04/04/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Maybe I'm Not So Bad at Dating

Lately, my mantra is: "I'm bad at dating." Part of my identity seems to be wrapped around this idea. Sometimes, I think I enjoy being the person in the room with the funniest (aka "most pathetic") dating stories. On a recent night out with friends, another woman was about to share an entertaining story of her own, but after hearing me, she raised a white flag and surrendered, saying, "You win. I can't top that."

But is that really winning? When it comes to men, do I want something more than just funny stories to tell? Can I have more?

My friends think so. In between laughing with me (or possibly even at me), they often say that I am actually quite good at dating. They say I have a quick reaction time. As soon as I see a red flag (or red banner as mentioned in the last post here), I won't stick around and try to change a guy. If I know it isn't right, I move on -- and fast. Sometimes, I am so quick that I never even meet the guy (also mentioned in the last post). I won't settle, so I won't go out on a second and third date with someone if I know it's not going to work out. I guess you could say I am a serial first-time dater.

The question then becomes: why do I keep attracting men who I only want to go out with once? Or even more specifically, am I actually choosing to date these guys in an effort to squeeze out the chance of having the real thing with someone? In my current online dating experience, two different friends have watched me as I sorted through messages from interested men. Both friends said that I seem to gravitate toward the ones who won't last. One friend actually made me -- or rather "heavily encouraged me to" -- respond to someone I usually would have just deleted. And how did that make me feel? Afraid.

I admit it. I am scared of getting into a real relationship with a guy who I could really be with. I am scared I will lose myself like I have done before. (My new song, I Miss Me, is about this.) I am afraid of losing my independence and feeling suffocated. I am terrified of getting hurt. I am tired of getting close to the right thing with a man (getting my hopes up), and then having it not work out. And I don't want to be de-friended by yet another guy on Facebook!

Maybe I'm not ready to change my status on Facebook to "in a relationship," but I think I am ready to keep a friend. And maybe that's where it should start anyway. Some people say that love relationships and even marriage are just about being with your best friend. That doesn't sound too bad -- not too scary. In fact, that seems like an experience where I would have room to breathe and possible even flourish. What if being with the right person feels calm and natural? What if it feels good?

I have to believe that it does. What I have learned from talking with people across the country about life and relationships is that we have to believe things can change before they will. Nothing changes if nothing changes.

I am working on changing. I am trying to be more vulnerable and open with my heart. Don't worry. I will still keep you entertained with funny dating stories. But I am going to try to share some not-so-funny stories as well. I hope to tell you about guys I really like and who have the potential of something long-term.

Why am I posting all of this online? If you have read my books, you know that I write about what I am most learning in life. Writing is a healing process for me. Plus, you guys have great comments on this topic and are a whole lot cheaper than therapy! Please share more of your thoughts here.

Single in Music City,

This piece is in a series I am posting related to dating. You will also find this series on my Facebook Notes page. (There are already some great comments posted on Facebook from others!) If you have dated me and you are reading this, thanks for being a part of my experience. This is all in good fun! I am grateful.