The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
They say that for every success story there are a bunch of unspoken failures. While Thomas Eddison had 1,000 attempts to finally create a lightbulb, it might take some of us 1,001 times to eventually get the hang of the unknown world of dating. You see, after being closed off to the idea for so long, I didn’t realize so much of me and the dating world had changed. So, I figured… What the hell? I can be a young, growing professional who dates, right?
So, I went off! I downloaded the ever-feared Tinder, decided to answer a few DMs on my social media accounts and became a flirt on social media in any way I could. I slid into some guys’ DMs, commented on a few girls’ pictures and before I knew it, what turned out to be a silly thing during my “Hot Girl Summer” phase, became a social agenda I was not prepared for. Somehow, I went from sitting on my desk every day to going out every other night having both really good and awkward dates. Every single outing and every single person I’ve talked, dated or hooked up with has taught me something different about myself and what I’m looking for. While I have not cracked the dating code, here are a few things that I’ve learned in between.
1) BE CLEAR AND HONEST WITH WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR
While some are looking to just date, hook-up, chat or a serious relationship, the person you are talking to might be looking for the exact opposite as you. Therefore, set your terms and intentions as soon as the dynamics in the relationship starts to change. I found myself on a first date having to say I was not looking for a relationship because the bachelor in front of me spent all evening talking about seeing a future with me. On the other hand, I’ve had to ask the other party: “What’s going on?” because I’m interested to see if there is a chance for things to grow.
Anyone who knows me, mocks me over the fact that I don’t want to be in a serious relationship. What can I say? I’m a busy guy. I understand that more than falling in love or whatever, relationships are a responsibility. And quite frankly, I don’t think I can handle another responsibility. With all of this, I wondered… Do I value my professional life more than my personal life? 100%, and quite frankly I do not apologize for it. However, I can talk and go out with someone who understands just that. I started out my dating experience not wanting anything serious… Now I just want someone to understand that dating me is also dating my agenda. I came to this realization because of course, during the process of dating I realized that finding someone who, indeed, wants to date me and my agenda is a true possibility.
2) DON’T SETTLE. IF YOU WANT IT, YOU DESERVE IT
If you want the total package, and they just want to chill in private, MOVE ON. You deserve to be with someone who wants the exact same or similar thing as you. Settling is only good in the money business. I’ve learned not just in dating, but friendships as well, that the second you start to settle and put aside what you want for the other person’s wishes… someone is bound to end up unhappy and that someone might be you.
This is something that I feared tremendously. Being a work-first person, I was scared of putting aside my studies, career or opportunities because of what my partner wanted. I found myself talking to people that would start to ignore me if I was too busy or had to cancel, which pressured me into trying to make myself available just to try to get to know them. However, I did have some experiences, in which the other person was so occupied as well that we rescheduled dates over four times and even spent till late at night talking while we worked because it was the only time we could ever try to interact with each other.
3) DON’T PRESSURE YOURSELF ON TINDER
I get it, Tinder is often seen as a taboo. From seeing your ex on a deck of people or matching with a random hookup, Tinder sometimes sets us up for the worse. However, it does not have to be a negative experience. I found Tinder to be very helpful to loosen up in talking, specifically flirting with people during all of this process. Some people are just on Tinder for fun, why not yourself too? The more pressure you put on the application, the less it will work towards what you are looking for. Sometimes you even match with people you never even start a conversation with, and I think that is lovely.
4) IF YOU STOP TALKING TO OTHER PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEM… YOU ARE INTO THEM
Of course, when I reached this stage with someone, I wanted to run away. I refused to think I was catching some feelings… but it just means that you enjoy what is happening, or at least what is developing. Therefore, it’s a sign that you are being treated properly or you just enjoy being around this person and that is okay. Having feelings is a normal part of the process. If you talk every day, go out every other day… you are bound to catch some feelings.
While dating, you are bound to talk to multiple people at the same time. Eventually some leave, you also ghost a few and if that person remains stable, you probably don’t want to talk to anyone else. However, unless you have a proper talk about exclusively dating, you MUST continue dating and talking to people. The dating scene is so fragile and quick, that while you may think you have something serious with this special someone… that someone is also having something special with a few other people. To keep yourself from getting hurt, always keep a tab open for other people… you never know what can happen.
5) HE/SHE ARE PROBABLY NOT THAT INTO YOU… AND THAT’S OKAY
This has probably been the harshest reality to accept. While I am an advocate for hook-up culture and have broken a few hearts for not wanting a relationship, this whole process has made me see that I was kind of falling in love quickly. While I never verbalized it, because I knew that I was dating other people as well, I sometimes found myself smitten over first date details and attention that made me realize that the other party did listen while we talked. This also made me realize that my inexperience in relationships was a weakness during this process and I had to be more careful with my feelings. Falling in love quickly made me ignore some red flags, and any red flag, big or small, should be enough to put an end to things.
Clouding my judgement, a little quickly, with details and conversations made me blind to people that were not ready for anything serious because they were not over their ex and their toxic relationship. It led me to almost date an anti-vaxxer (I know, crazy right?) and almost saying yes to a relationship with a girl that cried because she missed me whenever I had to cancel because of a work meeting. The harshest one yet was when someone I was intrigued in getting to know better went on a trip and told me everything he did with a few people. While what he did could not affect me (and it did not), it was more how he had the confidence to talk about this with me. This made me realize that we were more friends than anything I was thinking. Friendzoned, without being told I was in the friend zone, was not the best feeling. But of course, between all the flirting and how interesting this person was, I had feelings, and clearly I was more into it than he probably ever was. You win some, you learn some.
Dating does not have to be difficult, so don’t make it so. If she is not vibing with you, move on to the next one. If this guy makes you laugh more, talk to him instead. The whole point of dating is meeting people to find someone to develop something serious with. Do you want to see what happens with someone you can have fun and be yourself with or with someone that will give you a hard time? Throughout your experience, give yourself time to process, feel and enjoy what you are doing. Some dates can stay friendly, others need a little time to rebound from. There is neither a rule book nor a rush to dating. Do it on your own terms and timeframe. The original material girl, Madonna, said it best, “Experience has made me rich.” The more you get out there, the more you’ll understand what you want. All you will have funny stories to tell over different dates, perhaps even with the right person…