Sunset over Batt's Rock, Barbados

I was recently convinced to go back on Tinder.  I lasted a week.  It wasn’t even because I was bored of the email conversations or the state of the dating pool in my age range.  [The struggle is real.]  It was because of the way that it made me feel.

Being on Tinder makes me feel like I am searching for something.  Searching through the profiles for a hint of attraction, a profile that I may find interesting, or even someone that I could see myself with.   It is the seeking that somehow makes me feel as though what I have isn’t good enough.

I think that it is natural to want a relationship.  It is also natural for some to not want one.  For many of us, there is an instinctual draw to be with someone.   A problem occurs when, whether we want a relationship or not, we are told that we need to be in one to be valued.

These messages are subtle but pervasive.  They start when we are a little girl and watch the princesses saved by the prince.  They continue as teenagers and young adults when we watch the rom coms and see over and over how the less popular teenager wins approval by dating the most popular teenager of the opposite sex.  It continues with commercials, shows, and movies that sell that the only successful ending is when the man and woman find love (even when they hated each other at the beginning of the story).

It gets worse when a sense of urgency is added.  For some, women especially, this is linked to wanting to have children and there being a limit to child-bearing years, if they want to do this in a partnership.  Turning to Tinder and other on-line dating apps can amplify this.  The notion that I cannot wait to find someone in my natural environment, but need to seek someone out, even if it means participating in a forum that I don’t particularly enjoy.

Another question: Why aren’t you actively out there trying to find someone? [This is said in many ways to varying degrees of subtlety.]

My answer:  Because I am exhausted, and I am disillusioned.

Barbados waters are just as beautiful from the air.

Then comes Valentine’s Day.  It’s not a big deal in Barbados. I think that I avoid and dread it based on past programming.  For me, it is a reminder that I am single…see above for a discussion about messages that this is not ok.

This year I received beautiful Happy Valentine’s messages from my friends, men, and women, in Canada and Barbados.  They took the opportunity, not to remind me that I was single, but to say I love you.

I went through a phase when I would go into the card shop and buy cards that I would one day give to someone that I was in a relationship with.  On one occasion, I found a card that said this:

She used to look for love all around her.  One day, she realized that to find love, you had to be love.  That was the day she stopped looking.

I carry this greeting card with me.  It was shipped from my storage unit to my home in Barbados, where I finally understand its meaning.

To my friends who reached out to me on Valentine’s Day, and many other random days, you are the reason that I have stopped searching.  You are the love that surrounds me.

Back on the water - my happy place. Keeping the splint on my finger and easing back on the 8 ft.

Barbados - my island.