Listen, dating in today’s society is hard. We all know that. We have so many options available to us with the swipe of a finger, the opening of an app and the ability to choose whom we want based on a few lines and a snapshot.
We have multiple websites that show us pictures of cute dates and what “happy couples” look like. We have Facebook and Instagram showing us what we’re “missing.”
We’re hounded by our family members asking, “Why aren’t you dating someone yet? You’re 23! You should be out there!”
Basically, everyone who surrounds us tells us we’re missing out by not being in relationships.
But, having so many options are our disposal makes it easy for us to think that whom we want isn’t out there, that the person won't be found on a dating app or in the dim lighting of a bar.
We sit with our friends and say, “I want him to be smart and funny and have a face like Justin Timberlake” or “She should cook and like football and have an ass like Nicki Minaj.”
But, here’s the thing that none of those sites will tell you, my fine friends: Those people don’t exist.
A version of those people may exist, sure. She could be a total babe, but could burn any food she tries to cook. He could be super smart and funny, but also be a little overweight.
We place these expectations on relationships and if they don’t exactly fit what we want, we give up. There’s always someone else to find and see if they fit the requirements we’re looking for.
Being a generation of “if this doesn’t work out, I can turn around and find someone else” makes finding a genuine connection with someone extremely difficult.
When I met my boyfriend, I was instantly attracted to him and felt a serious connection. It was the first time I actually wanted date someone in a few years. After a few months of dating, I went on a trip to Europe as a graduation present to myself.
I was standing in a London tube station when I looked at my best friend and said, “It’s so strange to see who we end up with, you know?"
I always thought I would date some lanky, 6'2" (I’m 5'2" — what do I need with someone a foot taller than me?) guy who's as obsessed with reading as I and wanted to watch "Harry Potter" marathons in onesies.
We could make dinner together and go see Broadway shows. He would compliment me every day, leave me sweet love notes, buy me random presents and agree that "How to Train Your Dragon" is amazing while we book a flight somewhere. He would have some absurd name like Hunter or Thayer.
But, I learned from being with my boyfriend was that I didn't want that other guy. Previously, I looked at what worked with my best friends and wanted to apply that to a relationship.
But, that’s not how it works. Sure, my boyfriend is funny, likes staying in, and supports and cares for me, but the differences between my boyfriend and I are what make us work.
We talk about what’s on the news and also have ridiculous hypothetical conversations. He doesn’t like reading or having insane movie marathons. We watch "South Park" and eat nachos. He calls me out on my bullsh*t, which is what I need during this drawn-out transition period of my 20s.
When he compliments me, I know he means it, because he doesn't do it incessantly. As they say in "(500) Days of Summer," — allow me to paraphrase here — he’s better because he’s real.
He’s not something I dreamed up; he’s a real, live living person who challenges me and makes me want to evolve as a human instead of staying stuck in fantasies.
It’s okay to have standards; it’s important, actually. You should want to be treated a specific way and should look for certain characteristics, but whomever you are dreaming up likely doesn’t exist.
By dreaming up these people, we restrict ourselves from obtaining great things. We put stock in what movies and magazines tell us we need and should want out of relationships instead of listening to our hearts.
We don't control who comes into our lives, but we do get to control who stays.
Find the person you want when you let go of the dream mate mentality. Accept that life will give you who you want when you stop thinking so hard about it.
Know that you won't check everything off that list, but you will find someone who will love, challenge, accept and support you. That person may not be who you expect, but he or she will be exactly who you need.