Dating is a tricky business. As soon as it begins as young adults, it can cause heartache and pain, but it can also bring you love, fun, sex, and pure joy. The tricky part is making it through unscathed, and if you read my post, #metoo, you know I didn’t necessarily have the best experience when I was young. Also, who knows what they want when they are young? Some people are lucky, and they meet the love of their life in high school, and that’s that. For most of us, it can be a bit harder to get it right. When you’re young, you’re just getting to know yourself, so finding love can be challenging because you are still finding yourself. When I was dating after heartache, I struggled to understand the point of dating someone unless I immediately saw them as husband material. I figured why bother with someone if they aren’t going to be mine forever. I think part of this was a way for me to protect myself, I had been through a lot of trauma with relationships, so I didn’t want to get vulnerable. The problem with that was, how was I supposed to know if someone was the one if I didn’t get to know them? I dated on the surface level for a long time and thought love was supposed to be like the romance I saw in movies, and let me tell you, it is so not like that.
“I think watching romantic comedy does significant damage to women’s idea of what dating should be like. We wait for this perfect man to sweep us off our feet, but the man of your dreams isn’t going to fall into your lap.”
I think watching romantic comedy does significant damage to women’s idea of what dating should be like. We wait for this perfect man to sweep us off our feet, but the man of your dreams isn’t going to fall into your lap. In a movie, within two hours, they go from a meeting to a happy ending; you don’t see the real stages of getting to know someone and their core values. The days of the “meet-cute” that we see in movies aren’t real, especially nowadays in this digital world. If you look around, people are carrying new digital shields, i.e., their phones that separate them from the actual human interactions in front of them. Social anxiety has spread like wildfire, and it’s no longer the norm to walk up to a stranger in an everyday setting and say hi. It’s most common in a bar setting, but what I learned after decades of dating, bars might not be the best environment to meet potential partners. It’s fun, and if that is all you’re looking for, then a bar is a great place, but finding a life partner, you may want to open up to some new venue choices. It’s easy to do that now with online dating.
The dating app’s age is upon us, so if you haven’t tried it and are looking for love, it might be time to change your strategy and get with the times. I jumped on this train early in New York because it seemed like a good idea. I spent years before New York dating, but it’s different in your college years. In college, you’re surrounded by potential matches, and there are many social settings to meet. We meet in class, at work, at bars, so the dating pool was vast and available. Plus, most people were the same age and looking for a somewhat similar experience. I wasn’t ready to meet my soul mate, and so I didn’t. I spent many of my college years single, drunkenly meeting guys, flirting, hooking up with some, but it was mostly harmless fun. There were a few that stuck, and of course, there were tears if it didn’t work out. Looking back now, it all makes sense as to why things didn’t work out, but that’s due to years of life experience and research on dating.
“Learning how to be on your own is an important life skill. To take care of yourself, rely on yourself, and get to know yourself is hugely empowering. It’s scary, that’s why people don’t do it.”
I say “harmless fun” because that’s what it feels like now, but I know it was much more at the time. I was searching for love and validation before I truly loved myself, and when you add in college-level partying, it doesn’t always make for a healthy path to love. No matter what, when it comes to finding a healthy relationship, loving yourself has to come first. I also hadn’t set my core values or what I wanted out of a relationship. I knew I wanted to be loved, but I don’t think I truly understood the magnitude of being a partner. Looking back, most of my behavior screamed that I didn’t want a relationship, yet I continued to “search” for one. I was happily single most of the time, yes, I’d get lonely, but I enjoyed my youth, freedom, and doing whatever I wanted. The issue was that society had brainwashed me into thinking that wasn’t good enough, and I needed “the relationship” to be happy. All I know is a lot of good came from being single. Some people are serial monogamists and to each their own, but I think it’s essential to spend time single in your life. Learning how to be on your own is an important life skill. To take care of yourself, rely on yourself, and get to know yourself is hugely empowering. It’s scary; that’s why people don’t do it.
Joining the dating scene in New York was exciting and intimidating, and it took me a few years to get into the game. What’s more important to recognize is it’s just that, to some people, a game. That’s the beauty of dating, everyone has different expectations, and you’re there to find someone whose expectations match yours. Expectations, however, are the biggest problem in the dating game. Dating and sex mean something different to everyone, and that’s where feelings start to get hurt. Going on a date can be a significant event for one party, yet the other isn’t taking it seriously. The difference in expectations can make waters murky if you don’t figure it out quickly. A difference in expectations was my issue all along; I fell hard for unavailable men. How do I know they were unavailable? It’s pretty easy to tell; they didn’t want to commit. Plain and simple. Back then, I avoided all the warning signs. I really can’t even say “back then”; this went on up until I hit a breaking point before my current relationship.
“That’s the beauty of dating, everyone has different expectations, and you’re there to find someone whose expectations match yours.”
As little girls, we were taught that if a boy was mean to you, he had a crush on you. Worst lie you’ve ever been told, and as we get older as women, we are drawn toward ass holes or the bad boys. They can be fun, exciting, and sexy; however, if they don’t make you a priority, they aren’t the ones we should cry over. We shed tears wondering what is “wrong with us” and why they won’t commit or don’t love us. Guess what? It has nothing to do with YOU. It has everything to do with them. Not being ready, being selfish, being a forever bachelor, whatever his story is. If he can’t give you what you want, move on. You remember that sex in the city episode where Miranda says something like; men are like cabs. They can drive around “dating” forever with their lights off, and they won’t commit to any woman. Then when their light turns on, they marry the next woman they are with. It’s true; if they aren’t ready, no matter how great you are, they aren’t committing. I went after unavailable men also because it was a safe bet. Safe that they wouldn’t commit to me and hurt me, I knew what I was getting, so it allowed me to remain safe and single for years. Finally, I realized when I turned 34 that I couldn’t blame anyone for my singleness but myself. For once, I put my foot down, got clear about what I wanted, and didn’t settle for anything less.
You’ll never change a man, and it’s honestly not worth it. Being treated like anything less than a queen is unacceptable, which can mean different things for different relationships. When I finally got into a real relationship with mutual love, I had to let myself be loved, which is a difficult task, but once you’ve experienced real love, you’ll never go back to chasing the f*ckboys. It’s not to say I didn’t have nice boyfriends in my past; I did, but now looking at a real-life partner, it’s on a whole new level. No matter what type of relationship you are looking for, whether you are happily single, dating, monogamous, open, you have to do what’s truly best for you. You can’t listen to everyone else’s idea of a happy relationship, but my advice to you is to stop dating assholes and expecting a different result. Stop looking for perfection in a partner. Your dream partner might arrive and be different than what you pictured, so when you meet someone who treats you well, give that person a shot. Don’t give any more of your time, body, or energy to anyone who doesn’t deserve it. If the thought of losing you isn’t enough to inspire them, then fuck ’em. I spent years listening to and reading Matthew Hussey, and if you are a single gal looking for love, he’s a great resource.
No matter who you are, you are worthy and deserving of the love you desire. I wish I would have seen my value so much earlier, but I went through my journey to meet my partner, and it all happened the way it was supposed to. If you are struggling, maybe there is something you need to learn before you find love. Trust me; it’s worth the wait.