The Art (if that) of Dating

Hi.

For one reason or another, you were motivated to click this, and for that, I thank you.

To start off with, I’m a 22-year old college student currently attending Western Michigan University. I’m majoring in Creative Writing and minoring in psychology and, after the upcoming semester, journalism. As it involves my major, I love writing (well, creatively – I despise research papers), and, in addition to that, I love music, giving advice…basically everything in the bio section on my Twitter profile.

Why was I motivated to make a blog? It’s great practice for me. I love giving my opinion without shoving it in people’s faces, primarily only if they ask for it (I’m not likely to walk down a street shouting about how Jesus saved me, mostly because I’m also not religious). I also love chronicling my life, which is mostly why I made a blog for my real self (if that made sense) about three years ago. I’ve documented everything from the pains of being social, to my long, lonely summer days, to my freshman year and more two years ago, to the less-than-savory instances of being bullied, and, most of all, my ‘coming out’ post I made this past St. Patrick’s Day.  So in essence, I already have an outlet to share my thoughts on whatever comes to mind. That outlet, however, is my personal blog, and I have literally everything there. For that reason, this lets me keep some of my anonymity.

Most of all, yes, while Twitter also serves that purpose, it’s more time-consuming to organize my thoughts and fit them into a series of 140-character messages. Essentially I’ll be using this for whatever comes to mind that’s relevant enough to blog about.

To throw out a miscellaneous fact about me, I am currently single, and I have been for my entire life. More than that, I’ve never been on a date. In the world of relationships and finding ‘the one’, everyone has a different opinion about how that process should be, how they should be treated, and so on.

One of my compadres through Twitter, @IanCooperXoXo (who coincidentally happens to be a pretty snazzy artist if I say so myself), made me think of this through one of our recent conversations. Let’s be honest, we all crave attention. We want to feel loved, and accepted, and wanted. Those feelings, and the need to fulfill those feelings, can periodically spill out into our relationships with people and, in particular, the dating scene. I can’t say this from personal experience, but I imagine it’s true to a certain degree that, depending on who you are, your expectations for dates are going to be marginally different than the person next to you.

As we’ve mostly become accustomed to courtesy of swirling romantic tales we bear witness to in cozy cinema chairs, the process of falling in love is a crazy, whirlwind affair of lavish dates, extravagant dinners, trips to the club, exotic vacations, you name it. The magic of movies forces many of us to believe that similar stories not only exist, but what are also considered to be the ‘norm’ when it comes to dating. The guy of your dreams arrives promptly at 8pm to pick you up, exchanging warm greetings with your parents as you’re busy scrambling around in your room trying to piece yourself together at the last-possible minute. Eventually, you enter his car and he, with an air of mystery, keeps the intended destination as tight-lipped as his grip on the steering wheel, trading various pleasantries with you, among them, the weather, favorite foods, favorite music, and so on. You’re surprised to arrive at, perhaps unknowingly to him, your favorite restaurant. His conversational style keeps you interested, but not intimidated. You have an overwhelming sense that you can be yourself around him. Eventually the night ends, he walks you to the door, and, with a kiss, he leaves you with the promise of talking to you soon.

It’s fantastic to dream, to imagine, to believe. But the saddest reality of all is that this isn’t always the case. Life in general is not like the movies. In a sense, however, this is also a good thing.

There is nothing wrong with the classic ‘dinner and a movie’ route. It’s essentially one of the safest first date options out there, because a) everyone loves food (or at least needs it to survive), and b) there’s bound to be at least one movie out there the two of you can relatively agree on seeing. What’s not as much broadcasted, however, are the dates of a much lower key. Maybe just taking a trip to the mall or going to a concert, or perhaps a night spent indoors watching Netflix and collectively failing at making a batch of cookies (your grandma’s ancient recipe, naturally).

Realistically, extravagant dates are not as much of a commonplace thing as you may think, nor should they be. Your goal with any person you meet that you have a romantic interest in should never be how best to impress them, but instead, simply show them you have a genuine interest in them. Nice dinners are, well, nice. An occasional gift or two is always appreciated. An unexpected phone call can always go a long way.

At the core, however, the best gift I believe you can give to any single person is your time. The time it takes you to text them, or call them, or to plan a trip with them. The most important thing you can do for someone you care about is remind them that you care, and the happiest you are is not what you do with them, but whenever you’re with them.

I’m never one to turn down the common night of dinner and a movie, just the same as I’d be equally okay with spending a night inside watching movies. Going out every now and then is nice, but spending time together alone is all just as well. In fact, it’s the most important thing, really. Figuring out how compatible you two are with as few distractions as possible is not a bad idea, in my opinion. There’s the choice of double-dates too, but it ultimately depends on what you’re comfortable with.

And then there’s the expectations of how the date will actually go. Nearly any person will tell you about their ideal ending, and coincidentally, it’s virtually the same for most people. Here’s the thing though: Every single person is unique. I truly believe there are no two people who are exactly the same. There may be people who are similar, but nobody is a perfect replica. Not everyone has the same set of expectations. For dating, yes, some of these might be the same for both people, but not always. If it’s your first time meeting the person, jumping into bed may or may not be the greatest idea. It is, if it’s what the other person wants. But I believe everyone should feel valued for who they are as individuals, for their personalities and what they’re passionate about, far more than how well they can please you.

I made my anon account on April 6th. Not long after, I struck up a friendship with two guys (and boy is there a story behind it, but now isn’t that time). One of them was all about that sexting life, the other, who he was best friends with, wasn’t as much. The guy who loved talking about sex though was nearly obsessed with my ass after I told him I planned on losing few pounds over the summer by running with my dog, which they both kindly took as me being morbidly obese, which I am not. Did I play along with him? Yes, mainly to see how it felt. To see how I felt. I didn’t learn a lot about what he was interested in, what his favorite movies were, what music he liked (aside from Birthday by Katy Perry), and so on. He was primarily interested in having sex with me. I later found out he wasn’t the relationship type…which I managed to gather as much for myself going off of our conversations.

But moral of the story, I didn’t feel fulfilled. It felt like there was this large chasm between the two of us filled only with words. Sweet and flattering words, I will admit, but words that, at the core, had no true value to me because they told me absolutely nothing about him. I wanted to know what kept him up at night, what his goals were, any horrific, embarrassing childhood stories (as we all have those, right?), but I didn’t get that. Eventually, our friendship broke off (and for the better, trust me).

The tough thing about being interested in people is that looks play a huge factor to so many people. And yes, there are plenty of attractive people out there who me, you, anyone would more than love to sleep with. But how deep of a connection can you have with them? Sure, some of them you can. This doesn’t apply to every single one out there. But solely judging someone based on how they look isn’t going to get you extremely far, just the same as if everyone determined your self-worth by how you look.

I believe looks are important to an extent. Taking good care of yourself is vital, and people should see that you sufficiently achieve that. But the most valuable people you can meet, the ones you need to hang onto no matter what, are the ones who don’t care that you’re a 6 out of 10. The only thing they’re concerned about is how much of you they can love personally, friendship, relationship, whatever. You don’t need to look like a model to have friends or a boyfriend, and anyone who can’t look past your physical appearance is not someone you should be very worried about.

Are exotic dates nice? Of course. But don’t let it consume you. Don’t let it become the expectation, but in all likelihood, the chances of t being consistent are not likely unless you happen to fall for a lawyer or something of the sort. And don’t shut someone down right away if they immediately don’t give you what you’re after. Some of the best relationships come to those who are willing to wait out the storm. And anyone who loves you for who you are, as a complete, whole person, is someone you need to hold on to. The more you hang out with someone without any real expectations for how you want things to go, the more you’ll be able to focus on actually enjoying your time with them.

It can be a slow, drawn-out process, but love exists; you have to be determined enough to go search for it or let it come to you. And most of all, you have to be prepared, because you never know who you can fall for.

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