With the latest technology in our pockets, our Google calendars crammed with appointments, and a million different social media sites open in our browser, sometimes it can be too easy to get caught up in our overly complicated lifestyles. Often times I find myself unconsciously overcomplicating things that don’t necessarily have to be that way. Logistics for a night out with friends, coordinating lunch with clients, or even something so simple like how to approach certain topics of conversation with my family.
In Nolan’s acclaimed thriller, Inception (2010), the protagonist explains that in order for an idea to stick in someone’s mind, it must be presented in its simplest form. All the excess fat needs to be trimmed in order to allow for the idea to develop naturally.
And when applied to everyday life, this theory makes sense. Apple owes its success in the technology sector to simplifying complicated technology and thus making it more accessible to the everyday user.
Whatever issues we may be mulling over can always be stripped down and simplified, which, in turn, help us make better and more conscious decisions.
While this approach can be applied on many fronts, one such area that’s particularly convoluted with unnecessary shenanigans is dating.
Something that used to be as simple as “Hello, I like you. May I please buy you dinner? Do you share the same feeling?” has evolved into, “I’m going to act like I like you less than you like me.”
“You’re the one for me. Will you be my girlfriend?” has become, “Well, it’s complicated. We’re not together, but we’re not seeing other people. But I want to keep my options open. It’s not serious.”
“Can I call you tonight?” turned into, “I don’t want to double text.”
Overly concerned with how we’re perceived by others, we choose to hide our vulnerability. Everyone has a “well you first” attitude in order to play it safe. If two people want to go swimming together but neither wants to get wet first, guess what? No one swims. Often we mask our true feelings behind vague statements and mixed signals. So much so that we end up unnecessarily complicating our own lives. Simplifying the way we communicate with others will simplify our own lives.
Always know why you’re dating someone. Don’t date just to date. The biggest mistake for dating is going into something without any idea of what you want or where you wish to arrive. Some call it “taking it day by day” or “just going with it,” but in reality, it’s a recipe for disaster. Yes, knowing what you want means work. It means evaluating yourself and figuring out if A, you want to date. And B, if yes, why do you want to date? What kind of person would you like to date and why? Who do you want to become? What kind of character traits would he/she have? These traits will undoubtedly rub off on you, so choose admirable traits. Unless you figure this out, you’ll more than likely find yourself in an ambiguous dating situation where neither party knows exactly what is going on. Miscommunication and lack of preparation will lead to broken hearts. Define the goal before playing the game.
2. Gut instinct.
Follow your gut. When dating someone new, we don’t know what kind of previous situation he/she is coming from or what kind of baggage is attached. Our gut is usually pretty good at steering us clear from danger. If you feel that something is off, or something isn’t right, it probably isn’t. Instead of allowing your hormones to do all the talking, take some time to really listen to your gut. It could save you from heartache later on. You had a feeling he only wanted sex? You had a feeling she was just rebounding? You felt like you were just something on the side? Aside from housing a beer belly, your gut is there for a reason. Put your ego and “challenge-accepted” attitude aside, and listen to it.
3. Always express it.
Stop caring about how you’re perceived. If you feel a certain way, express it! Say what’s on your mind. Drop the passive aggressive act. Stop trying to get him or her to fish it out of you. If you want him or her to spend more time with you, just say it. If you wish you guys talked on the phone more instead of just texting all day, simply express this. If you think there are areas for improvement in your relationship, let him/her know. The burden is much lighter when you unload your concerns, instead of letting them grow inside as you allow every little thing he/she does or does not do to dictate your stress and pull on your heartstrings.
4. Set your own pace.
It’s always better to go slower than faster. Like cutting hair, it’s better to cut slower than faster. You can always cut off more later, but you can’t undo a big cut that you regret. Just because you have undeniable chemistry and she loves Game of Thrones or he loves all the same bands as you do, it doesn’t mean rushing fully into it is justified. If you arrive at the Grand Canyon and marvel at its beauty, you still don’t just run forward into the canyon to explore. While you realize its beauty, you begin to carefully prepare, packing your hiking bag with all the necessary gear and figuring out the trails ahead of time. You end up getting a much better experience that way, and the same is true for dating. While it may be tempting when hormones are soaring, really taking the time to figure out if this person is right for you is not only better for you in the long run, but it’s the considerate thing to do. Take the time to see how the person handles him or herself in different environments, how she or he reacts to both victories and losses; get to know him or her on many different levels and what his or her values and priorities are. Are your end goals the same? If not, be able to be honest with yourself and move on.
Dating is simple. All we need to do is be courageous enough to allow it to be.