When I used to struggle with substance abuse as a younger man, there was this redundant theme that kept playing out over and over again. I’d swear off the lifestyle and try to live responsibly for as long as I could possibly stand it — and then, when I inevitably found myself returning to debauchery, I’d try to convince myself that “this time it would be different.” It was the most clear-cut definition of insanity that one could find — doing the same things and expecting different results.
I was fortunate enough to get off that hamster wheel almost a decade ago, but I find that my relationship with internet dating is exactly the same. Sometime in the early Spring, I was so done with the dating sites that I even wrote a blog about it — and then, six months later, I was back at it again.
That was just last week, and having been on three dates, I can say — once again — nothing has changed. I hate to sound so cynical but the same people who either led me on or ignored my messages were still right there in the search, probably still waiting for whomever it is that they are waiting for. And the three women I did go on dates with? Well, at least I wound up with a new friend out of the deal. There’s obviously nothing wrong with that.
The analogy with drug addiction is more profound than one might expect. The release of dopamine and the thrill of someone e-liking you is addictive — and the “come down” when it doesn’t work out feels a lot like the “come down” from a drug like cocaine. So, what can we do instead?
I’m serious. I’m sure there are no shortage of people who will argue ’til the death that this is a horrid suggestion. These are the people who strongly believe that “you gotta be in it to win it.” I, however, can assure you that I’ve been in it and all I did was “lose it.” And by “it,” I am referring to my mind, my money and my time. So, even if you’re a bit skeptical, you could at least try my approach for 30 days and see for yourself how your overall morale will shoot right up. Here are five healthy things you could be doing instead of combing the dark recesses of the internet in search of love:
1-Meditation- Wait! Wait! Before you hit the “x” and stop reading this blog, hear me out! What is it exactly that we are looking for when we find ourselves frittering away the precious moments of our life swiping this way and that way and creating witty responses to impress a two-dimensional picture? Love? Sex? Companionship? No. We are seeking the feelings that we think those things are going to give us. The thing is, they rarely do; however, twenty minutes a day meditating will fill you with harmonious peace of mind — every time. It’s a lot like exercise. Nobody really feels like doing it, but everyone that does is always glad they did.
2-Start A Daily Blog- The benefits of doing this are three-fold. First, it serves as therapy. I am not sure I could have gotten over my split last year if I wasn’t totally engaged in the practice of waking up early every day and writing about what was on my mind. Second, by the time you’re on your four hundredth of five hundredth blog, you will inevitably be a great writer — and that, is something the world needs more of. Third, your words and thoughts will be of benefit to others. What’s better than that?
3-Join A Yoga Class- Yoga is one of those things, like meditation, that people seem to go far out of their way to avoid and then, when they finally give in and do it, they usually wish they would’ve started ages ago. No matter where you live, chances are there is a yoga studio in your vicinity and no matter what your schedule looks like, chances are you can find a class time that works. Besides, maybe you’ll find the person of your dreams in the three-dimensional form — like they used to do in the old days.
4-Take A Class-Somewhere around the corner from that Yoga studio I just mentioned is a community college. Inside that Community College is most likely a brochure for what is commonly referred to as “Adult Education.” Adult Education is, of course, non-credited classes where anyone can learn something useful without shelling out a ton of dough. Persian Cuisine, e-business, sculpture, music theory — the choices are virtually endless. Once again, as with the Yoga class, there is always the possibility meeting someone beautiful or, at least, finding a new friend.
5-Volunteer-If you’re a musician like me, you could reach out to Musician’s On Call and see if they have a spot for you. Or, perhaps you could get involved with Habitat For Humanity. Or, your church’s soup kitchen. The possibilities are endless, and I will bet money on the fact that an hour or two spent in this way will leave you feeling much better than a $30 coffee date that cost you $50 to get off the ground and net you something like zero.
Regardless of what you choose to do, there are much more life affirming ways to spend your time other than scrolling through seven-year-old photos of various schlubs on Match.com or OK Cupid. Sure, we’ve all heard the success stories that are associated with these avenues — and, once again, I hate to sound cynical — but these are anomalies. They are the tiny exceptions in an Olympic size pool of rules. Pay heed! If you want to be cheery, try something different.