I have officially been a “college graduate” for exactly two months, three weeks, and one day – give or take a few hours – but I’ll basically be in college forever once I start grad school this fall. This summer, I got to reconnect with a lot of people in my hometown and was flattered to hear that several of my old friends have been following my reign at Her Campus Notre Dame. In particular, my Adventures in Online Dating series continues to be a fan favorite.
One night, a kind friend asked me with sincerity, “What is the best way to meet someone to date?” You know, because my track record is full of winners. In hindsight, this reminds me of an old episode of Sex and the City, “Frenemies”, where Carrie is asked to teach a seminar on dating and is stunned to find out that her students expect her to give them tangible advice on how to meet the man of their dreams. This got me to thinking: neither me nor Carrie Bradshaw needs to be giving anyone non-satirical advice on meeting and keeping a man. However, we do know a whole lot about what not to do in dating.
I wish I could report that the past two months of post-grad dating have been so much easier, more fun, and more promising than dating in college ever was. But then I would be lying. True, I am still hopeful about meeting new people in grad school, but if this summer was any indication of the future, I should probably just cut my losses and start collecting more cats now.
But of course, I learned a few lessons about some harsh dating truths that I will share in this reader-friendly list format in hopes that it will save someone some emotional trauma:
1) You could meet the perfect guy and then never see then again.
I did, in fact, learn this last summer when I met James on an hour-long connecting flight. It happened again this summer with a guy named Connor, who I met when he took the swing dancing class that I was helping to teach last month. I got to talk to him through the excuse of collecting his safety waiver that he signed for the class (which wasn’t even my responsibility) and learned that he was starting his senior year, studying marketing, and appreciated the beauty of statistics in business analytics. I hoped he would come back to class the next week but unfortunately, he didn’t. However, I was okay with that – because I’ve realized that these fleeting perfect guys can stay perfect as long as they only exist in the memory of that meeting. Like the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Ted first meets Victoria at the wedding. As cynical as it sounds, maybe some things shouldn’t be ruined by the drama of dating and relationships. After all, you can never break up if you never get together.
2) Even the “nice guy” can and will break your heart.
Okay, “heartbreaking” is really being used for dramatic effect and editorial succinctness. But this guy did hurt my feelings quite a bit. First, note that the self-proclaimed Nice Guy is a documented meme and inspired Internet topic. However, I’d like to add another shade of grey to the problem of the “nice guy syndrome” – you expect more from a guy if you believe he’s inherently good or sincerely nice. This is likely to set him up for failure. I admit, this is where I made one of many mistakes with this guy. Another mistake was ignoring red flags. Like I mentioned in the catfish article, people are more likely to ignore or justify relationship warning signs when they really like the person. However, the one red flag that I will never ignore is lying – and I reached a whole new level of neurosis when I found out that he lied about being in Maryland for a funeral when he was really in town, presumably to avoid having to hang out with me. The problem with this “nice guy” was that he was so nice, he would rather lie to me than admit that he didn’t want to spend time with me. And I honestly think it takes a certain level of intelligence to see why this is such a hurtful and infuriating thing.
3) You have to put your cards on the table.
It’s becoming clear to me that it’s necessary to know your bottom line – and that of the person you like – at the very beginning, even as early as the first date. So many misunderstandings, expectations, and yes, emotional drama, could have been avoided if the Nice Guy and I had talked about what we were looking for. If one person is looking for a relationship but the other is looking for a hookup or something “casual”, feelings will definitely be hurt.
4) The movie He’s Just Not That Into You is a chick flick.
Subtitle: You can’t change a man. In a chick flick, there will most likely be a cheesy romantic happy ending where love conquers all for those who deserve it. However, this teaches some pretty dangerous lessons. In the movie, the nine characters are struggling with relationship problems; some ultimately determine that they are better off without their love interest and pick themselves up and move on. But in order to fulfill the criteria of a chick flick, some of the characters miraculously get what they want from their previously emotionally withholding counterparts. This tells men and women that if they wait around and try hard enough, their partner will change their mind and give in, which is completely unrealistic. And so, I should have caught on when I confronted the Nice Guy about acting distant and he denied it repeatedly before all of a sudden promising to spend time with me. As soon as he got back from Maryland.