In the midst of a phone conversation with my mother regarding my most recent disappointing date, she stopped to tell me that she thinks I’ve already gone on more dates at 19 than she ever has. My dating app-less friends’ past judgments quickly sunk through my skin.Yikes! I immediately thought to myself...am I dating too much? Are my innocent casual dates soiling my reputation? Are my swipe rights and clever Bumble openers earning me a scarlet letter? Have I forever ruined my chance at romance?
She went on to say that she thought it was great that I was dating-- actually dating, by going on dates with a lot of different people. I’m meeting a unique assortment of men, she explained. “It’s so much different from when I was in college...it’s good. You get to learn from experience what you want, and more importantly, what you don’t.” Apparently, in my mother’s eyes, I’m having my “Carrie Bradshaw moment.” With that theory in mind, I suppose a growing list of disappointing men in my contacts (or I hate to admit...my Snapchat... cringe!) is intrinsically romantic? Sure, Carrie did it wearing Dior...but it’s about the silver lining, right?
Jokes and a lack of a designer closet aside, my mom was right. I’ve learned a lot from my crappy dates. Sure, I’ve learned some things about (and picked up on some trends of) college-aged men. But I’ve really learned a lot about myself-- things I could have only learned from experience. What are my deal-breakers? My priorities? What do I see as a red flag? What am I really looking for, what do I want? What is going to be best for me right now? My list is far different from the one I had at 17, will be different from the one I have at 25, or even the one I have two months from now.
My worst dates have taught me a lot about myself, and about dating. A guy will not talk less about himself the second time around, that aloof demeanor actually isn’t the slightest bit cool, someone who mentions their ex really shouldn't be dating at all, and no amount of redeeming qualities will make up for them dropping out of college and selling uh...mushrooms for a living.
A few golden rules I’ve learned to stand by are that my gut feeling is usually right, most boys will unfortunately only get worse with time, and they probably don’t look cuter in person. Nevertheless, I’ll continue swiping against the odds, because the guy who’s “just looking for a gym buddy” might just teach me something.