I’ve decided one of my new year’s resolutions will be to return to dating next year after a long hiatus. I’ve been studying for the last few years which has left me busy and broke much of the time so I haven’t been particularly interested in dating. I think dating can take a lot of enthusiasm, effort and money (paying for dates, dating websites etc.). I just didn’t feel like it was a priority for me in this last year or so. Whenever I have told either women or men who are family or friends that I wasn’t that interested in dating for the minute I feel I’ve either been met with pity, confusion or disbelief. I’d go and meet someone feeling happy with myself but then leave afterwards feeling down and wonder why. I realised I was absorbing other people’s judgments and expectations of what I should be doing as a single woman in her thirties. It didn’t matter how many times I told people I was fine or even happy with my single status the majority of people I spoke to made it obvious that they did not really believe me. I’ve spent quite a lot of my life being single and I’ll be honest I think part of that is to do with the stigma single women receive. Constantly being made to feel like you are less-than because you are single can wear away at a woman’s self-esteem. It’s time for people to accept that men and/ or relationships won’t always be at the forefront of a woman’s mind and that’s perfectly OK.
Looking back I can see I’ve always struggled with dating and men. Feminism has helped me to more fully understand why. It’s because of sexism quite frankly and racism too. As a mixed race woman not only am I trying to avoid racial fetishism (which I have come across more times that I care to mention from both black and white men) but all the usual sexist crap women tend to have to deal with in relationships. I’ve always been someone to get mighty pissed at sexism even from being a child. It’s something I’ve always felt hyper aware of and I do feel it’s another issue that has kept me single at times because I’ve found it hard to deal with sexism (often in conjunction with issues to do with race) within my own romantic relationships. It hasn’t necessarily become easier as I’ve gotten older either.
I want to go back into dating with a positive attitude however! I am genuinely looking forward to it. Training to become a counsellor and feminism have helped me to understand my needs in relationship more, how to set boundaries and how to communicate more effectively which has led to greater self-confidence. As preparation for returning to dating I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about feminists in the dating world. I have to say they haven’t been uplifting. I’ve been hearing some horror stories (and I can very well recall my own!). I think it’s been helpful to read these articles though for a bit of perspective. At times I have wondered if some of the women writing these articles are dusting men off a little bit too quickly. It seems some feminists are giving any man the boot as soon as he says something prejudiced either against women or another oppressed group. While I think we should all try to raise each other’s consciousness and point it out when we hear something oppressive I do think we need to cut people some slack. We are all victims to some extent of the oppressive systems we live within and no-one is perfect. I certainly don’t want to be held to a standard of perfection myself. I have been known to let something slip on occasion that is problematic and I’m sure I will unwittingly continue to do so. I also don’t think we can expect people to immediately transform their troublesome opinions literally as soon as we expose them. Often attitudes don’t change overnight. Having said that I don’t think it’s a good idea for anyone to date someone who is at a wildly different stage of consciousness to them.
I guess what I’m personally looking for is a ‘fixer-upper’. I remember watching the Disney film ‘Frozen’ and this being the term used to describe a potential partner who has some really amazing qualities but has some obvious flaws that need working on too. The key, in my opinion, is to find someone who deep down wants to live in a just world, is invested in their own continuous self-development and is willing to reflect on their thoughts, behaviours and attitudes. I’m not looking for someone who will never say or do anything I have a problem with. I’m looking for someone who cares how I feel about what they say and do and is willing to consider my feedback.
Well this is only the beginning so I have a feeling there will be more posts from me on this topic along the way. Eek. Wish me luck! If anyone has any comments or feedback on this blog I’d love to hear from you.