Dating is hard. It just is. For most of us, its a means to a more committed end, and so we endure it, but sometimes dating is just the worst. I’m not talking “dating” like a relationship. I’m talking guy meets girl, guy asks girl on date, both spend the evening nervously trying not to throw up, guy says he’ll call girl, girl spends next week making list of reasons that he hasn’t. Repeat.
For someone like me who is so commitment focused, the entire dating process can seem unbearable. You’ll often find me with my arms crossed, pouty face on (its super cute, you should see it), exclaiming that I’m never doing it again. But the reality is that to get to that commitment, I have to open myself up to meeting someone new. And in order to do that, I need to trudge ahead into the unpredictable, uncomfortable world of going on dates.
I’m not sure that dating is particularly easy for anyone truly looking for a relationship, but there are four general life lessons that I’ve learned that, if applied, may make dating more tolerable, and dare I say, even fun. Putting them into practice is a work in progress, so this is just as much a post for me as anyone else:
1. Sometimes, doing something with only the expectation of having fun is ok:
No really, it’s true. This has probably been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn. Its human nature to apply expectations to a situation, but when it comes to dating, expectations can suck all the fun out of spending time just getting to know another human being. The ultimate goal of finding someone to spend your life with isn’t lost just because you spend an enjoyable evening with someone who might not be “the one”. And even if you don’t have fun because your date talks of nothing but their exes, you’ll probably end up with a good story that your friends can have fun with at your expense. Someone always wins.
2. Don’t get ahead of yourself:
Relaxing and having fun is far easier when you aren’t planning your wedding on the first date. This is an exaggeration of course (so please stop picturing me flipping through bridal magazines at the table), but the point is that you can’t get ahead of yourself. Expecting every first date to lead to something more leads to far more disappointment than you deserve. Especially if your date isn’t on the same page with naming your children before the entrée is served.
3. Timing really is everything, and it really does exist:
I’m a go-getter. I see things I want and I find a way to get them. But when it comes to a lot of things in life, especially dating, timing really is everything, and sometimes it gets in the way. People aren’t always in the same place in life, even if it feels like they should be, and regardless of the feelings that might be involved, one or both of you might just not be ready. The Supremes weren’t lying when they said “You can’t hurry love”.
4. You just can’t take it personally:
Don’t laugh. I know this is far easier said than done across all relationships in life, but to survive the dating experience, you have to accept this to be true. When someone doesn’t seem that into us, we all make a list of reasons why. We assume there must be something wrong. But we are all made so differently, it doesn’t even make sense that everyone will always like us. Sometimes its not you, and its not them. Its just not right.
I’m sure that no matter how many times I read this blog myself, or how many times people remind me to practice what I preach, some part of me will always hate the dating process. But if I can instill even one of these lessons in myself, I may look back on my years of dating as a time of growth and fun, instead of frustration and investment in the Ben and Jerry’s corporation. I hope you’ll find a way to do the same.