Over the past thirteen years, I have dated a lot. I have tried various means including being set up by friends, meeting people out and about, through school, and of course, online dating! My experiences have overall been great, minus a few hiccups here and there (que many Tinder flops!) hahaha.
Each situation has taught me valuable lessons about myself and what I want and DO NOT want in a partner.
Below is a list of the advice I wish I could give my younger self. I am positive in a few more years I will be able to add even more knowledge as this chapter of my life is not over yet!
Using The Wrong Deal Breakers: Everyone has a list, physical or mental, that consists of things you will not ever consider, but is this list the right list? I use to think that being picky meant eliminating people without the “right” job, teeth, clothes, social circle, athletic ability, etc. My deal breakers were ALL surface level items and in the grand scheme of things, do not matter. My new list is much shorter and things that truly matter to me: believe in God and the sanctity of marriage, and desire to have kids someday. That’s it. Always follow your heart and don’t let the silly/changeable things get in your way of love.
Indulging In Too Much Alcohol During The Get To Know You Stage Is A Bad Idea: Listen up! I have missed so many red flags because I was under the influence during the first few dates. Then, when things started getting serious, I was punched in the face with those red flags. Also, more times than not, we had nothing in common outside of the social scene.
Becoming A Mother Instead Of A Girlfriend: I have always had a huge desire to take care of people. My past roommates can speak to this because I was always cooking, cleaning and checking in with them on life stuff! hahaha. Although I am sure this is appreciated, it usually translates poorly into all of my relationships. Intimacy is something I struggle with, and the only way I know how to show affection sometimes is by these acts of service. But what my partners have really needed is my attention and touch, not me doing their laundry and packing their lunch.
Dating Before You Know What You Want: In my early to mid 20’s, I dated for the sake of dating and needing validation. Most importantly, dating kept me side- tracked from learning about myself. I often stayed in relationships that were wrong for me because I honestly didn’t know what was right.
Snooping Is NEVER A Good Idea: Everyone has a past. So, if you decide to snoop, you will 100% find something out about that person you probably didn’t want to know. In my younger days, I snooped and found a box my ex had from his previous relationship. By the amount of dust on it, I knew it had been long forgotten, but my crazy girlfriend mind went straight for the interrogation session. This never ends well. I now respect the past of my significant other and appreciate that it inevitably got him one step closer to me.
Stop Sticking To A ‘Type’: My mom recently called me out on this because all of my significant relationships have been with tall white boys from the Midwest. My dad still can’t tell any of them apart because even their names are easily mixed up– Smith, Taylor, Bell! Try something new and always follow your heart.
Don’t Accept Things That Are Not Reasonable To You: Many times I have pretended things haven’t bothered me or I didn’t care because I was trying too hard to be the cool girlfriend. Well, that has always come back to bite me in the a$$. These are usually the first daggers thrown in a fight and ultimately can end a relationship if not talked about, openly. For example, I use to keep my mouth shut about all the extreme nights out my ex would have. These were not just a Friday/Saturday deal; they were an everyday that ends in Y deal! I played along for almost nine months! One day I finally realized this was not the lifestyle I wanted and that it was something still very important to him. I was a fool for staying as long as I did so please don’t make the same mistake and let things that bother you go unspoken!
Trust Your Intuition: It’s funny, but our bodies usually can tell us something is wrong before we have the guts to say it out loud! We have all been there– more tired, anxiety ridden, withdrawn, etc. I made this mistake multiple times when I was younger and am honestly still learning from each experience I have. When something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and you should investigate those feelings further. No. Matter. What.
Failing To Set Boundaries: From the beginning, you probably have things that are a no-go under any circumstance. One of mine– kissing on the first date. It’s just something I don’t do. Not because I am a prude, but because very rarely do I feel comfortable enough to let someone that close to me on a first date. To each their own, no judgment here, but have some standards for yourself and stick to them. The times I have given in, I regretted almost instantly. Be your best advocate!
Waiting Too Long To Date Seriously: I use to hate putting labels on my relationships. From 16 to 22, I didn’t technically have a boyfriend because I NEVER wanted to be somebody’s someone. I lost the opportunity to know a lot of great people because I was afraid of this step. If it feels right, go for it and if it doesn’t stop while you are ahead.
Overall, dating is a gamble but the reward can potentially be 100 fold of what you initially put in. Get to know yourself first, create healthy dating habits and know when to the cut the cord!
I have found peace in knowing that God does have a plan for me and each experience is getting me one step closer to a fulfilled and committed relationship.
Happy Dating Everyone!