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The importance of figuring it out before you f*ck it up
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was in a relationship for a very long time. So long, in fact, that online dating was still in its infancy when she got into her long-term relationship. When she found herself (suddenly) single in her early thirties, she had no clue how to meet people in the wild, let alone on online platforms… what the hell is Bumble? Tinder isn’t just used for hookups anymore? What does one say, wear, act, eat, drink…? She didn’t know anything about dating! One thing she did know, however? She was ready to date.
She was, admittedly, extremely lucky at the beginning. The first three people she went on dates with over the span of the next six months turned into something (not relationships per se, but definitely something) only to have them end all for the same reason: “I’m sorry, I’m just not ready for something more at this time.”
Super frustrating! Every time, she looked back on each of somethings and tried searching for red flags… what signs was she missing that this happened three times in a row after months of going on dates, staying over at their place, and letting the guy propel things forward as she took the backseat? I’m sorry, I’m just not looking for anything more at this time.
She knew she was ready to date. She knew she wanted to find her someone not just a something, and assumed others did as well. Guess not! So guys, let’s take a look at dating before you suddenly find yourself saying I’m sorry to a great girl.
DATING 101: YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHY YOU’RE DATING.
This is so key! Our above-mentioned friend was very set on finding a forever partner. However, not everyone is the same… we all date for different reasons, and when it comes to online dating, honesty is the best policy. Be clear as to why you want to date. Figure out why you want to date.
Do you want marriage? Do you just want companionship? A life partner but not marriage? Someone to go out for dinner with and occasionally hook up with? Are you just playing the field and hoping for the best?
All these things are ok! Everyone is looking for something different, and that’s totally fine – not all of us are looking for love! However, what’s not fine is not being open and honest about what it is that you’re looking for. It will make for one sad person down the line.
“LET’S SEE WHERE THIS GOES” IS NOT A THING.
Sure, you can be excited about where things go. And things that are “going” do not always work out. “Let’s see where this goes” can also be a very positive message, in terms of taking the relationship to the next level.
However, when “let’s just see where this goes” is an answer to someone asking what their something is looking for… that’s a red flag. It means there’s a wall up that you’re hoping someone can break down – the right girl will make me ready for a relationship – but this isn’t true.
According to this article, “let’s just see where this goes is just a really nice way to say: I’m not completely sold on you yet, but I want to keep you around because you’re meeting some type of need for me at the moment.” It’s a nice way of letting someone know you’re using them and then, ultimately, going to lose them.
If you’re not completely sold on dating or being exclusive with someone, you need to figure out why. What are you ultimately looking for? What is it that’s lacking, or what need is this person feeding? And then you know what you need to do? Figure that shit out. Let the girl go if you know you’re going to hurt her.
UNDERSTAND THAT IT CAN’T BE ONE-SIDED.
Whether or not you’re looking for a relationship or just someone to take to dinner, understand that whatever relationship you’re cultivating can’t be one-sided. In order for both people not to get hurt, it has to be mutual. This means she has to call the shots too.
Looking for meaningless hookups and you’ve been honest and found someone that wants the same thing? Great! Now let her be the one to text you with a “U up?” text at 2am and understand that sometimes she might say no to you.
Looking for companionship and someone to go on dates with until you’re actually ready for a full-blown relationship? Totally fine! After you’ve found someone that fills that description and you’ve been open about what you want… then let her also ask you to do things together. Let her ask you to dinner sometimes too.
Looking for a relationship? This is where it’s super important to ensure that you’re both having your needs met.
Honesty is always the best policy, but so it a reciprocal relationship, whatever that relationship may be.
The important thing to remember is that relationships look different for everyone, because everyone isn’t looking for the same thing. When both people are able to call the shots and when boundaries are established together, you can ensure that whatever your something is remains mutually satisfying for both parties.
RECOGNIZE THAT EVERYONE HAS BAGGAGE.
Whether it’s a suitcase or a tiny carry-on, everyone has baggage. This is especially true when you’re dating and you’re over 30. Everyone has some form of PTSD stemming from a past relationship at this point in life.
While some dating coaches will tell you to keep that shit to yourself and work through it, I continue to say that being open and honest is always best.
Have three kids and divorced? Still technically married but going through a separation? In huge debt? Emotionally scarred from a verbally abusive situation? These are not necessarily deal breakers.
Being straightforward about where you’re coming from not only allows you to own it, but also gives you the opportunity to see how your potential partner handles it too.
A previous boss of mine once said “everyone has the same bite to chew, but not everyone’s plate is the same size.” I think about this often. Everyone has their own stuff to work through, their own piece to chew, but not everyone has the same mental space to deal with their own stuff plus someone else’s. This is a good thing to remember for yourself top when you meet someone; how much of their baggage are you willing to fit into your own suitcase, if you know in the end the trip is going to be mutually satisfying?
What we’ve learned here is you require two things when entering a something with someone: be open and honest with your partner about what you’re looking for and wanting be open and honest with yourself about what you’re looking for and wanting.
Setting clear and mutual boundaries allows both parties to enjoy the relationship, whatever that relationship is. It ensures both people are not being led on, and ultimately, having their time wasted.
Whatever you’re looking for is possible to find. Now get out there and start looking!