Amongst my core group of single girlfriends there is a pretty even divide when it comes to the topic of dating. Some of my girls really enjoy the dating scene, meeting new people, and all that it entails, while others loathe the idea of sitting across from a practical stranger making small talk in an attempt to see if “something’s there.”
I fall somewhere smack in the middle of that spectrum.
There have been times in the last few years when I absolutely loved dating. Putting on a sassy dress and flirty heels, trying on new lipstick, and going into the evening with an air of pure optimism. And then there were periods of time when you couldn’t pay me to get off of my couch and go on a date. Not for anyone. But, I think that is a completely normal cycle.
Our focus and moods shift.
With luck, I can honestly say I’ve had some pretty good experiences when it comes to dating in my late twenties. Of course I’ve run into the occasional guy [that I actually really liked] who didn’t know what they wanted/wasn’t ready for a relationship/insert any other obligatory excuse. But that’s a small fraction of the great guys that I’ve dated. I am certainly not a serial dater. In fact, I usually only like one person a year. Weird, I know. But it’s true. It takes a lot for me to really vibe with someone. Especially at this stage in life, when I think-well I know-it’s fine to be picky. We are talking about people who could potentially be a life partner.
Crushes are easy, and they’re fun. Those come and go for me. Light and airy. But it’s extremely rare for me to genuinely like someone in a non-platonic way. And I’m okay with that. Because when I do, it’s special. In the last four years I’ve dated four guys. I wasn’t kidding about rarely connecting with people on a romantic level. I think it’s a blessing and a curse. I definitely don’t waste anyone’s time, but it can be daunting waiting to click with the next person. Admittedly I don’t have any horrible dating stories or gossip worthy disasters to tell. But I can definitely share some of the lessons that I’ve learned over my dating journey.
Be honest with yourself and what you’re looking for in a partner.
Surely, we know what we’re looking for in someone and we certainly know the non-negotiables when it comes to dating. Not the superficial aspects of a person, but those core values and similarities that are important to share.These are obviously different for everyone. If something is important to you and you’re not willing to compromise in that area then don’t. And it’s only fair to have that same respect for the person you’re seeing. Once I stopped settling or trying to force things to work, dating became much easier and more enjoyable for me.
Don’t waste people’s time.
If it’s not there, that’s fine. But let the person know and move on. Don’t drag out the inevitable. And don’t hold on to someone just because they’re a “catch.” Sometimes feelings grow, but my most successful dating experiences have started with an instantaneous spark. I’ve learned that someone can be great, and check all the boxes on your list, but that doesn’t mean they are your person. This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and there are relationships I certainly let linger way too long.
You really can be friends.
I feel extremely fortunate to say that the last few guys I’ve dated have been pretty awesome. And I’m still good friends with two of them, which makes me very happy. They are great people, and I feel blessed to still have them in my life. If you’re dating someone obviously you like them as a person. And just because a situation doesn’t workout in a romantic capacity, doesn’t mean you have to dismiss that person from your life forever. Unless they deserve it. Then by all means, bye.
The Friend Zone
This is definitely my area of weakness when it comes to dating. I can never tell if someone actually likes me or if they’re just being friendly. So I pretty much put everyone in the Friend Zone. Bad, I know. I can go on a wonderful date, and to everyone else it would be very obvious that there is an interest, but I would still have no idea. Just spell it out for me, please. 🙂
Everything isn’t all roses, though. Of course I’ve been hurt and disappointed by people who I thought genuinely cared about me, but that doesn’t define my dating experience. It’s only part of it. I will say dating in Austin can be a real struggle because this is such. a. fun. city. And with that comes the Peter Pan Syndrome. Basically, guys living in Never Never Land with no real desire to grow up or get past the superficial stage of dating. Obviously, this is a broad generalization and not, by any means, indicative of every [or even most] men in Austin. And this could be true of dating in any laid-back city. Right?
Dating doesn’t have to be a negative experience, and it shouldn’t be. There are great guys everywhere. I think sometimes we, as women, have a tendency to say, “There are no good guys out there.” But that’s just not true. Yes, I’ve been burned, but once I started reevaluating the type of men that I allowed in my life dating just got better.
Take your time. Choose wisely. And if you want to stay home and have a glass of Riesling instead of going on a date…do it.