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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, April 16

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Dating Thu Dec 15 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Making Yourself Happy

Previous Entry: "We Met on Match..."
Next Entry: Lessons Learned

I have promised myself to not make this a dating advice column mainly because I suck at dating. I've spent the past year making out with strangers in bars and deleting weird facial hair guy-cute?'s number from phone; these are not exactly stellar bachelorette moves here.

But what I have gotten pretty darn good at this past year is making myself happy or at least trying really really hard to make myself content. And the single biggest contributor to this new found sense of non-misery is realizing that my happiness does not depend on anyone else.

It sounds oddly kitschy and yet almost counterintuitive; the idea that you just need to find "the one" is something every rom-com tries to Katherine Heigl into us at every blockbuster. But the truth is nobody, not even that perfect-on-screen good ole boy/girl next door, is going to make you happy if you yourself are a steaming pile of pity and dread.

The "if I only find my soul mate" happiness trap is not reserved for the vagina-toting among us; I've seen just as many men folk as ladies fall into the trap.

Case in point from this lovely profile a fellow match goer found from a sad young man.

"Once again I step up to the plate and will probably strike out swinging but at least I'll die trying right? For every step forward, I take 3 steps back. I'm on a date or talking with a girl on the phone and things are going great. All of a sudden, she has to go and I never hear from her again leaving me confused and frustrated. Somehow I've managed to turn her off and I'll never find out why. For as long as I've been dating I seem to be quite ignorant. I'm probably the last guy you want to approach for dating advice... Most Friday and Saturday nights for me are spent at home watching TV or playing videogames with my family (that's right...I live at home on the southside and am saving up to buy the home I want. I'll be dammed if I'm going to waste my money on rent for some sleazy landlord). If I see a woman who appears into me I think of all the great things we can do together (not how quickly I can "hit" that). To be honest, having a woman in my life would be the only reason for me to go out and do stuff. "

I know this is an extreme case of sad sap (and if this is your profile, dear god sir please email and we will have some serious conversation about why you need to move out of your parents' house) but how many of us are really operating in this way and just not being honest about it? How many of us are waiting for the perfect person to find us or come back to us or dump their current partner and come running to us, thinking this will make us happy? Quite a few of us live in this familiar fairytale world of happily-ever-after.

But if you are not happy with your current self, lord knows you won't find that happiness in a relationship. Most likely you will end up still miserable and making another miserable in the process. Then you will both end up on Match in six months time and the whole lovely process will start all over again.

Instead before or even while you are searching for that one that makes your reproductive organs jump, find what makes your soul leap and do it. Find what the Anishinabe call the waabi (vision) and Oprah calls the golden self, the person you were made to be. Find what makes you gloriously happy even for fleeting moments. If that happens to be writing excruciatingly embarrassing details about your dating life and then posting it on the internet for your grandma and the world to see, well then do that!

To be clear, none of us are ever really "happily-ever-after." No one enters a relationship with a prince/ss charming/beauty crown already perched on their perfectly stable, happy and well adjusted head. And if they do, it will quickly be knocked off with the first drunken fight, pregnancy scare or parent-meet.

Once upon a time in a very non-fairytale world, I had a boyfriend tell me that he didn't know how I could love him since I had seen ALL his glorious faults, seen him in the midst of his rather unflattering quarter-life crisis. But my thought was how can you really love someone unless you see these things and still love them.

But years later I realize the real question is how can you, prince/ss, love yourself if you don't love your own faults?

I know I'm getting a little Oprah on all your asses.

The Oprah-certified truth is you will never be the final product of your perfect self even if you find your "golden self." There will always be new versions, current updates and shiny new applications of yourself. Hopefully, if you are a semi-interesting person, you will always be growing, changing, and discovering new parts of yourself. This happiness thing, it turns out, seems to be more of a journey than destination. (I may have just stolen that from one of my grandma's throw pillows.)

And occasionally you can even take this journey with someone. In rare cases you may even find them on Match.

In the process of writing this, I realized I'm more confused about how to make yourself happy than I currently thought. Perhaps it is time start watching Dr. Phil again or maybe a letter to Savage Love is in order. I'm sure this confusion is nothing that a threesome and some organic lube can't fix.

Excuse me I have to go. "Shorty with good stubble" is calling. This could be the one.


After much research and thorough investigation I have found the best NYE party... and then I quickly discovered it was out of my price range. My tip, stay home and get drunk with your cat and make sure you have new batteries handy. Or check out Gapers Block recommendations for some awesome NYE concerts. If I hadn't already invested in catnip and a trip to Tulip, I'd totally be heading to Chicago's own The Hood Internet concert at Lincoln Hall!

Previous Entry: "We Met on Match..."
Next Entry: Lessons Learned

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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