Earlier this week, Serena Williams made an announcement that I wish I could say I found shocking: She swore off dating, “for about the next decade or so,” because it just wasn’t working.
“I have given up on dating,” Serena confessed to Celebuzz. “I’m a really emotional person. I give my all and everything. I do make mistakes — like every human does — but the last relationship just was too much of a heartbreak for me. I just can’t go through that anymore. It was hard.”
Honey, I know the feeling! I had enough bad dating stories to fill a book, literally, about all the lessons I learned from some unfortunate (and some fortunate) experiences with the opposite sex. I’m not shocked by her admission, though, because I think any single woman who really wants to be part of a couple has been there before. Being there isn’t a problem; it’s a natural and expected reaction. But staying there?
I have a friend who somewhat unintentionally is following Serena’s concept. After a devastating breakup, the details of which she says are too painful to recount, she gave up on men cold turkey. She wouldn’t put it that way, of course. Her alibi is that she just hasn’t met anyone who after a first conversation struck her enough to get to know better… for four years.
She hangs out, partying every weekend, and to see her work a room — knowing or effortlessly getting to know everyone (as much as you can via small talk) — you would never guess that she’s locked her heart behind a steel wall and thrown away the key. She meets my girlfriend interventions to hook her up with a guy, just to give dating a little try, with staunch rejection and a terse demand, not request, to “Drop it, D.” So I do, knowing I’ve overstepped my bounds in treating her more like a client than a friend. I can’t even lead my friend to water, much less make her drink it.
Dating can be extraordinarily fun, and in my day, I had (mostly) a blast, with a few experiences that left me drained, much like I’m guessing Serena and my girl are feeling right now. I get why they and women who have had negative experiences on the dating front would want to opt out, and it’s a smart decision to temporarily opt out when you’re not emotionally prepared. But staying out, especially when having someone to share your life with is a real desire? No.
You may not lose if you do not play, but you also cannot win. Every guy won’t be a fabled prince, but every one you encounter won’t be a toad. Instead of looking at the possibility of failure in dating, think of the possibility of success. And while everyone doesn’t enjoy the “necessary evil” of the process, when you find a match, it can be well worth the trouble of trying… when you’re ready, of course.
Demetria L. Lucas the author of A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life, in stores now. Follow her on Twitter at @abelleinbk