By the time you get to your mid twenties or so, you’ve probably experienced heartbreak. I’m talking gut punch, lie in your bed without showering, burst into heaving sobs without warning heartbreak. There’s nothing quite like it in the world. As debilitating as it can be, there’s a lot that you can learn from it. People also have a sense of respect and empathy for those going through major heartbreak. No one is going to question you when you need to take time to cry, feel sorry for yourself, and chill.
But there’s a different kind of heartbreak that isn’t as widely recognized and respected: it’s the millions of smaller heartbreaks that happen regularly when you’re dating.
These heartbreaks aren’t nearly as all-consuming and powerful as when a long-term relationship ends, but they’re still painful and relevant. The million little heartbreaks of dating come in various forms, including:
- When you meet someone on a dating app and have amazing text and/or phone conversations, then you meet in real life and the chemistry just isn’t there
- When you think you have an off-the-charts great first date, but never hear from the person again
- When you go out with someone for a little while and you realize you don’t want to take it to the next level, and then you have to tell them that
- When you go on a few dates with a person and they nicely tell you that they don’t want to take it to the next level with you, even though you had hoped that would be what happened
- When you go on a great date with someone and eventually end up running into them when they’re on a date with someone else. They’re not doing anything wrong, but it still stings having to be fully aware that they’re seeing other people
- When you realize you’re not excited to hear from someone that you had wanted to be excited to hear from because you know they’re a good person
- When you realize that you’re excited to hear from someone that you know you shouldn’t be excited to hear from because they’re probably a not-so-good person and aren’t someone you shouldn’t invest your time into long-term
- When you go on a few dates with someone and you stop hearing from them and you don’t know why
There are so many various ways that dating can chip away at your heart. It’s no wonder that when you’ve been single for a while you might find yourself feeling cynical about the whole process. Sure, meeting new people and going on first dates is exciting. It can also lead to small hurts. If the end of a major relationship is like a bullet wound, these are more like paper cuts. They seem tiny, but they sting like crazy. You’re mad that they make you tear up, but sometimes they just do.
If you’re experiencing any of these various smaller heartbreaks as you date, don’t feel weird about your sadness/disappointment/anger/frustration. It may seem ridiculous to be bummed out about someone you only really knew for a month, but dating at any stage requires an emotional investment and that can lead to a whole slew of feelings. It’s okay to feel hopeful about the possibility of someone, and then to feel crushed when it doesn’t pan out for any number of reasons.
I’ll always have respect for people going through the major heartbreak you experience at the end of a long-term relationship or marriage, but I also have so much sympathy for those of us who are out there dating and willing to invest a little bit of ourselves over and over again, knowing that we might get hurt. We’re brave, and it’s okay to be sad when things don’t work out. Wine and Ben & Jerry’s aren’t strictly reserved for the end of long marriages and relationships, you know.