There’s a Woody Allen joke that goes, “I don’t go out on dates, I go out on relationships.”
Well, last week I quit dating so I wouldn’t have to go out on any more relationships and it feels permanent, which means it feels less like a sabbatical and more like an allergy. My friend who is allergic to bread cries every time he eats a sandwich. My reaction to dating is similar.
When the doctor insisted that my friend not eat sandwiches anymore, he confided, “I think my life is over.” You see, he is in love with sandwiches. And it’s true, he always seems to have a sandwich in his hand, nibbling on a sandwich, shopping for bread. And then I thought about how, for the past few months I’ve been in love with dating - always checking my online dating profile, going on a date, thinking about going on a date, checking my online dating profile again, going on another date, and then complaining to my friends while I check my online dating profile about how I’ve been spending every second of my spare time with broken promises, disappointments and outright lies.
But, love is like that right? To borrow from David Byrne “You may ask yourself how did I get here?” If this rings true for you, it may be time to step out from the dating scene like I have. You get all the benefits of an allergy without being a pain when your friends invite you over for dinner. Sometimes it's the best thing to do. The following 5 key tips are meant to help you take your own break from online dating.
1. Replace Your Old Allergy with a Similar One
It’s been proven that the red wires in the brain that relate to pleasure overlap with the green wires that relate to seeking relief from anxiety, which is why it’s so easy to develop a new allergy when you’ve given up an old one - like giving up peanuts only to find you’re allergic to cotton. No need to fight it. In fact there’s nothing wrong with replacing one allergy for another - I think the scientific term is called healthy addictive behavior.
You’ll need a surrogate when you deactivate your online profile, which is why, when I de-activated my OK Cupid and Match.com profiles, I re-hired my entire staff of imaginary personal assistants: Veronica Crawford, Agnew Hamilton, and Chucho Van Den Born. (Read about them >here). Now, instead of checking my online dating profile every second like Rain Man, I spend the time helping my imaginary posse get into all kinds of creative mischief.
Tip: The key is to add an allergy that is slightly similar to the old one. Adding electronic cigarettes to your arsenal just won’t cut it.
2. Speak Your Radiated Dating Life Aloud
“Emsam, Norpramin, Pamelor,” he repeated into the receiver. "Wellbutrin, Paxil, Ambien, Valium, Propranol, Meloxicam." At first, I thought he was reciting a torah passage.
“Celexa, Prozac, Sarafem, Zoloft, Anafranil,” he continued. Then, I realized that he wasn’t even speaking to me. He was conducting an exchange at the drive-thru window at Walgreens. I considered hanging up.
“I can’t believe it,” he said. “I’m just like a friggin' senior citizen medicaid patient. OK, I’m back.”
It’s no secret that my pal, Eliezer Sobel, one of the three people I turn to when I’m in need of relationship advice, is in a polyamorous relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. What I am to the world of purposelessness and failed love relationships, Eliezer is to the world of intercontinental human guinea pigs and spirituality. He blogs about his adventures and I, in turn, blog about his advice (Read his Psychology Today posts >here).
I explained my dilemma: A month of dates and nothing but fruitcakes.
“There’s nothing really all that dangerous about a fruitcake,” he said, “as long as you send it along without eating it.”
“That’s where I don’t trust myself,” I said. Now that I was finally over the neurotic self-obsessed speed bump of my last relationship, my writing life was now thrust into a vacuous space that required filling. I'd dated half of New York City, made out with the other half, and in my post-allergy-post-dating funk I didn’t completely trust that I wouldn’t turn myself into the Carrie Bradshaw of the East Village and begin writing about all my dates under the title “Slash in the City,” rather than “Sex in the City.”
“So, what’s the harm in writing about fruitcake?” he asked. “Your hero Jonathan Ames does it all the time.”
“Fruitcake is filled with cloying, radioactive lumps of green, yellow and red. It’s not safe. I can’t expose these women as the unavailable, unassimilated, unclear, unsuitable, untouchables that they are. I may be killed if I tell you about these dates, much less write about them.”
Tip: Sometimes it’s best to do nothing except sit with your uncomfortable feelings. It’s ok to be uncomfortable. These feelings exist for a reason and if you’re quiet enough and listen, they will begin to speak to you in subtle and not so subtle ways.
3. Embrace Contemporary Forms of Love
When my grandfather died, my grandma bought an easel and started painting. For the next five years she created thousands of paintings - her hands, her elbows, and her clothes stained in a rainbow of Skittle colors. Romantic love isn't the only kind of love worth pursuing. Since I quit dating, I started loving my nose. I even started writing songs for my nose which include the following lyrics: “I want to be on HBO/ with my own TV show/ where I save the world/ with nothing but my nose.”
Tip: Body parts and bicycles are good contemporary things to love. For a more extensive list feel free to view my Pintrest Profile >here).
4. Don’t Take Yourself On A Date Under Any Circumstances
Ignore all the sappy advice about buying yourself a bouquet of flowers or a new book. It’s wrong. Remember, you quit dating. This rule applies to you too. I speak from experience.
I took myself out on a date last week to a show called “A Day in the Life of Miss Hiccup.” Who do you think walked into the theater? Yes, my ex-girlfriend. We looked at each other and laughed - uncomfortably (the same way some people laugh when they see a dog get hit by a car or the same way I laughed when I proposed to her and she looked at me like I was that car).
“Can I sit beside you?” she said.
I nodded. She sat down. We didn’t talk. I wanted to fly away. My date with myself was ruined. I wish I could say it was the emptiest hour of my life, but it was surreal watching a clown on stage separated from me by a fourth wall while sitting beside a clown I once loved separated by a similar wall that my love was never quite able to penetrate.
When I got home there was an email from her. It read: “Thank you for letting me sit beside you.” It was as loquacious as her Valentine’s email that read: "How's your intention holding out, Coleman? Could we do coffee?" (Read that Post >here)
I immediately thought of LLoyd Dobbler and the pen he received from the girl he was head over heels in love with. “She's gone,” Lloyd said. “She gave me a pen. I gave her my heart, she gave me a pen.”
Tip: Call the next person on your phone tree. Mine is an inventor named Jasper who makes his living as a professional Dumpster Diver and lives with Naomi, his girlfriend, a mannequin with one arm and no head. They met in a dumpster. Typically, when I call him late at night for advice he and Naomi are spooning and watching a movie on Netflix. When I go on the road to perform, I try to buy something nice for Naomi like face moisturizer or hand cream. “From now on, when you’re tempted to go out on a non-date,” he said, “I recommend a tether which is a rope-like restraint used as a safety measure, especially for young children and astronauts.”
5. Create a Capsule of Now and Blast it Out Into the World
We live in a new time where there is a new story related to self-improvement. Reclining on a therapist’s couch for 54 minutes and reading a new age book just won't cut it anymore. Our new cultural story of transformation is rooted in what the old world defines as narcissism - the rock star-dization of the world. You’re in control of your own rocket ship. Chronicle all of this on a blog, in a journal, in a daily video about your struggles.
Tip: In the words of LL Cool J, “Don't call it a comeback/ I been here for years / Makin the tears rain down like a MON-soon / Listen to the bass go BOOM.”
For a more developed social media picture on Slash Coleman, the author of this blog, check out all of Slash's adventures on: (Twitter: Twitter/SlashColeman - Facebook: facebook/slashcoleman - Pintrest: pintrest/slashcoleman)