Confessions of a Serial Dater

Maybe it's because I like the attention.

Maybe it's because I like feeling wanted.

Or maybe it's because I'm scared he isn't the right guy.

I have always been "the pretty one." I have always been the "go-to crush" girl. I've given out a lot of first kisses. I've been on a lot of first dates. I've lived in a constant state of heartbreak; I've lived in a constant state of breaking hearts. I am a Serial Dater.

It's the kind of validation that doesn't last. It’s the kind of validation that expires the second he drops me off on my front porch. It's the kind of validation that is gone the moment someone asks me "which one is that again?"

So I guess it's no surprise that I date. A lot. And I like to think that after all of the dating experience that I've had, I am a good judge of character. I like to think that I can tell when a guy is actually in to me or just wants a hook up. But even then, I can recount a date story to my roommates and perceive the situation with such a distorted view of reality. What I think I say: He's so cute, he's impressed by my art major, he likes that I work for my own money, and he thought I was such a good kisser that he didn't want to let me go inside. What they hear: He made fun of my art major, he thinks I'm worthless, he took advantage of me and wouldn't let me go inside. And it turns out, my roommates are right. From the horror on their faces as I gush about this cute guy that just dropped me off, I realize that I am just full of wishful thinking.

From a young age, I learned how to manipulate boys-- and I learned how boys could manipulate me. I learned the leg trick: If you are sitting next to a cute boy and touch your leg to his, no matter how uncomfortable he may be, he will not move his leg because he's touching you and that's not something an 11-year-old boy experiences every day. I became the expert at eye contact-- I could unfailingly make a boy come over and talk to me with just a look. And every Valentine's Day, my elementary school Valentine box would fill up with love notes written on triple-lined handwriting paper. But, despite the "good guy" attention, I have always been the girl to go for the boy who didn't write me a love note, who didn't ask me to be his Valentine. The boy who would make fun of me, call me names, throw things at me on the school bus. "He's only mean to you because he likes you," playing on repeat in the back of my head.

Maybe that one line has ruined our idea of the 'perfect' relationship. That idea that we should be attracted to men who don't treat us well seems to be a common thread throughout all of us. We are constantly going for the Bad Boy. Is it because it's exhilarating to have the attention of the man who gives the attention to no one? Is it because we like feeling wanted by the boy who doesn't want anyone? Why are we willing to sit by the phone for days, waiting for a guy who doesn't care about us? Let's face it: I will never be the girl to change the bad boy into the perfect boyfriend. None of us will. That's the kind of stuff that lives in fairy tales and Nicholas Sparks novels; not in real life.

Maybe we are afraid of commitment. Why is "commitment" the scariest word to so many of us?  I've ignored one too many boys that were willing to give me the world. Maybe it's because that is the kind of attention that is easy to get. But we push away the Good Guy, put everything on hold for the Bad Boy, and end up losing both of them. And that's where the cycle starts all over again.

Maybe it's because we wait for so long to make up our minds. We've pushed the Good Guy away for so long before we've realized that he is actually the one we want. But when we finally let ourselves feel those things, it's been too long and he has decided he can't love us the way we want to love him. We lose that guy and the cycle repeats.

Maybe what it all comes down to is feeling like we need the Perfect Guy right now, and good isn’t good enough. Serial Dater or not, we wait for the perfect guy, but run when we finally find him. Always looking for the better deal, we lose what could be a wonderful relationship that is standing right in our periphery. But what if, just once, we let the Good Guy be good enough? Like me, you could find out that the Good Guy becomes the Perfect Guy, and he will be the guy you don't want to lose. Losing him isn't worth the attention of all the guys in the world. Maybe Serial Dating isn't all it's cracked up to be.