Adapted from a recent online discussion.
I’ve just turned 30 and I’m starting to come around to the idea that being a fiercely independent workaholic with no life outside the office might not be all it’s cracked up to be. This is the first time I’ve really thought about trying to date, so I’ve missed out on all the experience that everyone else my age clearly has. How do I baby-step into this new and intimidating world I’ve always avoided? Of course I’m aware there is lots in the way of Internet dating, but that seems like advanced-level stuff, and I value privacy and do not spend time on social media.
Cautiously Wading In
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Everyone else my age” is not anything monolithic, clearly or otherwise.
Plus, we’re all just dorks, with varying degrees of public mastery over our dorkishness.
And finally, I would have words with whoever cracked up fiercely independent workaholism to be anything. I mean, I’m all for a life lived as a series of many different lives, where we go with whatever moves us to the extent we honorably can – and a passion for one’s work can certainly be among those choices – but, “WooHOO, I’m headed to WORK!” is not gracing a lot of cat posters.
So what has really happened, presumably, is that your loneliness has finally exceeded your dread of dating. And that’s fine; I think that’s why most people end up braving an open effort to meet attractive people, which is all “trying to date” really means.
Your best move now is not to worry about figuring out what everyone else knows, or passing for suave, or making up for lost time. Instead, please take a hard look at that “I value privacy.” That and your intimidation say your biggest obstacle is your own preoccupation with not embarrassing yourself.
The thing is, it’s impossible not to look silly sometimes. Trying to avoid it often just looks worse, and often postpones a learning experience. And, it’s not just possible but darn near certain that people really won’t much care that you’re flubbing something, as long as you’re not aggressive or creepy. We tend to think we’re being noticed, watched and remembered much more than we really are.
If you go to a place where you know no one, you will feel acutely self-conscious – but that’s actually the place where you’re least required to get things just right. Most people won’t pay attention, and the ones who do won’t register much beyond that moment.
So. Start by figuring out how you enjoy spending your non-work time (project if you have to) and developing a short list of things you feel comfortable doing. Then, figure out how you can combine that activity with socializing, ideally among people you won’t ever have to see again, because that means you don’t need to impress them. There’s your Go. Good luck.
Oh – and online dating is not “advanced-level stuff,” it’s for go-getters and baby-steppers alike. It’s just blunt and therefore not for the faint of heart, and best paired with basic safety precautions like meeting at a public place.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.