Dating is the worst. I’ve been reluctant to post about this for a while because I thought that this was just my experience and it was reflective of my cynical but honest Liz Lemon-like personality. It’s not. Now I am posting because I know it is a collective experience, both with men and women. We are doing it wrong.
Dating – The actual practice as it stands now, is off kilter. We do too much online matching, texting and social media when we should be meeting people, calling them up and living life with them. Dating is the worst because well… people like things easy and dating is the antithesis. Dating is the worst because people lack intention, both with themselves and with others.
I have a few ideas of how we can do better. And if you are resigning to read this because you already have a significant other or you have left single-hood in the dust long ago, read on– there are juicy nuggets in here for you too.
- Be honest about what you want. The older I get the more I realize that deep down I know exactly what I want. There are things I won’t compromise on like faith and family values but then there are just wants on the list like Irish accents and the ability to grow a wicked beard. Compromise. Know your deal breakers.
- Don’t assume anything. You know what they say about assuming. Realize that at the other end of the conversation is an actual human and that they have their own thoughts, feelings and intentions. Don’t assume that just because someone agreed to have dinner or drinks with you that you are dating. You’re not. To actually be dating takes time, it takes initiative to get to know another person. Infatuation may come quickly but liking and loving certainly take a lot more work. Actually ask what the other person wants and is looking for. You may be surprised to find they actually just want to spend time getting to know another human. Shocker, I know.
- Be intentional about communication. Ok, I’m guilty of this. It’s so much easier to text you than it is to line up our schedules and actually have a conversation. It’s also a lot easier to just stop texting in general when you are “done” with someone. It’s hard to pick up the phone because we , millennial’s especially, hate talking on the phone. We like easy. Dating is not easy because relationships are not easy. Picking up the phone goes a lot farther with getting to know someone but you also need to be clear about setting time to spend together. If you are intentional about dating a person or even getting to know them, don’t just wait to have free time.
- Stop trying harder. If someone doesn’t like you, that should not be a cue for you to try harder. If you don’t like me, I don’t like you because your dislike of me is a total turnoff. Why should I keep trying harder if we clearly don’t see eye to eye. If someone lets you know that you are not what they are looking for, be thankful, they are not what you are looking for. Because if you are not right for someone they are not right for you. Someone will eventually come alongside you and want to take time to spend with you and get to know you regardless of circumstance.
- Intentionally pursue. We can be friends. I think men and women can be friends. I’m actually a great friend. And I have a ton of really awesome guy friends. But, if you want to date me… its a helluva lot harder. Friends are people you enjoy spending time with and you do life together…Dating is the intention of BUILDing a life together. See the difference. Men need to pursue women consistently but women also need to allow and expect the pursuit to happen. This doesn’t mean that one gender has all the power or you expect gender roles to be solid. I think they are fluid and I don’t mind paying for a meal or opening my own door. It goes deeper than that. It is you calling me at the end of the day because you want to know how my day is, not just because you want to talk about yours. It’s me taking care of you when your sick, getting to know your family, knocking off things on both of our bucket lists together and praying for one another earnestly just because we want to.
Being intentional doesn’t have to coincide with a lot of expectations. Yes it is a big deal, but at the end of the day if I am not right for you…YOU are not right for me and we’re going to both be ok. We can remain single forever…and still be OK. Stop allowing yourself to accept anything less than extraordinary in your relationships. We only have so much time to spend with people, make those people worth spending time with. Be intentional. Make plans but also be flexible. Accept that people are fallible and they screw up and sometimes are crazy and weird and just need love. Be empathetic to people’s pasts. Understand that sometimes it’s really not them and it is sometimes YOU. Be better. Do better. Love harder and with intention.
Oh right… married friends and people who know singles. Advice to you… stop telling your single friends that they will find the right person. It takes a village for everything. If you are constantly saying that so and so would be perfect for so and so then set so and so up with so and so. Be intentional about loving your single friends enough to help them find what you have, if you truly believe what you have is worth finding. Be intentional about loving them and listening to their woes. Don’t pass off their experiences as mindless banter. Maybe they are perfectly fine with being single. Don’t disregard their place in life just because it isn’t the same as yours. Some people remain single forever, that is ok. Their lives don’t have to be any less full.
My being content with singleness doesn’t negate the fact that I would like to find my person. I want someone to do life with. But, not so much that I am willing to settle. Being content with singleness doesn’t negate the fact that your single friends might be lonely. They might just want to spend time with another human. If I had a nickel for every single lady friend I have right now that just wants to be asked out on a date by a gentleman, I could buy a whole coke. They want to be pursued.
There are more single people now than ever before. I think it’s about time we had an open dialog about it.