I really like stories. No surprise there. And as I collect my own stories about dating and hear other people’s stories, I’ve developed certain opinions. I don’t want to call them guidelines because your mileage may vary. But they are things that, based purely on anecdotal evidence, appear to be helpful or true or, at the very least, entertaining to think about.
I’ve decided to call this series the Dating Beat. So without further ado, here we go:
1. Have single friends.
I’m not saying you can’t also have non-single friends. Assumedly you would even if you were starting from scratch, since at some point some of your single friends will become not single anymore. I’m also not saying you shouldn’t talk to your non-single friends about dating or being single or whatever else.
But having some single friends is key. I don’t think their gender or orientation or age necessarily matter very much. It’s the singleness that is important. (Well, that, and ideally having more than one, so that when one of them finds a significant other, you still have single friends.)
Why? Because having single friends normalizes the experience of being single. There are a lot of single people in the world, but if you are constantly surrounded by people who are in romantic relationships, it can be easy to lose sight of that fact. And in a culture that often places pressure on single people, this normalization is especially important for maintaining a healthy outlook.
And it doesn’t hurt to have people who are dating right now with whom to swap stories, get advice, and share those moments of dating suckitude.
2. When someone you have recently started dating tells you something less than complimentary about themselves, believe them.
You know what I mean, right? There’s that moment when the guy says, “I’m trouble.” And guess what. He probably is! Or she says, “I’m not very good at relationships.” She probably isn’t!
Other statements that fall under this category:
- I’m not very good with people.
- I have trouble with commitment.
- You’d be better off without me.
- I tend to hurt the people I love.
- I’m usually thinking about the next thing I’m going to say instead of listening.
- I break a lot of hearts.
So, okay, yes, context matters. But usually when people say these kinds of things, they are telling the truth. Unfortunately, what happens next is often that the person they’re with doesn’t take the statement seriously, or feels badly for them, or takes it as a challenge, or thinks they will be different.
You’re probably not going to be different. And compassion is great and all, but not at your own expense. Yes, some of these things might be said because of low self-esteem or inexperience. And maybe some of them aren’t a big deal to you. But at the very least they give you an inkling of what you can expect in the future. It’s all data, and you get to decide what, if anything, to do with it. And if you don’t want to deal with it, there is absolutely no shame in not continuing to date the person.
And that is the dating beat for today, my friends.