What’s a date nowadays anyway? Does Netflix and chill count if you’re legitimately chillin’?
Back in the day, a guy would give a girl his varsity jacket, and they would go steady. They would go get milkshakes and dance the night away at the sock hop…
I tend to look at this whole dating game from a very black and white point of view. While yes, grey areas exist (sometimes 50 shades of them), a polarized perspective helps to shed light on these shadowy spots.
Not only is my perspective made up of millennials swiping left and right, I have a glimpse into the 50+ dating scene with my mom being a single fish in a world of plenty of them.
What I learned: it doesn’t matter what age you are, a careful combination of these things will dictate your dating habits:
The Ghosts of Relationships Past
You can’t change the past, but you have a say in how it affects your future. In the world of ex’s, there are two main types:
The one who leaves you optimistic
These are the relationships that ended for the right reasons. There was a mutual love and respect for each other, allowing you to walk away- self worth, dignity and confidence still in tact. It is more than likely you will remain friends, because you will always support this person on their future, although you knew well enough that you couldn’t be a part of it.
The one who leaves you pessimistic
These are the ones that make you never want to have another feeling again in your life. The pain that you have felt at any point before, during, or after this relationship makes you want to bottle away any inkling of new feelings, and bury them deep inside. You have loved, and you have lost, and you never want anything to do with either ever again. The single life is the life for you. #NoFeelingsNoCeilings
Shades of Grey…
Balancing the ghosts of exs and ohs (they’ll haunt you… thanks Elle King), is not an easy task. While in many ways I wish I never met the one who has left me so pessimistic, he has been a necessary evil in balancing out my optimism, making me: a realist.
I know that bad relationships exist, but I’m also aware of the possibility of great ones, which I won’t cut myself off from. My past has made me protective of my feelings, but I still acknowledge them. I’m not afraid to be vulnerable, because life involves taking risks. The pessimistic possibilities are out there, but hey, so are the optimistic ones.
The Presence of Dates Present
Whether you met in school, at work, through a friend, or on a dating website, you have found someone with a glimmer of potential. Then, after the date, you’re left with one of two feelings:
The one who leaves you intrigued
This is the person that you’re excited to tell your friends about. You have chemistry, similarities, and an easy time talking to each other. You’re patient when it comes to this one, because you know better than to rush a good thing. All signs point to a genuine connection, so you go with the flow and enjoy the ride.
The one who leaves you indifferent
The same text that comes from the one who leaves you intrigued will have you rolling your eyes when it comes from the one you’re feeling indifferent about. Maybe you don’t like their voice. Maybe they come strapped with too much emotional baggage. In any case, you think to yourself, “maybe I’ll feel more of a connection on a second date…” Let me tell you right now, don’t waste your time. If your interest isn’t sparked from the start, that flame will never be ignited.
Shades of Grey…
Intrigue or bust. Life is too short to feel indifferent. What sucks is when someone you are intrigued by feels indifferent about you… or vice versa. Leading someone on is mean, so if you are feeling indifferent about someone who is clearly intrigued by you, be real with them.
I recently had this conversation with my mom about a “fish she had on the hook.” She gave him that second date, where he excitedly drove 45 minutes to meet her, again. Although he was intrigued by her, the feelings were not mutual.
I really believe that communication is the key to life. While it may feel more comfortable to ghost someone we don’t feel a connection with, hoping they’ll get the hint by our lack of responsiveness, it can drive the person on the other side crazy. A simple “you’re a great person, but you’re just not the one for me” is all it takes for both sides to pick themselves and move on, in a mature, polite way.
The Baes of Tomorrow
In an ideal world, the baes of tomorrow are made up of the intriguing dates of today. However, the world we live in is not that simple. There are many combinations of weird things that happen… which ultimately have led us to a 50% divorce rate.
We rush into things
We want a relationship, and we want it yesterday. Maybe the one who has left us optimistic has us totally ready to jump right into something new. Or, maybe the one who left us pessimistic has us feeling insecure, and we need someone in our life to make us feel significant. In either case, if you’re daydreaming about what color the bridesmaids will be wearing after the first date… slow your roll. The purpose of this whole dating thing is to get to know each other, so put your selfish needs aside, and enjoy the process!
We wait too long
I am livin la vida single, and have this mindset that being in a relationship means having to break up with my quality “me time.” I know that this is a poor mindset to have, but feel that it will change once someone treats me the same way I treat me. I don’t mean this in a material way, but in a way representative of the faith, courage, and respect I have fostered within myself.
A fear of commitment doesn’t help this process along, either. Hell, I can’t even decide what state I want to stay in from month to month, you think I can picture myself in a relationship with someone?! That’s petrifying, yet awesome, if it is with the type of person that has felt just as intrigued by you as you have by them, where you are excited to share that quality “me time”, and work as a force to help each other reach new heights.
Shades of Grey…
So, where is the sweet spot? What is the key to dating success? To be honest, I have no effin’ clue. There’s only one thing I know for sure: we’re given one life, and aren’t told when it can be taken away (more about my morbid motivations here). It’s sick and it’s twisted, but it’s reality; a reality that has helped me live in such a way where I don’t leave things unsaid (or un-blogged).
The only wisdom I can impart: there is no such thing as good timing. Be honest with yourself, so you can be honest with others. If you’re unhappy with the relationship you have with yourself, then it will be impossible to find bliss in a relationship with someone else. Carry yourself confidently, say how you feel, and mean what you say. Don’t be afraid to march by the beat of your own drum, because eventually, often when you least expect it, someone will come marching along side you.
Published by Lauren DiTo