How to Survive the Panic of Dating Turbulence

Sorry I’ve been a bit M.I.A. on here, optimists, but I have a good reason: I got wrapped up in closing my second book deal! I can’t tell you much about it yet, but rest assured I will keep the optimism message spreading into even more areas of your life. And the more positive energy you can keep up in more places, the greater your orange glow, which is what will help attract the right person your way.

Today’s message harks from a flight I took last weekend.

Don't get so scared en route you forget to enjoy the flight! (Image by Amy Spencer)

I was sitting next to my sister on our flight home from New York when we hit a good chunk of turbulence that sent the plane bouncing around and sent the flight attendants to their seat belts.

Here’s what I was feeling: Pure, unbridled panic. You know, like, Oh my God, what if this is it? What if we go down and this ends up on the news tomorrow freaking out everybody who think planes only go down over mountains in Central America? What will I do when we’re hurtling toward the ground? What if that last stupid Facebook update counts as my final words?

Yet here’s what I did: I acted cool. I yawned and stretched a little, looked out the window like I was bored, and flipped through a few channels on my Jet Blue TV.

Well, the turbulence stopped, I got sucked into a marathon of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and the flight and life carried on. But it reminded me so much of what I would do when I was dating—how I’d often react the same way to my dating turbulence.

Here’s what I mean: Every once in a while, on a random night or for a random week, I’d feel a searing moment of panic: I’m going to be alone. No one will ever love me. It’s too late for me. I’m too old. I missed the boat. It’s never going to happen. But if anyone asked me at a party how I felt about being single, I’d play as cool as I did on the airplane this weekend and pretend I wasn’t bothered at all, “It’s fun, you know? I have my freedom, I get to date around, feel things out. I mean, I don’t even know if I’m ready for a relationship anyway, so it’s all good.”

Why did I do this? Well, as I write about in Meeting Your Half-Orange, I always had this voice in my head saying, “There’s nothing sorrier than a single girl who wishes she wasn’t.” And I was determined not to be that person who got other people’s pity. So I’d sugarcoat my situation. In essence, while I was panicking about the dating turbulence, I’d yawn and stretch, look around like I was bored, and flip through a few guys. I acted cool. I thought “cool” was the way to get the guy. I know differently now.

What I believe is that the way to get the guy or girl is to act real. The more in tune with your true feelings you are, the more grounded and real you’ll feel. So, if you’re having a teribble, rough, sucky time with dating this week, don’t sugarcoat it. Admit it! No, people don’t want you talking about it every single day for a month (and neither do I, because it’s not helping your case with all that negative energy emanating off of you!). But it’s okay to be real and say, “I’ve had a bad, sucky dating week and I just want to wallow in it for a night so I can start feeling better tomorrow.” In fact, if you do this, over time, you may even feel like wallowing less, because you’ll see how little it gets you to stew in bummer-ness for too long.

So that’s my message this week: When a friend asks about your dating life, don’t act cool. Be real. Tell them how you’re feeling, even if it’s nervous, scared, lonely or truly panicked. Then, once you’ve gotten it off your chest, focus on the good stuff in your life (your job, your Checkers skills, your cat, those awesome friends) and distract yourself with the life equivalent of flipping through channels on Bravo TV. You may notice how smooth life gets when you’ve stopped paying so much attention to the turbulence. It’s natural to panic. But what’s true in flying is true in love: Turbulence doesn’t cause you to crash. It’s just some bumpy air along the way. Remember that (because I have to remind myself every time!)

As long as you get real and admit that you’re a little scared of the bumpy air, you may find your grip on the arm rests lightens up and you can enjoy the ride more. Life has a wonderful ride to offer you. Give yourself the gift of being able to enjoy it.

And if you have any other tricks for getting over the panic of dating turbulence—or, for that matter, flight turbulence—let me know!

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Love Lesson: The Emergency Room Laugh

Big love,