Some poor dating guru said that people need learn to enjoy the process of dating.

That guy needs to duck, because if I ever see him in person I’m probably going to throw a shoe at him.

Modern dating is a complete shit show. It’s one of those You Can’t Dress up a Pig things. Not that we don’t all try, especially in the beginning. We have a blast for a bit and then get really sick of wasting our time and dusting our sweet self off.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t lovely moments. But most of the time the ratio of fabulous to brutal to boring is maybe 1:5:30. And I could be being completely generous.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not people. People are great. It’s that dating rules have changed and morphed into a video game – level hell. You gotta have a lotta lives to stay in the game. And superpowers, too. And you gotta put down the game when your butt gets all South Park World of Warcraft hurt. Got it?

I have written lately about not dating, then continued to give you dating stories but behind the scenes, I am barely giving it any time. If I swipe, I do it for just a few minutes. If I decide to read some profiles, I never (hardly ever!) go down the rabbit hole.

Getting me out on an actual date has proven to be a bit of a stretch. I am going to go with a blog friend’s one-date-a-month rule. Nothing more, and nothing less. That’ll keep it in check.

I remember when I was hitting three or four dates a week. True, I held all my dates at the Alley and they were more just playful short little interviews, but when I started this blog I was dating with a capital D – Deluxe.

The dating rabbit hole is when you white knuckle it and decide there bloody well is going to be someone decent on this site tonight and you’re going to find him and get a date and you end up at midnight messaging someone and the next morning you kind of just gasp because WHAT were you thinking???

I’m trying very hard not to do that and the secret is just to do other things. Do life. Remember, I’m just keeping a little window open, not trying to solve global warming overnight. But I would totally love to solve global warming overnight if I could.

A few things have come up lately that immediately made me think – girlfriend, have you learned nothing? The answer is I have and I haven’t – but keep reading.

At first glance it would seem that I’ve learned jack shit, nada.

Take the fact that I was certain I would never kiss anyone until like maybe a month into things. I decided that I wouldn’t when I shifted into self-protection mode. Then the first time I really wanted to kiss someone I totally forgot about New Rules. Turns out it’s easy not kiss someone when you really aren’t interested. But when Cupid shoots his bow, I go down pretty easy.

I’m not about to roll in the hay with anyone I’ve just met. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with it, but I do think my wild days are over. I will say for the record that rushing around the bases full speed on a first date never affected a dating outcome. In fact, I ended up seeing most of the men I did that with. So I’m not gonna say it’s a bad thing. I just don’t want that anymore. If I change my mind, I’ll be sure to let you know.

I want to kiss a person if I think I might want to see them again, because it matters. I like to go in because I kinda want to know if there’s any spark before I get all, let me make you a Moussaka. Also, in the moment, I might just want to kiss the person. I kissed someone recently because I just super wanted to  – you know, attraction. It’s hardly ever there for me anymore, but it’s there when it’s there. Big time.

I should know better though. In the future it might be more fun to let the man attached to the lips work a little harder. I think it’s a little bullshitty, but probably that’s a thing I should adapt, if I do decide to date much. And I haven’t really decided to do that.

I’m still on the fence. I think I have a Tinder date next week, but I might accidentally forget to check my messages. Yep, I’m part of the problem. We all are, just a little bit.

There is someone I’d like to be in touch with me but I have a strong feeling I’m not going to hear back. It’s one of those situations where you think for sure that you’re going to see someone again and then the sun comes up on a few days and you realize that it just probably isn’t going to happen.

I know what people do when they are superlike gold-plated interested and let’s just say that when that happens, you aren’t blogging about it because you’re staring at their sweet face and busy actually living it up.

I realized recently that I have not changed in how hard the unexpected dating disappointments hit me – I still am impacted to a silly and ridiculous degree.

But it’s not for the same reasons.

The reason used to be that I would develop a crush the size of Texas on someone and swoon, regardless of where it was or wasn’t going. I would attach like a little duckling to the idea of some great guy and then torture myself over every maddening hanging text.

Yeah well not anymore.

When I get all girly emo, it’s not about the guy. The guy who is proving not to be who I’d wanted him to be isn’t really the star of the show. I’ve done this enough to know that there might be a zillion reasons why some guy isn’t responding the way I might like him to. It could be anything from indigestion to he eloped with someone else. There is just no way of telling why mister fabulous has parked you in a holding pattern, so don’t even try to understand it.

Also, and this is something I have started to really understand – and another blogger articulated it recently – guys come back. They always come back.

It doesn’t mean that you’re going to want them after they blow off their moment with you, but you are going to hear from most of them again. And when they boomerang back I’ll tell you something that sounds really catty – but it’s the truth. You will hold all the power and cards because you just won’t care anymore. Not to get all sexist but it’s an established fact that guys win most of the short-term indifference awards but the ladies really knock the I’m over you dance out of the park. We just move on and collect guys who had their chance but blew it like charms on a bracelet.

We hand out second chances fairly liberally knowing that nothing will come of it. Most likely. But sit back and watch the dance if you want. There’s no harm, really.

Not too long ago I had a guy I was hanging with quit calling me. I wasn’t sold on him and there was a big (huge) age difference so it wasn’t a very big deal. But we did a decent Netflix and chill, and we liked each other. Anyway, it wasn’t a big deal when he stopped reaching out without a word of explanation…well that’s rude. I sort of forgive guys for disappearing. It’s not a good thing to do to someone but sometimes they do it because they genuinely like you and can’t face hurting your feelings. They don’t realize that hurt feelings heal quickly but ghosting and bread crumbing deliver pain in tiny increments for years. Because you never do get answers…ok…actually you will have answers some day, trust me….

Fast forward and every now and then I get a text asking me how I’m doing from Mr. Thirty Five Year Old Father of two young boys Netflix and Chill guy.  If I had to guess about what happened I’d say that he met someone else and didn’t know how to tell me so he disappeared and now the person he met is out of the picture and he’s bored.

Yeah, well I’m not that bored.

I am a texting freak whore. It’s the written word. I dash off novellas in between patients or while I’m waiting for the shower to heat up. But the last time, I didn’t even answer him. And that is something I just don’t do, ever.

So yeah, the current dating thing is for guys to keep your number for the rest of their natural lives, and when they get a little sad or nostalgic, they’ll ask you what’s up. It’s not their fault. They’re sad too. So they’ll be back, sooner or later.

Nowadays I’m  getting a lot less moany about any individual person behind the dating dead-end, but I still feel all the little losses. It’s not them, it’s me.

I’m usually just sad that I don’t get to ride the love wave this time around. It’s like you’re waiting in line and the ride looks really fun and you’re about to get on and someone puts up that rope and you don’t get to get on. And it’s okay because you’re watching everyone else have fun and you know your time will come. And then the ride breaks and you have to go home with cotton candy stuck in your hair.

Or it’s like when you see a kid running with open arms to meet their momma and right before they get there they trip and fall, splat, and skin their knee. Owie.

That’s what it feels like to meet someone great and then realize that it isn’t your turn.

Another thing I learned is that there are three kinda dates: the I’m not interested, the I’m totally interested, and the well, maybe I’m interested.

Guess which is the most dangerous?

The I’m not interested is fine because I come clean before we even say goodnight and I’m really nice about it and the worst is maybe they feel momentarily deflated, but nothing more. I really believe in doing no harm. Men are nice and they deserve a gentle hand. And if they really don’t like me, they generally have such off-putting body language that it’s a mutual dislike – though I have to say that only really happened back when I was dating more indiscriminately. I had a few give me the stink eye.

The guys I’m totally interested in are few and far between, and when I’m hit like that there is an overwhelming chance that I will just kind of melt and wave the white flag in surrender and sometimes it goes great and sometimes it doesn’t but whichever it is, it all blows up pretty fast because the only answer that works with a guy you really like is a hard yes. You can’t chase someone you really like. Ok, you can, and I’ve done it – shamelessly and over many months and months and months. But I’m not that into it anymore. There’s like, other stuff to do. So you know pretty quickly. Hard and fast. Fast and furious. Oh my god oh my god oh my god, splat! Smiley face.

I’ve learned that the really dangerous situation is the maybe. And it’s because the maybe is really a no. You know it. You know it somewhere deep but you can’t think of a reason not to be interested, so you tell yourself that isn’t it great that you are taking it slow and behaving like an adult for once but the underlying truth is that you actually aren’t that interested. Because if you were, you’d definitely know it. Or maybe they are the maybe and they can’t quite make up their minds. So they’re going through the motions but with so little oomph that you ask your friends to help you decipher their five word texts which look like sentences but say absolutely nothing, in the end. So just remember that maybes are no’s, at least for now. If you aren’t ready to say no forever then you can do the thing guys do where they disappear and reappear a year later to see if anything has changed. Women get to do that too, so go ahead. It can be random and fun to play phone book roulette, but later, not now.

And that’s all I think I’ve learned for today.

My only other observation has to do with the weather and it is that  – this time of year, if you wake up and it’s sunny at 7am you should get outside immediately. Because by ten it will probably be dark and gloomy. I didn’t take my Lunesta last night and at 3:30 A.M. I finally gave up and swallowed two (the actual dose is three so don’t worry) and like magic, I drifted off effortlessly twenty minutes later. Anyway, because I didn’t sleep well, I didn’t get up right away. Oh yeah and I’m remembering some 4:30 am patient calls. So I really didn’t get proper sleep. Still, you gotta jump on the morning sun if you want to take a walk in February without freezing your fanny off.

I’m thinking mimosas and eggs benny.

For one.

Listening to Three Little Birds.

By myself.

Playing my fiddle.

For fun.

Maybe a foot massage.

Because you can trade in  your money for a little hands on TLC.

Then I’ll chase the sun until it goes down and kiss my doggies and swallow my Lunesta and do it all over again, confident that I’ll always be my sweet heart on her sleeve self, but I have learned a few things.