

It seems my most obvious pattern and perhaps the one that’s contributed to my current single status more than any other is what’s referred to in psychological speak as ‘push-pull’ behaviour. This appears to be a common trait of people who fear abandonment, rejection, or being hurt by another, likely because of their own childhood experiences. Out of the Fog, an information site for those dealing with a loved one with a personality disorder, describes push-pull as “a chronic pattern of sabotaging and re-establishing closeness in a relationship without appropriate cause or reason”. I also read a fair amount about the push-pull cycle in the He’s Scared, She’s Scared book (subtitled Understanding the Hidden Fears That Sabotage Your Relationships), which I mentioned on a previous post: Commitment and phobia.

In my case, the pattern seems to be that I draw people to me, allowing them a certain closeness, but then when they get too close, I push them away, sometimes by finding fault with them and magnifying those faults out of all proportion until they drive me completely crazy and I have to leave or force the other person to leave by behaving unbearably. Now I’m aware of the pattern, the key will be to recognise what I’m doing as I’m doing it and to try to suppress the urge to run when it grabs hold of me, at least long enough to give a relationship the chance to get off the ground.

So, that’s the challenge. And I’ve taken the plunge by signing up to the online dating website Guardian Soulmates for six months. In the past, when I’ve done online dating, I’ve only signed up for a month or two and haven’t ever taken it very seriously. I could never bring myself to spend very long online, trawling through those photographs and profiles and trying to find someone I felt like contacting. But I’ve given myself six months so I can take things at a leisurely pace, set some boundaries around how often I visit the site and actually take the time to move on from the email stage to the sitting down for a cup of coffee stage.

That said, I signed up a few weeks ago and have barely looked at the site. Nor have I felt moved to write to the men who’ve ‘liked’ me – a number of whom are in their 50s with grown-up children. I shouldn’t rule anyone out but it’s not exactly what I was hoping for. Of course, as is generally the way, the guys I’ve contacted haven’t written back. Although my page definitely needs a bit of work. It reads more like a job application than a dating profile. According to Guardian Soulmates, I’ve got 1,500 ‘matches’ on the site – men they deem to be compatible with me – so there must be someone I want to go for a coffee with. And if all else fails, I’ll have some good blog/book material (no names mentioned of course!).

Olympic Fever

Completely unrelated to my dating dilemmas – apart perhaps from the ‘Taking the Plunge’ swimming analogy – I just have to express my Olympic fever. It’s well and truly got me. London is all a buzz with Olympic events and millions of people from all over the world, and as long as I don’t have to make too many Tube journeys, it’s clear it’s going to be a great few weeks.

The Olympic exercising bus

I blogged about my Olympic fever on the Huffington Post – From Scepticism to Excitement, Loving the Olympics and It’s Just Getting Started – but I have a new highlight to report since I wrote that post: the big red London double-decker bus that’s doing press-ups in Islington. I saw it this morning and became quite enamoured.

It’s got a pretty good physique, but then so would anyone if they did press-ups for eight hours a day over two weeks. It’s an installation by a Czech artist and it’s already started to draw the crowds.

For the full story, check out this news clip:

About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
This entry was posted in codependency, Dating, Love, Relationships, Self-Acceptance, Uncategorized, Women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Taking the plunge

  1. Kathryn says:

    I believe that if you shut yourself off from meeting someone then the universe will not present anyone for you to meet and if as you have done put yourself out there saying you are ready to meet someone then you are open to meet someone. I too self sabotaged dating and relationships by finding something wrong with that person (could be really silly) for example, my now husband, on our 2nd date wore yellow trainers, well that was the perfect reason for me to stop seeing him! Thankfully I ran into him again and I put the ‘yellow shoe’ incident behind me. Did I want to meet someone and get married and have kids, yes, yes, yes. Well then I had to get over my issue of believing that I was not worth being loved by another. I now have the most amazing husband, have been married for 4 years and have 3 amazing children. Just do it, because you are worth being loved and loving another. X

    • Thank you, Kathryn! A very inspiring, encouraging and moving comment. I love that yellow trainers story. That’s exactly what I would do! So happy to hear you’re so loved. I’d love some of that!
      Katherine x

  2. Ruthlynn says:

    Howdy, have you tried attending a local church? One perhaps you are familiar with or might want to explore? A lot of churches have get togethers for singles and people wanting to participate in things. Ours had a wine tasting and trip to the casinos last month. Our church is only 200 people so very small. Sometimes you might meet another searching just as hard as you. Good Luck.

    • Hi Ruthlynn. Thanks for your comment. I do actually attend a local church which is pretty small and not awash with single men! It is, however, quite well populated by single women wondering where all the men are! That said, it’s a very good idea to keep my eye out for social events, related to church and otherwise, and to go along to things with an open mind.
      Best wishes, Katherine

  3. Anna-Marie says:

    My belief is that, as people living on our own, we cannot help but over-examine our psyches, our emotions, our behaviours, etc. It’s totally natural. So many blogs I’ve read indicate the same thing: if we live on our own then we’ve only got ourselves to hold responsible for our perceived failings, etc, and if we had done/do things differently we might meet someone etc etc. I’m pretty sure that there is nothing that most of us are doing to ‘put men off’ and that it is through no major defect of our personalities that we couldn’t hold on to someone, it’s just LIFE. It isn’t neat, it isn’t always pretty, it just IS. I think we have to get out of our own way and be who we are and learn to flow with life a little bit more. I’m all for signing up to dating sites and making oneself emotionally available, but in the greater scheme of things if we are really going to connect with someone then we will, regardless of whether we think we have worked through issues or not or have abandonment issues or not, or have intimacy issues or not. I don’t think it’s as hard as we think it is. The hardest bit is meeting someone in the first place, and there isn’t a great deal we can do about that other than try to create as many opportunities as possible.
    I wish you luck and really don’t think that your “self-defeating patterns of behaviour” are going to get in the way when you meet someone who is really right for you.

  4. Hi Anna-Marie,
    Thanks for your comment and your encouragement. I agree with the sentiments of getting out of our own way, not over-analysing (something I am prone to do) and creating as many opportunities as possible, all things I will endeavour to do over the coming months! And I do hope you’re right – that when the timing is right and the person is right, things that have got in my way in the past won’t be as much of an issue as they have been.
    Thanks again for reading and writing.
    Best wishes, Katherine

  5. tracey cockram says:

    Katherine, I really feel you are an emotionally honest and open person who will find value and love with someone you choose to trust with all your hard-earned feelings. I have read almost all of your links and am very encouraged by the analysis in the He’s Scared She’s Scared section. I know very well how easy it is to find fault before accepting what is – how well said, Anna-Marie! – and am now deep in the the throes of a relationship I know I do not always deal too sensitively with. Life is tricky at the best of times so take heart in your abilities to see clearly the good in life and be confident that God is on your side! Love the bus by the way!!
    Tracey xxx

  6. athena says:

    hi Kathryn, I’m concerned that you disregard men in their 50s with grown-up children. Why?

    • Hi there,
      Thanks for reading and commenting. I thought one of my readers might point out that might not be a wise move, but I don’t disregard them. As I wrote in the blog, I shouldn’t rule anyone out but it just wasn’t what I was hoping for. And I think I wrote that in reaction to a message I’d received from someone who was in his late 50s and who I just couldn’t imagine myself with, from what I read on his profile. But I’m trying to keep an open mind, really I am!
      Best wishes,

  7. Ally says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog (via your article about fertility in Easy Living) and I am overwhelmed. So much of what you write reminds me of my single, 40 year old sister. She signs up to Guardian Soulmates too every now and again but can’t bring herself to ‘attack’ it as the numbers game it probably is. She might go on a date with someone every now and again but sometimes it does her more harm than good when the date is disappointing. (It’s soooo unfair and depressing as well that most of the men in her age group are advertising for women 10 years younger!) She has always convinced that she’ll only meet the right person through a friend of a friend and yet no-one seems to know any single men any more. She would so love to meet someone and have a family and I have to fight the feelings of guilt that I have a husband and 2 children that threaten to affect my relationship with her. I used to reassure her that one day she WILL find someone, and have children; more recently I’ve felt I need to try and help her accept things as they are but I think we are both frightened of going there. It breaks my heart but that’s nothing to the loneliness she feels. I wish I knew how to help her.

    • Hi Ally,
      Thanks for getting in touch. What can I say? It’s a really tricky situation to be in – 40s, wanting children, trying to date. There’s no easy answer – as I’m discovering. But I also have to be aware of my own resistance to making an effort in this area. As many people have noted, if we were looking for a new job, we’d throw ourselves into it, buy a new outfit, spend ages on our CV, search the Internet etc. But when it comes to looking for a life partner, we tend to not put in any effort, just sit back and expect someone to materialise. For many of course, this strategy works out – chance meetings, introductions etc. But for others, work and effort is required and most of us don’t like to do this when it comes to our personal lives. But times have changed and the way people meet each other have changed and I guess we need to keep up with that and spend as much time on our personal lives as we do on our professional lives. But it’s easier said that done. As for feeling so guilty, though, I’m sure that’s not helping either of you, although it does show how much you care. I’m sure your sister knows all this but if she doesn’t have any faith in the internet and there are no single friends of friends, pursuing hobbies or going on activity days/evenings/weekends etc where there are ‘like-minded’ people can be a way of meeting someone. I really hope it works out.
      Best wishes, Katherine

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