Six Things I Learned from Not Dating Anyone Until Junior Year

It’s officially that time of year again and no, I’m not talking about fall…I’m talking about cuffing season. A magical season where it seems like everyone around you is getting into relationships, flirtationships, and FWB-ships. Some love it, some dread it. 

If you’ve never had an S.O. to call your own, it can feel like cuffing season was invented specifically to humiliate you. Trust me, I’ve been there and I have the credentials to prove it. As long as we’re not counting my sixth-grade “boyfriend” Jonathan (note the quotation marks), I spent the first 20 years of my life without being in a single real relationship. It wasn’t until last November that I started seeing my incredible boyfriend Travis, and now we’ve been going strong for almost 11 months! *cue the “aww” from the studio audience*

Courtesy: Grace Hayes on Instagram

So what did being single for all of grade-school and half of college teach me? Well, a lot. For readers who are starting to feel like there’s no hope left for them in the romance department, here are the six biggest things I learned from my two-decade stint as a single gal.

1. Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When you’re trying to get a feel for a potential partner, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to decode every little text thread and interaction you two have. If your crush has you feeling like a psychic staring into a crystal ball, sometimes all you have to do is read the signs that are right in front of you. For example, if they’re leaving you on read over and over and over, there’s a good chance that they’re just not interested. Someone who genuinely likes you will make the effort to talk to you. Think about it: if your actual significant other – or even one of your friends – ignored you like that, you would obviously have a problem with it. Trust your gut and put their behavior into perspective to figure out whether you should keep it up or hit the bricks.

Courtesy: Oleg Magni on Unsplash

2. A Significant Other is Not a Necessity

Though it sure seems that way sometimes! Love stories are constantly shoved in our faces by TV shows, movies, books, social media, commercials and just about everything else, so it’s easy to believe that something’s wrong with us if we happen to spend our adolescent years single. Let me break out my megaphone for this one: THAT IS SUCH BULLSH*T! Sure, having someone to cuddle and watch Hocus Pocus with would be nice, but it’s important to remember that you’re your own person. All of your experiences, accomplishments, successes, failures and emotions make you a completely unique person, so ditch the idea that you need someone else to complete you. In the immortal words of Cher, “a man is a luxury, like dessert. A man is absolutely not a necessity.” Listen to Cher.

Courtesy: @simone22lee on Twitter

3. “Almost-Dating” Isn’t Worth Your Time

How many times have you said the phrase “we were almost a thing, but nothing really happened” to describe somebody you’ve been into? Probably way too many. Maybe they led you on for weeks but finally turned you down for real because they’re “just not looking for a relationship right now.” Or maybe you two were talking for a while and you sensed that they were losing interest, but you felt like you couldn’t bring it up because you guys weren’t even really dating in the first place. I’m telling you, it’s an extra-spicy flavor of heartbreak. If this sounds like your current situation, remember: if they wanted to, they would. Don’t be afraid to sit down and have that tough DTR conversation with them if you’re ready to take it to the next level. No matter how scary it is, at least you’ll have an answer. Trust your intuition and remind yourself that you don’t deserve to be played.

Courtesy: @icyshawtykay on Twitter

4. Your Dating Life Doesn’t Have an Expiration Date

If you’ve had your heart broken by one too many fellow Noles, it’s easy to throw in the towel because you’ve decided that college just isn’t “your time” to have a relationship. I don’t blame you; I told myself the exact same thing right before Travis and I started dating! One of the many frustrating parts of being a woman in our society is the belief that if you don’t find love by a certain age, you’re wasted goods. But that’s just not true. The reality is that you can fall in love at any time or at any age. If you want to take a step back from the dating scene to focus on yourself, go for it…just don’t completely rule out the possibility that you’ll connect with someone amazing when you least expect it.

Courtesy: Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash

5. Spend Time With Other Single Friends

You love your BFF, but maybe she’s been talking your ear off about her love life lately. Whether she’s humble-bragging about her super-sweet girlfriend or constantly venting about how terrible her boyfriend is being, sometimes you just need a break from other people’s relationship drama, especially when your own relationship drama has been taking a toll on your mental state. In times like these, make it a point to connect with your pals that are single and unbothered by it. Their positivity can help give you an emotional detox, and it’s a nice reminder that your life is so much more than that idiot dude from Tinder who ghosted you.

Courtesy: Thought Catalog on Unsplash

6. Figure Out What You Want

Lots of people (including myself) have an issue with the phrase “you have to love yourself before you can love somebody else.” Although I believe there’s a little bit of truth to it, I propose a slightly modified mantra: you have to figure out what you want in a partner before you choose them. I’m not saying you need to have a crystal-clear picture of the perfect person in your head, because people just aren’t that easy to pin down IRL. But it’s important to get real with yourself and think about what you’re looking for. What values and morals do you want them to have? What are their goals and ambitions? How about their politics? How do they treat people that they hold privilege over? Let the things that matter the most to you guide you on your journey as you meet and get to know potential partners.

Courtesy: Ana Juma on Unsplash

I hope that my experiences can give you a bit of helpful insight as you navigate the world looking for your person (Grey’s Anatomy, anyone?). Dating other people is such a vulnerable experience, so you’re already so much stronger than you might realize just for putting yourself out there. If there’s one thing to take away from this, I hope that you always remember that you’re worth only the best!

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