The dating field is as confusing as ever, much in part to the endless dating apps, social media and new "rules" to follow all of the time.
It can be tricky to know if you are organically hitting it off with a person, playing a role and putting up a facade or even INTERESTED in dating, or if you're just following the crowd.
For me, I used to think I was "unlovable" (wah, wah, wah...) and that everyone else at least had SOMETHING going on with SOMEONE, even if it was toxic or stupid.
Then one day, my girlfriend told me if it was just about finding a boyfriend, I would have one already, and my standards that were getting in the way of that.
Well. Wasn't that a nicer way to think of it.
For one, it gave me self-confidence and value instead of putting myself down. Secondly, it explained why I was always judging my friends' relationships so badly and lastly, it helped me realize that she was right. There are lots of "guys I would never go out with" who were interested in me online and IRL, and I just brushed them off because I didn't view them romantically.
Since then, I've learned there are essentially two ways to date: Dating for attention and dating with standards. Here's how to tell the difference.
Dating for attention is saying yes to every offer. Dating with standards is saying yes if you have nothing better to do with your time.
If you are seeking attention, are bored or want to feel like you are desirable, you're likely saying yes to most offers that come your way.
And hey – more power to you! There is definitely something to be said for going on many, many dates and learning more about your tastes, likes, dislikes, etc.
However, dating with standards means you only say yes when you are genuinely interested in the person who has asked you out, and you genuinely have nothing else more important or preferable to do with your time.
This means, this person is worthy of taking you away from whatever else you have going on with your life.
Dating for attention is wanting a reason to dress up. Dating with standards is wanting to hit it off.
Think about what part of dating is fun for you. Is it all the pomp and circumstance of going out? The fanfare of getting a blowout, buying an outfit, getting your nails done and fancy cocktails? The will-we-won't-we-kiss part of the cab ride home?
TBH, I LOVE those parts about dating.
But if you're dating with standards, the best part about the date for you is the other person. Of course, all the frilly details are fun, but in your case, a date is an opportunity to connect with another human, not just an opportunity to wear a new blouse.
Dating for attention is "playing games." Dating with standards is being honest about your feelings.
Find yourself in a pattern of "u up?" text messages and counting how many times you messaged your last date first? Honey, you're playing games.
Dating for attention is just that: attention-seeking. So a lot of your communication is going to revolve around evoking a reaction and not worrying too much about real emotions.
When you're dating with standards, you are more likely to be honest with your feelings, good or bad. That's because you are more interested in the quality of the relationship than the quantity of the attention you're getting.
Dating for attention is hooking up drunk. Dating with standards is kissing sober.
Now, this is NOT to bash sex for the sake of sex. Everyone's entitled to it.
However, dating for attention is the same thing as seeking temporary companionship. It's a quick fix to a lonely bed, or the opportunity to play sex queen for a night.
Dating with standards is consciously and soberly choosing to hook up with someone because you are drawn to them on an intimate level. It's about the emotional long game, and not the physical short game.
Dating for attention is following your brain. Dating with standards is following your gut.
If you're dating for attention, you might find yourself asking your girlfriends to weigh in a lot on what they think, what they would do and how they feel about the guy you're seeing.
You'll put together a theory or form an opinion on the person you're dating that's based on a subconscious list of info you've been collecting.
You'll probably think things like, "Well, he's nice... but there's no spark," or "We had a lot of fun the second and fourth date, but I don't know, it's been weird since then."
On the flip side, dating with standards means you are basing your feelings for someone off of one thing and one thing only: your gut.
How does this person make you FEEL? Do you want to be with them because of who they are and not how many checkmarks they tally up?
Both are great reasons to hit the playing field and give love a go, but it will help you in the long run to figure out fast what you're looking for out of a date: A partner? Or fun?
Either way, treat yourself to the blowout. Blowouts are fun.