Single people are like songs
Abandon scarcity mindset
This article was originally posted in my newsletter - the Tiff Weekly.
When I discover a song I really like, I like it so much that I listen to it on repeat and I can’t imagine wanting to listen to anything else. I’m like this when I start dating someone new I like: I forget all the people who I’ve liked before and I can’t imagine liking anyone else. My song on repeat is Cardi B’s WAP and the object of my most recent desires was a charming and aesthetically pleasing Italian man.
The Italian gave me all the heteronormative clues that he liked me: he suggested the plan, always booked, messaged regularly and picked up the bill. On our second date, he talked about how he was going to cook me proper Italian food for our third date the following week, and while I worried that maybe the pasta would be too al dente for my basic tastes, I was excited to see him again. Then he went silent. It took me a few days before I began to worry. I didn’t want to invite myself round but also wasn’t sure if he just wasn’t a texter or if this silence meant something. So, after a consultation in the pub with my mates, I messaged him: 🍝?
He replied quickly, apologised for the radio silence, blamed work being busy and said that we could meet: “maybe next week.” I said that while I was looking forward to getting to know him better, I’m looking for someone who’s more available than he seems to be, so this isn’t going to work for me. He said that he understood and was sorry. I was relieved I’d saved myself time and energy, but I was also disappointed. As my friends said: “he just didn’t have his light on.”
It’s always sadder when a short-term relationship ends: you’re still on the high of the early days, you haven’t become acquainted with their flaws and you grieve for the possibility of what could have been. When I like someone new and it doesn’t work out, I’m not bored of the song yet, I still want to listen to it on repeat.
When I get rejected, I can’t imagine liking anyone else and that quickly turns into the fear that I’ll never meet someone else that I like. This thought pattern places me into a scarcity mindset and it’s scarcity mindset that makes dating and the disappointments that come with it feel so grim.
From my experience, this scarcity mindset has particularly indoctrinated women in their 30s and above. A single woman recently said to me that she feels like online dating is like putting money into an almost-empty vending machine, where all the good snacks have already been taken. The belief in this scarcity mindset also lowers your belief in yourself —you’re saying you’re one of the leftovers, that you’re the last bounty bar, standing alone in the vending machine, slowly expiring.
Scarcity mindset has long been a tool of oppression for marginalised groups. It suits those in power if a scarcity mindset has people occupied by competing with each other, rather than dismantling a system which encourages such gross inequality. Resources aren’t scarce, it’s how they’re distributed which is the problem.
Abandoning the scarcity mindset and believing in abundance also makes the process, whether it’s work or dating more enjoyable. We repeatedly talk on the podcast about how if we seek to collaborate rather than compete with our working peers, we’ll enjoy a happier and more productive working life. And when it comes to dating, if I look at the evidence, the belief that there’s a scarcity of single people that I could fancy and get on with is simply not true. I just always forget about people when I don’t like them anymore. I forget that I was listening to another song on repeat merely weeks ago.
I’m overcoming my scarcity mindset by tapping into my inner teenager and at 32, I’ve started a diary, which so far has been almost exclusively about boys. I now use it as a reference to remind myself that it really wasn’t long ago when there was someone else I was excited by. This newsletter also is a helpful reminder of that, it was only at the beginning of last month that I was lamenting my frustration at being dumped.
Six months ago, I wrote about getting ghosted: “I spent most of Christmas crying over someone I didn’t even know existed before December.” I love re-reading this because I obviously am beyond over it now and I take a lot of comfort in thinking about these people from the past and how quickly a new one comes along which I approach with that same optimism.
That optimism won’t be shaken by the myth of a scarcity mindset. I choose to believe that there’s an abundance of people out there who I could like and that makes me enjoy the adventure of dating. I’m thankful that the internet brings them to me too, so I don’t have to pick up hobbies I think men would like or sit at bars hoping for a chance encounter.
There is an abundance of eligible single people, just as there’s an abundance of songs I like. And remember, that all songs that we love and listen to on repeat were new songs to us once.