I’ve always been a “boyfriend-type” girl. With the exception of a few short periods here and there, starting at age 14 (which is starting to sound super young as I quickly approach my 27th birthday), I’ve pretty much always been in a relationship. Until about a year ago.
When I entered this “single period” in which I currently find myself, I was naive as hell. For so long, I had lived in a relationship bubble. I didn’t know the first thing about modern dating; standard protocol, generally accepted tendencies, etc.
But I figured that was OK. I always thought of myself as a socially aware person; an intuitive woman who’s decent at reading social cues. A young lady who has a lot to offer; drive, love, loyalty. Which is why I honestly thought that it’d be easy-peasy to meet a nice, smart, motivated, genuine guy who shared my values and life goals, and was upfront about his intentions.
This is the point where you can feel free to laugh at me, because as we all know, the word “easy” doesn’t necessarily go with the word “dating” (well, it does…but come on, ladies, we’re better than that crap). What I’ve learned over the past 12 or so months into my current single life is that the dating scene is more like a free-for-all guessing game made up of mixed signals and narcissistic “I don’t want to settle down and miss out on life’s offerings” behaviors.
Dating is kind of like that team building game you play with new co-workers or classmates. You know, the one where one person is blindfolded and tasked with creating a color-coded structure out of building blocks based on the other person’s verbal direction. What typically results from that game? A lot of pissed off people who couldn’t accomplish the task at hand within the allotted amount of time due to crappy communication.
I feel like that’s how a lot of us ladies feel when it comes to dating. We feel like our biological clocks are ticking, and we can’t get on the same wavelength as our male counterparts; therefore, we can’t successfully accomplish our “task” of marrying and procreating within the allotted time. It’s kind of sick when you think about it like that, but am I really that far off?
But I will say — I feel like our approach is all wrong.
A woman of answers, I’ve done quite a bit of research on females’ reactions to the current dating landscape. And when I say research, I mean that I’ve read a lot of real, raw, “Millennial dating is bull$hit” articles by twenty- or thirty-something women via various publishers. Some common headlines I’ve come across include things like, “Stay Single Until You Meet A Guy Who…,” “He’s Not Your Forever Person Unless…,” “Date A Guy Who Does [This]…,” etc.
And while many of these pieces are extremely well-written and loaded with great female-empowering advice, they’re still hypotheses about the type of guy who will perfectly fill the romantic companionship void we all feel.
By definition, a hypothesis is “a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation” (thank you, Google Dictionary). In other words, it’s a huge &@#$ing guess.
There’s no guarantee that a guy who holds the door for you, or asks about your nightmare co-worker every night, or lines your apartment hallway with rose petals on your anniversary, or takes a strong interest in your family dynamics, is your soulmate. And I’m not downplaying those things, because they’re absolutely important.
And all of those things do sound amazing; like the qualities we’d like our future life partner to possess. But even if a particular guy meets some preconceived criteria and allows us to “check off” all of our figurative life partner “boxes,” there’s still no guarantee that this person is truly right for us.
Think about it. We “match” with guys on dating apps (a territory into which I have yet to venture), so in theory, they should be our perfect counterparts. Or we meet guys through mutual friends and family who insist that we’d be great together, but for one reason or another, it’s just not a match made in Heaven. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason, and it just doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
What it all boils down to: It’s time we stop going into every male interaction with a “might-be relationship” mentality. It’s honestly an addiction that we need to overcome. And contrary to popular belief, we really do have plenty of time to stumble upon our Mr. Right. We can’t solve the dating puzzle right now, and we need to stop trying to solve it. All we’re doing is making ourselves feel on-edge, anxious, frustrated, and confused.
We constantly make fun of guys for being so lackadaisical when it comes to dating, and I can’t believe I’m saying it, but maybe they have it right. When’s the last time one of your guy friends spent hours, days, WEEKS telling the same old story about a potential love interest or his overall dating struggles? I mean, I’ve actually gotten to the point of anger, saying things like, “What do guys think is going to happen; that they’ll just decide they want to settle down one day and it’ll magically happen?” For all we know, maybe that’s exactly what will happen.
In the meantime, let’s try something different. Take it down a notch (or five, or ten). The next Hinge date you go on, or the next Instagram DM you receive, don’t read so damn much into it. Not every male is a potential boyfriend. Great things happen when we least expect it. Let things happen the way they’re supposed to, when they’re supposed to.