How I Finally Left My Dating Drama Behind and Found a Healthy Relationship

In late 2014, a girlfriend and I were complaining about our dating lives over dinner, and the takeaway was as crystal clear as my sad, empty wine glass: Dating was bringing me down. I’d spent the past year swiping right, sending winks, flirty texting, and giggling on command—and all I got in return were a few lousy OKCupid stories and a confidence level that can most accurately be described as the polar opposite of Donald Trump’s. After dinner, my friend and I dove into some kind of sexy lava cake situation and agreed: We’re leaving all of our bad date drama in 2014, and in 2015, we’d both find successful, happy relationships. And—would you believe it?—we both did.

This story sounds a bit hokey and right now you’re likely in the middle of rolling your eyes and resisting the urge to check your Bumble notifications, but, on the off chance that you’re reading this because you want to know how I did it, I’m more than happy to tell you.

Step One: Learning How to Be Blissfully Alone

Up until recently I’ve had an irrational fear of being alone. I consider myself to be very social, but I’m also a closet introvert, thriving off of a full weekday schedule of no after-work plans that allows for session after session of Netflix and chill...by myself. But while I was binge dating and growing used to being rejected (and I’ll admit: sometimes just being too darn picky), I couldn’t escape the feelings of failure, loneliness, and of not being loveable.

Allison with two ice cream cones.
Photograph courtesy of Allison Berry

These feelings weren’t entirely the fault of the truly terrible guys I spent my time going out with. After all, I was the one looking for personal failures in what are actually totally modern dating rituals. In my mind, a dud of a conversation wasn't a lack of common interests, but a sign that I was socially awkward. An unanswered text translated into me not being pretty enough. And if at the end of the night I didn't get the option of a goodnight kiss? My friends would be picking up shards of my shattered confidence for days. The common thread stringing these thoughts together: the dates I’d been telling myself would lead me to my soul mate. So, one by one, I deleted my dating apps and profiles, and learned instead to focus on what I loved about myself. By the time I’d returned to New York City after spending the holidays with my family, I’d begun feeling content with the life I was living and proud of the person I was. And then I met Kevin.

Step Two: Knowing When to Say Goodbye

Well, actually Kevin and I had met in college. We made out at a bar once, had a lot of mutual friends, and he’d just moved to the city, so the two of us met up for drinks. He was as charming as I’d remembered and, after a few weeks of semi-flirty texting and awkwardly avoiding eye contact while out with friends, Kevin and I entered into a perfectly unhealthy six-ish month relationship

"I couldn’t escape the feelings of failure, loneliness, and of not being loveable."

As it turns out, even though I felt ready to be in a relationship, I had no grasp on who it should be with. Kevin and I spent our entire relationship picking fights, breaking up and getting back together. For the first couple of breakups, I felt that I was learning to be in a big-girl relationship. I wrote off our drama as normal “couple stuff,” and worked to move onward and upward to become some kind of relationship Wonder Woman. By the fourth time, I’d realized the whole thing was just the plot line to a bad chick flick and confidently broke it off once and for all after a lame text messaging spat about when we were going to hang out that week. So, by the end of summer I was again blissfully alone, relishing my singledom and resuming my solo Netflix binges. Then, about two weeks after that, I met Robert.

Step Three: Putting It All Together

Robert is a co-worker of a close friend of mine and while we’d originally met at a housewarming party over the summer, we reconnected during an end-of-summer trip to a beer garden with mutual friends and have been consciously, happily coupled ever since. He is completely wonderful, and I’m thankful to know I wouldn’t have seen his value had I not already focused on knowing my own.

Allison and Robert
Allison and 'Robert.' Photograph courtesy of Allison Berry

Timing is obviously the factor that is out of my control here, but I consider the important thing to be that I was able to regain control over my confidence. Though my relationship with Kevin will ultimately go down as a failure, I’m grateful to have gone through an experience that taught me the value of my independence, and for a relationship that proved all of those cheesy movie lines to be true: I deserve someone loving and respectful. And I deserve to be at peak happiness levels both in and out of a relationship.

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