Dating purgatory: You won’t always be in it, but it sure lasts long enough

So, as most dating stories start, you’re kind of interested in someone; they’re kind of interested in you. Some characteristics of theirs may be holding you back, or vise versa. After much ado (dull, aimless texting or Facebook chatting back and forth for weeks), you both finally decide to hang out. You may even get coffee. No food will touch your lips during these meet-ups because eating food together implies commitment, I guess.

Whether the “hangout” went well or not – “well” meaning whether it lived up to or exceeded your expectations (or lack thereof) – nothing seems to happen after said get-together. Heck, it was never even called a real date in the first place, which is usually a bad omen of confusing signals and horrendous communication to come.

A few days go by. Neither of you have texted each other because she’s hoping to be pursued and is waiting for him to “be a man” and text first, and he’s trying to “be a man” by coming off as slightly uninterested, trying not to expose weakness and want, or something to that effect. Both are playing the game of hard-to-get, in one knotty way or another.

Eventually, one of them will break down and text the other, a small explosion of half-cathartic, half-defeated emotions releasing throughout their body after hitting send. You proceed to analyze how long it took them to text you back.

At this point in your weird connection (I’m calling it a “connection” because you’re nothing, even though you’re something), it’s all about you. You don’t know them well enough to trust them at all with your emotional well-being, you’re trying to save your pride, and you know you’re in the midst of a game, like it or not.

Some people love these games. Others, like myself, much prefer telephone Pictionary and Zelda.

Unfortunately, even those who hate mind games, dating games – whatever you like to call them – can find themselves in similar situations.

I’ve dubbed this tumultuous state as “dating purgatory” (I purposely haven’t Googled this term, for fear that it already exists) because you’re stuck in the same place for quite some time, but you won’t be there forever. This semi-relationship of nothingness-but-somethingness will, at some point, either take a sharp turn for the worst or for the better.

Oftentimes, this annoying phase can last anywhere from a few months to a few years. But please, if it lasts longer than six months, just run away. Stop talking to them because even dating purgatory shouldn’t last longer than that. At the very least, have some sort of conversation on why the nothing-somethingness isn’t good enough for either of you, even if other prospects aren’t in sight for miles.

Yes, there are exceptions, but very few. If she lives half a world away and the timing just isn’t right, that’s one thing. It’s an entirely different story when he lives 10 minutes away and doesn’t hang out with you more than once every two months because he’s too busy doing nothing (there’s that word again), when, actually, he’s purposely spreading each meeting out because he doesn’t want the nothing-somethingness to appear as more of a somethingness than it really is.

It’s amazing how dramatic this state of being can feel – how much it beats down on your nerves. You’re not getting anywhere, and at the rate you’re going, a slug passed you on the road eight months ago and got married.

You wonder how you even got to this point in your life, accepting bits of attention from someone here and there, knowing it’s not a positive presence in your life, but wanting it, nevertheless. You may blame it on the fact that you’re romantically bored, which still seems like a seat in first class, compared to being truly desperate. You’re still picky, but you’re vulnerable and lonely. It doesn’t matter how many friends you have. You’re still a party of one. You only have your stuffed animals to cuddle with, and sometimes, you even pretend they’re eating the popcorn with you as they sit next to you on the couch (I hope someone does this, anyway. That would be really hilarious, however sad).

Dating sites embarrass you, and besides that, they tend to drip in creepiness, so you’re not ready for that. For some reason, you, in a way, settle for someone who strings you along. You know you’re in a long lull of excitement, so some something is better than much nothing, right? (Such something. Much nothing. Many hurts. Wow.)

Ultimately, what we all should ask ourselves in situations like these are the following questions:

  • How am I treating them?
  • How am I being treated?
  • Do I generally feel happy or sad, excited or stressed by my current situation?
  • Why are they stringing me along? (It’s one of the ultimate questions that you may or may not be able to answer, but ask it anyway.)
  • What’s the point of willingly going through all this, and are those points even worth my time and energy?
  • How is this situation psychologically messing up my feelings of worth, of being of value?
  • How is this situation messing up their feelings of self-worth and of feeling valued?
  • And, in my case, since I’m a Christian, “WWJD?” I lost my bracelet in eighth grade, but that is still the question I should be asking myself in every aspect of my day-to-day life. I’m really bad at resembling Christ, but I’m a work in progress.

Just for my sake, please let me know if you decide to lie on a chaise while asking yourself these questions. That would be so great.

Have you experienced dating purgatory? How did you resolve the situation, or did it just dissolve on its own, like so many of them do?


My next post will be on why “value” and “worth” are two of the most important words in life, and why you should think about their meaning more than you do.


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