Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dating: The Mistakes We All Make

Let's face it.  Dating kinda sucks.

Not only is it difficult to meet new people when we're already busy with friends and careers.

But even when you do meet new people, experience has shown that your chances of finding "The One" are kinda dismal.  I mean check out Ted on "How I Met Your Mother".  It took him like 9 years of disaster dating to find the woman of his dreams!  Not everyone is as lucky as Lily and Marshall to find their partners in College.  In reality, most of our dating lives tend to fall somewhere in the middle. 

And as most of us know, it gets a little harder the older you get.  Heck, I've written about it before.

Dating in Your Late 20s SUCKS - Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

And God knows, I've read dozens and dozens of blogs from other writers on the subject.

But I think that the biggest problem men AND women have with dating is our attitudes and the ideas we have in our heads about dating and the opposite sex:

1. Taking Dating To Extremes

If anything I am guilty of being too casual about the whole dating thing.  I'm not a fan of online dating and in general don't go to great lengths to "meet men" when I'm out.  I know, I know, I can't sit around and wait for the perfect guy to fall in my lap.  I KNOW.   But I'm not willing to go to the other extreme which I basically view as taking dating on as an Olympic Sport.  Men and women that are dating 5, 6 or 7 people at a time or talking to dozens of  potential partners at a time online is just something I can't wrap my head around.  And last time I checked, dating a massive volume of people isn't really working too well for the people that are doing it.   Case in point, a friend of mine is what I call a Serial Dater.  She goes on 3-4 dates a week, typically all first dates and she has been doing this for well over a year.  Do the math.  That's over 150 dates.  A lot of the guys she goes on a "date" with she knows little more about them than their name, age, occupation and general statistics.  She's meeting them online and honestly I've always felt that if she screened differently or actually took time to talk to these men before agreeing to a date she would save herself a lot of time, effort and in the end, frustration.

In my time (God I sound like an old woman), you met someone, you went out on a date.  If it worked, it worked.  If it didn't, you moved on.  I don't know about some people, but for me, I can't focus my attention on getting to know 3 guys at once.  If I tried, I'm pretty sure the odd jerk would make it farther than he should, and the odd nice guy would slip through the cracks.  But this whole world of online dating has opened up the ability to meet large amounts of people very quickly.  In my opinion, quality over quantity.  For me, I'd rather go on 2 really good dates a year than 100 bad ones. 

2. Setting Unrealistic Expectations

I'm not saying date people that you don't find attractive.  But finding the guy or girl who is beautiful, smart, funny, not broke, not neurotic, lives in your neighborhood and has ALL of the same interests of you is the same as trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.  And newsflash,  even if you found this person there's a 50/50 chance they're already taken.  Or gay.  Or the same gender as you.  Just sayin'.

Still, I'm not saying compromise on the things that matter.  If smoking, or drinking or a certain hobby or character trait is a sticking point for you, that's OK.  But we all need to consider that our perfect match isn't necessarily what we have in our minds.  What does that mean?  That means we may have to talk to the shy guy, or try to understand the girl reading a book on the train, or get past the fact that somebody likes a different sports team than you.  It means you can't necessarily discount the guy who has a different color hair than you  prefer, or is shorter than you imagined your husband being.

OMG does that girl wear glasses?  Gasp!! I can't date her!!  Seriously people.  Broaden your horizons.

This also means stop dating the same "type" over and over again.  I'm serious.  If you've convinced yourself that you like tough guys with tattoo's and motorcycles, that's fine.  But if that's all you date and it ALWAYS ends badly you need to come to terms with the fact that continuing to date that "type" might be an exercise in futility.  Same goes for all you guys who only date bleach blonde's with big boobs and no hobbies other than shopping. One of my best friends is horrible for this.  He has a good job, is good looking, smart and funny.  But he tends to date what I call "Future Trophy Wives".  And then he bitches that he wants to meet a nice girl who isn't pre-occupied about money and he can have a serious conversation with.  Newsflash....if that's what you want....stop dating Silicone Barbie over there.

3. Know What You Want

This kinda loops back to what I just said above.  Know what you want.  If what you want contradicts what you're actually dating, you're not going to get anywhere.  If you say you want a smart down to earth girl.  Stop dating the future candidates for "The Real Housewives of....".  And ladies, if you want a guy who's going to treat you with respect stop dating assholes!  You're not going to change them so stop thinking you'll be THE ONE he gives up his crap habits for.

Also, know what you REALLY want.  I've dated a few guys that say they want a serious relationship but in the end, they're not done sleeping around.  This goes for girls too.  A lot of single women I know want a relationship but they want it for the wrong reasons.  They want it because they think there's something wrong with being 30 and single, or they want it because all their friends are getting married.  But it all goes back to, you need to be in the right time and place in your life for the right relationship to come along.  If you're not emotionally ready you may pass by the right guy just because he's not the right guy for you at this moment in your life.

4. Bringing All Your Issues To The Table

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY that is single and reaches the age of, let's say 28+, doesn't have either a bad dating experience under their belts or some kind of negative perception in their head about the opposite sex.  We all say that we don't have issues or baggage but that's not really true now is it?

It's all a matter of how big our issues are or how deep our perceptions go.

I've been in an emotionally abusive relationship and I've been cheated on.  Separate relationships.  Does that mean that I think all men will hurt me or cheat on me?  No.  Does that mean I'm a little wary of trusting someone right away?  Yes.  Does that subconsciously impact how I interact with men early on in a relationship?  Probably.  But that's reality.  I've gone on tons of HORRIBLE first dates.  Does that mean I presume every first date is going to go badly?  No.  Because if I did, I'd never date again.  And honestly there was a time period where I really thought it just wasn't worth it.  That it was just easier to be alone.  But attitudes like that aren't getting me anywhere.  On the flip side, men that just PRESUME that all women who are single when they're 28+ MUST have something wrong with them is bullshit and unfair.  Just because you've dated a bunch of women that are clingy and insecure and demanding doesn't mean I'm that way.

5. Playing Games

I'm not saying that we all do this.  But this waiting a week to call a girl you're interested in crap has to stop.  Same goes for girls who won't approach a guy or be the first to call.  STAHP IT!!  All these "rules" are bullshit.  People need to be honest with each other and stop playing these crap games.  If you don't want a serious relationship, just be honest.  If you don't want to go on a second date, don't just NEVER CALL.  Think of it this way.  How are people supposed to learn and evolve if they're never told what is wrong in the first place.  We do it at work to get better at our jobs so why don't we do it more in our personal lives?

Example.  You're on a date with a nice guy but he's coming on WAY TOO STRONG.  If you otherwise like him TELL HIM.  Same goes for you guys, if you like a girl but she does something specific that you don't like, be polite but TELL HER.  Some people have annoying habits but they're totally unaware of them.  Also, if you go on a date and you don't want a repeat, if it's for a reason, tell the person.  It's all a learning experience.  If we never learn exactly why people are or are not attracted to us, how will we ever learn or adapt?  If you keep making the same silly mistake on first dates but nobody tells you, it's possible you'll never figure it out on your own.  Being honest with a stranger isn't always easy but as long as you're polite and not intentionally cruel about it I'm sure they'd appreciate the info.  Even if they don't appreciate it right away.  Seriously.  Hasn't everyone been on at least one date in their lives where the person never called them back and they have NO IDEA WHY?

6. Setting a Timeline

I want to be married by the time I'm 30.  I won't kiss on the first date.  I won't sleep with someone on the first date.  I will wait exactly 3 days to call someone after a first date.  I will wait 1 year to move in with someone.  I will wait 24 hours to return a phone call.

It's bullshit people.  Do what you think feels natural.  Living your life and dating by proscribed time lines is ridiculous.  And it reinforces my "Don't Play Games" mandate.  I'm not saying throw logic out the window and call a girl 10 minutes after a date to book your next date.  I'm also not saying that that's necessarily a wrong thing to do.  But play it by ear.  Do what feels comfortable in that situation and do what you'd appreciate.  If that means that you wouldn't appreciate a guy falling off the radar after sleeping together for the first time, then don't do that to him, and if you are because you're a) freaking out b) not comfortable with what happened or c) not sure if it was the right decision see point #5 and don't play games.....BE HONEST.   Because I'd bet a lot of us have slept with someone and later gone OMG WHAT DID I DO!  Anybody?  Anybody?  Bueller?  Because this behavior isn't exclusive to guys.  Chicks do it too.

You may be reading this and thinking "Who the eff does this chick think she is?  She's single so what the hell does she know?". You're exactly right.  But I'm not claiming to have all the answers.  I just think that there's a lot of bullshit going on and not only am I tired of dealing with it personally, but I'm also tired of seeing people I care about be hurt and disappointed over and over again.

Cheers,

Ash

Just STAHP IT!!



11 comments:

  1. Great post! I'm with you on so much of this, but in particular the part about doing things on a natural timeline instead of some arbitrary set of rules. If I want to text or call someone after a date, I do it....standard waiting periods be damned. If me contacting them that night to thank them for our date turns them off somehow, I don't want them, anyway!

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    1. It's so true. All the bullshit games just frustrate me. It's one thing to call them and gush 15 minutes after they walk out the door but a quick text saying you had a good time isn't necessarily a bad thing.

      I think my biggest pet peeve is people that at the end of a date lie and say they had a great time and that they want to make plans for a second date and then disappear. Just be honest and say I had fun but no thanks. A friend of mine did it to a guy and then spent a week bitching because he kept texting her and wasn't getting the hint. I was all, then don't lead him on at the end of a date.

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  2. I agree with all of this. Well said. I especially agree with #2. People tend to date the same type of person over and over and over again and it always ends the same way. It's not always going to look how you think it will because however you've wanted it to look, hasn't worked in the past. Time to try something different or you're just going to fall back into the same vicious cycle. Online dating has made it really easy to discard people who may in-fact be very dateable but people always think there's something better around the bend so they eliminate people for ridiculous reasons sometimes. I see this a lot. Shit, I did it for a very, very long time. There is not a perfect person. You're not perfect so don't expect perfection. That being said: there are definitely things that are deal-breakers from them beginning AND SHOULD BE i.e. being sexually suggestive before ever having met! Oh, and baby talk. hahaha

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    1. It's true. Didn't Einstein say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result?

      I honestly don't know what the guys that start off conversations being suggestive actually expect? I mean if it was a forum where people were just looking for a hook-up that's one thing. But the concept of actually DATING a guy who's first words to me are "nice tits" is ridiculous.

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  3. I'm reading this from the perspective of being older and let me say dating in your 40s kind of blows. You are dealing with people who have a lot of baggage from failed marriages, evil exes, and in many cases, a feeling from these men that they are entitled to a younger woman, that there is something wrong with dating in their own age group. The annoying traits, dater fade out, etc has had decades to develop. When I was in my 20s I didn't realize what a large pool I had to choose from. Now there are a few gems, but they are rare.

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    1. I can easily imagine that it gets much harder and you're right, the older you get the more time people have to develop hang-ups and quirks.

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  4. Dude. I love you.

    I loved dating sometimes, but I hated dating most of the time. That timeline shit is crap. I wanted to be married by 25. Then married by 30. Now if I'm not married by the time I'm 35...Oy vey. (But that's ONLY because I have a boyfriend of 2.5 years at 30...after 7 years of dating, there better be a ring on it...)

    Online dating is actually kind of fun.

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    1. I've always hated dating, not the actual relationship part but the first date second date are you my boyfriend yet kinda crap. Even in High School I hated it.

      I tried online dating just after University after the split with my ex. I wasn't impressed and found a lot of the guys I encountered online to just be rude, like not having to face someone in person made them forget all their manners.

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  5. Amen girl! The book I always refer to for dating advice says you need to increase your chances of finding Mr. Right by going on more dates. However, most of us have lives outside of work and finding time for going on multiple dates a week is really hard! The whole online dating thing sort of intimidates me, because it's really difficult to get a read on a guy. Also, most are total skeezeballs when they send generic messages like, "You're really attractive!" Thanks...?

    And for weird people like me who like to "pick" the guy they want to be interested in them (also known as, "friends before dating," or "long term observation"), it never seems to work out. I have a whole list of favorites on OKC that I can't bring myself to message, because they seem to never respond when I initiate contact. :P

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    1. I really don't put any effort into dating. I did online dating once and it just wasn't for me. I think relationships need to happen organically. 90% of the guys I've dated I was friends with even if for a short while before I dated them. I need to know a person to an extent before I date them.

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  6. This article made me laugh so much. I have been at fault for some of these things myself in the past! I'd like to think I have gotten better. :P Well played Ash, well played.

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