I’ve been reading your column for a little while now, and a lot of your advice has really been helpful for me in reframing some of my hangups around dating. Writing in now though because I have a problem that I don’t think I’ve seen addressed (or I just might have missed in the archives).
Some background, I’m a 27 year old bisexual (probably?) woman. I’ve got a new job that I’m enjoying so far, though it’s a lot more work than I’ve had in others, a great and fairly large social circle of friends and family, my own place that I really like, interests and hobbies I need to start picking back up now that the pandemic seems to be slowing down a bit, and I’m reaching a point where I want a relationship of some kind. I haven’t really dated much in general, a few first dates here and there and a 2 month thing in college that just sort of fizzled out. I mostly meet folks through dating apps nowadays, except the two month thing in college which was through a swing dancing club.
One other note is, I’ve never been diagnosed, but I definitely have some flavor of social anxiety, plus probably depression or possibly ADHD. I manage it fairly well, but it does mean that in new social situations I tend to be a bit on edge, and overcompensate by kind of putting on an over the top bubbly persona, which doesn’t always help people get to know the real me. I also somewhat regularly get overwhelmed with trying to balance work, basic life stuff (keeping apartment clean, cooking, keeping up with appointments, etc), and my social life, and usually the first thing that goes out the window for me is dating, so I’ll be the first to admit I’m not always putting effort into dating.
My main problem though is I’m having a hard time nailing down exactly what I’m looking for in a relationship. Like I said, I’m probably bisexual but I often feel more romantically attracted to masc-leaning folks but sexually attracted to femme folks, which is tricky. Additionally, I’m also not sure on the level of seriousness and commitment I’m looking for. I definitely want a long term committed partner eventually, but it takes me a while to warm up to folks. Even within my friend group, most of them are folks that I’ve known for years (still hang out with some folks I’ve been friends with in high school or earlier) and even then it took me a bit over a year to really feel comfortable and established with some of my newer friends.
On dating apps, when I’ve gone on dates with folks that are looking for something more serious, it always feels like I’m trying to force a connection, but conversely, if I go on dates with folks looking for something more casual, it often tends to just fizzle out with one of us ghosting the other. I also just have a hard time judging whether I’m even attracted to someone in the first place over an app and texts. In person, I tend to click better with people I meet and make friends fairly easily, but once again it takes me a while to figure out whether I’m actually attracted to someone. I think I’m probably somewhere on the demisexuality spectrum, but what that usually means is by the time I figure out I might be into someone, they’ve usually lost any interest they might have had or have started dating someone else by that point. And I once I do develop a crush on someone, they tend to be fairly intense and linger for ages even after I’ve confirmed that it isn’t going to happen, which makes it harder for me to be interested in other folks.
Part of the problem too is that I’m almost always the one to initiate. I don’t think I’m necessarily unattractive, but I am a bit overweight (working on getting back into dancing and weightlifting for that) and definitely not someone who has a bunch of folks pursuing them. I’ve gotten better about not being scared to be the one to initiate when I think I might be interested (thanks a great deal to a lot of your advice!) but it is kind of hard to be the initiator when you aren’t often sure of what you’re looking for yourself.
I could ramble on more, but in short, do you have any advice for how to date when you’re slow to warm to people and aren’t entirely sure what it is you’re looking for anyways?
Lukewarm and Indecisive