It is so easy to look back on time you spent texting someone you never end up meeting, bad first dates, or dating someone for weeks only to have it end before it ever really got started, as time wasted. However, it is never a waste of time. I guarantee each person taught you something.
For the past few years throughout my time dating, there are three important things that three different men said to me that has stuck with me. Their words have echoed in my mind as reminders that my perception is dictated by false beliefs about love and I am worthy of more.
1. You have to let someone take care of you sometimes.
It has taken me a long time to realize that being independent does not mean you can’t accept gestures from someone. If you accept those gestures, it also doesn’t mean you owe them anything. You can let someone pay for you. You are worthy of letting someone drive the further distance to meet you. You can let someone pick you up, and drive you. Accept it, say thank you, and enjoy being taken care of. This is true for all relationships. That being said, make sure you feel safe and comfortable, especially when it comes to dating. Just remember, it’s about balance. Take turns. Everyone is equally worthy.
2. If someone only meets your needs if they are a reflection of theirs, then move on.
There is a difference between needs and wants. If you need someone who is loyal, and they can’t give that to you, let them go. If you need quality time with someone and they can’t give that to you, let them go. We are imperfect, and we can’t be 100% all the time, but there should be a genuine effort in meeting your needs, even if they are different than theirs. This also means you have to be honest about your needs and communicate them in a way that isn’t demanding. Communicate them vulnerably. We all deserve someone who cares about our needs and wants to meet them.
3. If you don’t like something sexually, you don’t have to do it.
This may seem contrary to the previous lesson, but it’s not. There are sexual acts that are needs, and there are sexual acts that are wants. Ultimately, it takes active communication to connect sexually. It means telling your partner what they do that you like and not compromising yourself to please them. If you’ve ever been in a manipulative relationship or cheated on, you may have a fear that if you don’t do something sexually, the person will leave. This was an eye-opening lesson when I had a man tell me “if you don’t like it, don’t do it.” I’m a firm believer that it’s important to try something before you decide you like it or not and try it with someone you care about and feel comfortable with. However, if you really hate something, you aren’t obligated to do it just for the sake of your partner. The best thing you can do is explore with your partner and find what satisfies both of you. When it comes to dating, that should be the reason you wait before being intimate. Waiting until you feel safe, comfortable, and ready to communicate during sex is important.
There’s something beautiful about having someone believe you deserve something, even if they can’t give it to you. Every person teaches you something. Remember that. If you take the time to reflect on your past dating “failures”, you will realize they weren’t failures at all. I am sure you can find a lesson to take from them. I deserve to be taken care of, I deserve to have my needs met, and I do not need to compromise myself to please others. I hope you believe that’s true for you, too.