Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me – or so the old adage goes. But what if you’ve been fooled more times than you can count? Or even worse…what if you’ve just been fooling yourself? These are the fun thoughts that run through your mind when you’re a 20-something and attempting to navigate the treacherous world of dating. “Treacherous?!”, you say, slightly baffled by my perhaps hyperbolic description of what is supposed to be a *super fun* pastime that involves drinks, laughs and suggestive glances. Exaggerate I do not. Love is indeed a battlefield, my friends. And one must share their war stories in order to get out of the trenches.
This year I’ve really put myself out into the dating world, which I have shied away from in the past. I’ve used Tinder, I’ve gone on dates with complete strangers, I’ve given my digits out, gotten numbers in return, and I’ve been open to whatever may come my way. For the record – I have not been doing these things because I am desperate for a man, but because – HELLO! – what’s better than having someone you like (preferably who you think is cute and have things in common with) and who likes you, to spend your time with? Unfortunately for me, things have yet to work out.
Many of these encounters have included totally dreamy dudes, who are hilarious, handsome, clever, great kissers, and who I have, like, totally crushed on. Others have been scoundrels and had girlfriends (unbeknownst to me when they asked if they could kiss me and proceeded to do so, with gusto) who promptly disappeared off the face of the earth upon me reaching out. Another handful – as it turned out – weren’t ready for a ‘relationship’ (SIDEBAR: What in God’s name do these men think the ever elusive and horrifying ‘relationship’ actually entails, because as far as I can tell there’s very little *seriousness* involved other than having a person guaranteed to be there for movies/support/pizza/venting/hooking up. Scary, right? Who wants that?) All that venting aside – not being ready for a relationship is totally fair and as legitimate a reason as they come – but a) don’t use that as excuse to ghost, just be honest and straight forward and b) just make it clear before anyone’s feelings get hurt or someone comes away feeling used.
These, let’s call them learning experiences, have left me wondering what the point of dating actually is? Clearly I missed the memo. If it’s only for the sake of having someone to go home with at closing time (cue Semisonic) then, no thanks, I’ll pass. Despite me behaving like a (what I thought was) normal human in these situations (simply looking for some sort of connection and a pleasant time with a worthy adversary) I’m the one left feeling pathetic, naïve, and above all else – once again – duped! Many questions are always left lingering – Did I do something wrong? Are these guys emotionally stunted? Do I expect too much? Am I being used? Does my charm have a best before date? Do I not have any charm at all (gasp, say it ain’t so)? Why aren’t I good enough? Am I desperate?
I’ve decided it’s high time to banish such thoughts and instead keep on truckin’ (albeit not unscathed and not without the usual addition of some emotional baggage – them’s the breaks). As of late, I’ve come to many new realizations regarding dating (eg. unless stated otherwise you expect a bit more than the bare minimum in attention and commitment), but the most significant pearl of wisdom I’ve gleaned is this – being vulnerable, open to new people, and wanting to see where things go doesn’t make you pathetic. It makes you human. It makes you hopeful. And it makes you brave. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with those things – they should be your raison d’être. Women who feel weak from their vulnerability should realize that this is an earthly gift they’re able to tap into; while men need to realize that avoiding vulnerability, remaining at arm’s length and refusing to miss out on any and all prospects Tinder has to offer is really selling themselves short. We all deserve more credit, and more out of the human experience than what we’re getting/giving.
I’ve put together a collection of songs that make me feel rad as hell. When I listen to these tunes, and I’m walking down the street, I am instantly met with a rush of confidence and feelings of awesomeness. Prepare your very own *Hear Me Roar* playlist or simply have a listen to mine any time you need reminding that you too are *the shit* (and do not require an endless amount of right swipes as proof).
I fully realize that I am the common denominator in these equations and that perhaps I am in fact the problemo (it could very well be that I’m not as amazing as my parents claim I am). Also, yes, not all men are like this, and not all women are like me. I’m just generalizing based on mine and my friends’ experiences.