A married friend of a friend said something to me the other day, when I mentioned I had dated another mutual friend of ours, she said, “yeah well, he’s dated everybody, so I wouldn’t brag about it!”
I didn’t think too much about it in the moment, but it stuck with me. I wondered why she said it with such judgment and apparent disdain. Now perhaps she’s unhappy in her marriage and is envious of the single life, or perhaps she has a secret crush on this particular mutual friend, or perhaps she’s just a judgmental person. Who knows, it’s of no consequence, really.
What it reminded me is there seems to be a stigma attached to “serial” dating, like if you’ve dated a lot of people, you’re somehow a superficial person.
I don’t believe us “daters” should accept this from our married or non-dating friends. Can we consider for a moment that it simply means you’re single?
I went on a date with a guy one time that was a few months out of a 20+ year marriage. We got talking about dating experiences (because he probably wanted to live vicariously through me) and after a little while, he said “wow, you’ve dated a lot!” I was like “well, compared to your experience, I suppose I have, but I’m guessing marriage prevented you from actively dating for the past 20+ years!”
Then there’s the belief that if you’re still single later in life, there must be something wrong with you. This is as random and ill conceived as saying there’s something wrong with you if you’ve been married for 20+ years. We’ve simply made different choices in life, or had different priorities. I’ll tell you what, I’d much rather be in my 40’s, single and content, than married and miserable. And forgive my somewhat jaded view of marriage, but I know of very few married folk who appear to be as satisfied with their relationship status, as those of us who have chosen an alternate route. Although, to be fair, I do know a few couples that appear to have found the golden ticket when it comes to long-term relationships. (Alternately, I know a few single folk who are miserable with their lack of relationship, but that’s a whole other blog topic.)
There are varied and numerous reasons an individual would choose to remain single for the majority of their lives. In my case, the primary reason was the fact that I was a single parent. Combine that with the fact I had a very rewarding corporate career. I really didn’t have a whole lot of time or energy left over to devote to building a meaningful relationship.
And of course we’ve all had those past-experiences, whether with our family, friends or lovers, that have shaped our behavior…experiences that cause us to have fears, triggers and impediments to success in future relationships.
Whether or not you’re fortunate enough to have found your person early in life or you believe you have yet to meet your affinity or are simply content with “serial dating”, the next time you draw a conclusion about the choices of your single or married friends, consider for a moment that if anyone knows what’s best for them, it’s most likely them.
I try to make a practice of accepting folks and their choices for who and what they are, even when they’re different than mine.