I had the great romantic privilege of experiencing my first kiss when I was 15 (I was a late bloomer, okay?) at summer camp, of course.
Within the span of a single month, I had two camp boyfriends and then proceeded to be single until I was 20. Like I said, I was a late bloomer.
It's been nine years since that INCREDIBLY awkward first kiss (seriously, it was so, so awkward), and I'm amazed by how much I've learned since then.
With three boyfriends and subsequent breakups tucked under my belt, I'm currently in a state of singledom and about to adopt my first cat.
It's very possible that I'm on the brink of cat lady spinsterhood, but I'm optimistic that this is just me getting my sh*t together before I dive back into the dating scene.
I actually never really learned how to dive, so I'm expecting more like a really painful belly flop.
Regardless of my diving skills, I’m still pretty confident that dating will not be as harrowing as it’s appeared to me in the past. Here are a few things that I’ve figured out:
Hook-up culture isn’t real.
Okay, well it is real, but it’s also a choice. If you’re only looking for sex, no commitment, then good for you. But if you really want to build something more with another person, there are other ways to do it.
Actual dating does exist. Our generation doesn’t have very high expectations in that area, so it’s a bit more difficult to find, but it’s out there.
Online dating isn’t such a big deal.
A decade ago, meeting someone online was the ultimate stranger danger. It’s taken a while for the stigma of online dating to go away, but with apps like Tinder, it’s pretty much impossible for people to ignore how normal it is.
This normalization may actually be a result of the hook-up culture, come to think of it. Because it’s so difficult to find someone who’s looking for something serious in a world of casual sex, dating sites have become almost necessary. Okay, not necessary, but they make an unnecessarily difficult process a bit less difficult.
You don’t focus on what your date will think of you.
Instead you wonder if you’ll like him or her. There’s no reason why your date wouldn’t like you, right? You’re awesome.
If he or she isn’t into you, it ain’t no thang. Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t feel that necessary connection? Okay, yeah, if you really liked the date then it's a bit of a let down, but you don't waste your time dwelling.
You don’t overanalyze.
“He said this, but he did this, so he must mean this.” No. Just no.
If you’re with someone whose actions and words actually need to be dissected as such, you're better off without this person. Leave the decryption to Indiana Jones and find yourself someone who knows how to communicate honestly.
If someone likes you, he or she will put in the effort.
None of that beating around the bush, “do they or don’t they” crap. The whole point of dating is finding someone you like and acting on it. I get that people are shy and awkward and blah, blah, blah. If they like you, they will suck it up and make sure you know.
Finding love, hell, even just dating, requires people to go out of their comfort zones. If someone is not putting in the effort, then he or she is not worth your effort. The end.
Dating/Relationships are not the be all, end all.
While a love life is enjoyable and snuggling is quite nice, you have a life of your own. You do not need a significant other in order to feel complete or satisfied.
You have more important things to occupy your thoughts than whether or not you have a freaking date on Friday night.
If you do, awesome. If you don’t, whatever.
You know better than to run everything by your friends.
If you’re just giving your friends a play-by-play of someone that you’re dating, it will only cause you to overanalyze, which, as we have already established, doesn't do any good.
If you’re telling them about the problems you and your significant other are having, they only know your version of the story. At best, their advice will be telling you to talk to your significant other.
In the end, only you and your significant other know what your relationship is truly like and only the two of you will be able to solve your problems.
It’s okay to be picky…
Your standards exist for a reason. You know what you want out of a relationship and you know what you definitely don’t like. Past experience has taught you a thing or two.
At this point you trust yourself to know what you want and you do not have to apologize for that.
...but it’s important to be open-minded.
…to a certain extent, anyway. You never know where you’ll find the qualities that you desire. Just because you have an idea of your ideal person doesn’t mean that’s the package that you’ll find him or her in.
However, if the spark just isn’t there, if there’s just no connection, there’s really no need to give someone a chance (romantically).
Sampling every single thing that comes your way is an okay attitude to have toward dessert, but dating? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It