Why there wasn’t a second date

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My heart broke a little as I read the March Love Letter from a man who wanted a second date but didn't get one. When I got the part where the woman said, "I'm just not in the right frame of mind ..." I realized, this might be me! Not to bring something so bleak and heavy to this situation, but a recent date I went on went just like this. And here's what's "really going on." I'm 36 and have struggled with an eating disorder for over a decade.

I am one of those people who appears to have her life together, and actually gets along quite easily and genuinely with co-workers and other people I might encounter throughout my day. I love to laugh, have a career I am passionate about, am decent looking, up to date on current events, educated, etc. I actually used to be quite sociable. I don't have any close friends left because I don't like doing things that might throw things out of balance. I haven't dated in three years.

I don't seem to be hitting a "bottom" that might serve to prompt change, and have worked hard at therapy for years, with no changes. Today, I've grown tired and ambivalent. I feel that maybe I'm OK with "cutting my loses." I just don't really see any other version of myself than this one. My psychiatrist says I need a disruption – which could involve dating. My stance was "I will date once I'm better," but he reminds me that life doesn't work like that.

Recently, I did have a date. And it was fun. We did have a really good time. We laughed and talked about all kinds of things. It was genuine communication. But then I got home, and just ... it just wasn't quite enough. So I kept quiet, via text, and finally was clear about opting out, saying something about not being in the right frame of mind. I know that healthy dating isn't about looking for someone to "save" you. I just feel like life is passing so quickly; maybe there is someone out there, with a light inside, that I just connect with. And then things change in a way I can't even conceive of yet. But I don't want to like, victimize, these poor guys, like the letter writer. What do you think? How messed up is too messed up to just, go on a standard, run-of-the-mill date with someone who appeals to you? Thanks.

– Questioning


First, a reminder that I am not a licensed anything. It's important that you get guidance from professionals here. If you think you're hitting a wall with your care, find out what other opportunities might be available.

My advice columnist take is that life doesn't always give you big highs and lows. You mention that you haven't hit a bottom that prompts change, but ...  maybe that's not how it works. Maybe asking these questions – and writing this letter – is part of your progress. Similarly, you might not get a perfect first-date moment where you see that someone has a "light inside." From my experience, lights don't show up until later. People use the word "spark" for a reason. It starts as that — something small — and then it grows.

Thank you for reminding us that rejection isn't always about us, and that the people we date might have very personal reasons for not wanting to see us again. It's important for you to know that the people you date also have complex brains. It might not have been easy for them to show up, even if they're smiling and making it look easy. If you do pursue more run-of-the-mill dates (while getting guidance from professionals), please know that the process is as much about you getting to know them as it is about them understanding and accepting you.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts? (Respectful ones, please.)