During a recent outing with my girlfriends, the mood at the table went from lighthearted to stark at the mention of one topic—dating.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” one friend curtly said.
“Why does it seem so easy for some people and not for others?” a friend pondered out loud, in a sad sort of way.
“I’m sick of dating,” another friend sighed, “I’m just ready to be with the person I’m meant to be with.”
I walked away from the conversation with bewilderment and empathy. These are beautiful, intelligent, and fun women (and I’m not just saying that because they’re my friends!). They are more or less content with their lives. They fully recognize a relationship will have its challenges and will not complete them (sorry, Jerry McGuire). Most of them aren’t lacking opportunities for dates, either.
But this isn’t the first time I’ve heard blatant disillusionment with love, and this disillusionment isn’t isolated to women. I’ve had more than a few guy friends confide in me about their frustration with the dating scene. And I totally get where my friends are coming from. I’ve been there too.
Dating is supposed to be fun, and for most of us, most of the time it is! But what I’ve observed among my friends and what I’ve certainly experienced at times in my own life is a natural feeling of emotional exhaustion. It stems from the cycle of appropriately getting our hopes up for a romantic prospect, only to learn at some point this person is not the one we’ll vow our lives to. Sometimes we’re the one who realizes it, and other times, he’s the one who calls it off. No matter which way you slice it, the ending means we’re back out there, opening ourselves to another person who may or may not remain in our lives for the long haul.
No friend can bring the one thing every disillusioned dating woman wants—to be happily in love. But I know when I’m down about my dating life, there are things that friends and family have done that have helped me cheer up.
01. Focus conversation on things that are going well in her life.
It’s tempting to ask a single woman, "So, are you seeing anyone?" Who doesn’t love a good date story, right? But when a woman is disillusioned with love, that question is just a reminder that she is in fact still “out there” in the dating scene. So instead, ask her how she spent her time on her weekend or if she has any new projects or hobbies she’s working on. Talk with her about her family and friends, and her co-workers and career. Really engage her in the topics she seems to be excited about. By getting her to talk about the things that are going well in her life, you’re likely helping her remember that, while she may not be happily in love, there are still plenty of things in her life that are reason for joy and gratitude.
02. Be there in “smaller” big moments in her life.
In an age when Facebook feeds can get cluttered with engagement announcements and weekends can be spent shopping for and attending wedding and baby showers, a single woman’s “big life moments” can often feel overlooked or insignificant. It’s not that a single woman doesn’t want to celebrate her friends’ life changes—she almost always enthusiastically does! But, each of those milestones in a friend’s life is a reminder of her own desire (and perhaps impatience) to reach those moments. When you’re frustrated with love, celebrations exacerbate that disillusion. But sometimes all it takes is a little acknowledgement to draw that jaded woman back in. So, take your friend out to dinner to celebrate that professional goal or accolade she received from a boss. Offer to host a dinner party for her birthday. Or send her a card in the mail, just because you were thinking of her.
03. Be the type of friend she can relax with.
A dating woman can often feel like she is on a tightrope act. It’s like one misstep could change the trajectory of our happily ever after. It likely won’t. But still, there is a frequent tension—do I go to this social event (after all, I should meet new people) or stay home (because I would really just like to read, watch a movie, and go to bed early)? If I’m going out, I need to be put together and look cute, and be ready to make friendly, non-boring small talk. If I stay in, people might think I’m uninteresting. In short, a dating woman can be frequently focused on what type of impression she is making.
So be the friend who is easy to be with. Join her on her couch to watch the chick flick. Call her on a Tuesday night, just to ask how her day was, and stay on the phone a little longer to really listen to her describe her day at work or whatever else may be on her mind. Verbally tell her why you appreciate who she is and the role her friendship plays in your life. Everyone needs places where the pressure is off and we can truly be appreciated for being ourselves.
For a woman disillusioned with love, it can be tempting to throw in the dating towel. But the example of a constant friend, who is really trying to love her well, could serve as that recharge that most women need.