After a year and a half of watching beautiful people in my life tormented by the opposite sex, either through Tinder, Match or at the watering hole (and going through the same stuff myself), I had what I would deem a mini-breakdown (“mini” is relative).
I couldn’t bear to listen to or have to tell another story about how a woman friend zones a good man or a man pulls his privates out in the car after an innocent first kiss (this was a real story). So in typical PhD fashion, I have been doing a little research for the past few months. I have been questioning all of my friends and co-workers (unbeknownst to them) about their dating lives and taking notes. I have also been trying to grasp my patterns and see what I am doing wrong, since my Mom always says, ”You are the common denominator amongst all these experiences.” Touché’, Mom, touché’.
So here is my $.02, which, as we all know, means nothing, but I do think it is more interesting than that recent cat article I just saw on Facebook.
One relationship over two years.
Three relationships over six months.
Probably 200 first dates (150 bad, and 50 me missing good opportunities because I was immature or a spoiled brat).
1. You will only get the level and type of love that you think you deserve.
I spent a lot of time (probably from age 26-30) accepting less than what I deserved. I wasn’t getting less than I deserved in the sense that I am more valuable than any other being, but simply because my effort and my heart were in better and more giving places than the other person at the time. Getting what you deserve doesn’t always mean checking off your checklist or even always being happy, but it means that you are both giving the same effort, enjoying the same emotions, and growing together.
2. Focus on if you like him/her, not if he/she likes you.
It’s easy to wonder about the object of your affection and how they feel about you. It’s also easy for us to obsess about why he/she didn’t call us back. However, have you ever stopped and asked yourself if you even really care what they are feeling about you? Often, I find myself curious if a man is interested in me, completely ignoring that I really don’t find him that exciting myself.
So stop needing validation and stop being upset with people who aren’t interested in you when you aren’t even really interested in them.
3. Loving yourself isn’t an end state, but a constant journey.
If you go to Huffpost or Askaman (or any of those other terrible dating advice websites), they often suggest that loving yourself must come before you can give real love. I don’t disagree completely with this, but if you try to get there completely before you find someone, you will be waiting a long time. Realize that loving yourself is an ongoing process. We all have days that we aren’t exactly feeling ourselves…maybe our butt isn’t as cute as it was on Monday or our job sucks, but that comes and goes.
Just love your flawed self and give yourself grace the days you don’t.
4. Online dating isn’t worse than “real” dating, it simply increases your odds of meeting people that are and aren’t worth your time.
Online dating has simply magnified the ability to get in front of a new date every night. One of my friends recently said “Man, I had really bad dates today.” I responded with, “Excuse me, did you say dates, as in plural?” We both found it hilarious, and true, which made it even more hilarious. We are just getting a lot more face time with the weirdoes we probably wouldn’t have met without these online sites.
Tinder, for example, gave me 2,365 men (and counting) within 20 miles and between ages 30 and 40. There’s a pretty good chance there’s a few weirdoes in there.
5. The level of respect shouldn’t decrease just because you’ve decided you aren’t interested in the person.
Whether it is a first date or a 70th date, when you have decided you aren’t interested, you treat that person as you would a friend. If it’s a first date, you sit through that date (as long as they are also respectful), make small talk, make it enjoyable, respect the person. Don’t ignore them or get up and walk out. Ladies, if you aren’t interested, pay for your half. If it’s the 70th date, don’t just ghost (disappear) or slowly make yourself unavailable. Tell the person you aren’t interested. It sucks to say this to anyone, but you suck more if you coward out and take the selfish route.
6. We all know there is no perfect gal/guy, but there is a perfect feeling.
Don’t stop looking for that. You aren’t expecting too much if you are simply looking for that special feeling.
7. In our world of instant gratification, relationships are work.
Those couples that make a decision every day to be together are the ones that show true love. All couples wake up in love some mornings, then other mornings wake up, roll over and think “f%$# my life.” The ones that make it are the ones that chose to do what is good, respectful, and kind for their lover on those days. That may mean going to hang out with their boys or going to a coffee shop to read, but it doesn’t mean going to Tinder or the local bar.
8. You will not love the person the same every day.
You don’t love your spouse or children the same every day. Being human is the definition of being emotional. Stop expecting to feel madly in love every day. There are days I want to divorce some of my family, but I don’t because I know that I will love them and miss them too much the next day. Own the fact that you are emotional and your feelings are dynamic, sometimes day to day, sometimes minute to minute.
9. Excuses are unacceptable.
“I’m too busy.” “She’s too intimidating.” These are bullshit (sorry, Mom). For the right person and right feeling, we should drop everything (of course to a certain level). This life is short and filled with people that are bad, hurtful, and untrusting. If you meet someone that is good, and that makes you feel good, hold on to them. Don’t make excuses. Making someone feel like a low priority is the quickest way to kill butterflies.
10. Slow down and keep a little mystery.
What did we used to do when we only had home phones? Well, I talked to my boyfriend at night for a short while (until my father kicked me off my basketball shaped phone that was attached to 992-LISA), and I saw him once a week. We never cancelled or flaked because once you left the house, that was it. There were no “wait twice as long to text back” or “3 day” rules. We simply were together, then missed each other, then were together. There was still some mystery because without Facebook or text, he had no idea that I had went to the mall, brushed my teeth, or eaten Subway (which are all actual Facebook posts I have seen). There is something lovely and alluring about a soul that is present when they are with you and misses you when they aren’t. Find that.
Author: Lisa Beeler
Apprentice Editor: Megan Ridge Morris / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Don Hankins/Flickr