I’ve been single nearly my whole life. Call it what you want – not attractive enough, too selfish, messed up priorities – despite all of these negative connotations, I’m happy where I am. That being said, a girl’s gotta eat and wouldn’t mind having a partner in crime. Lately, I’ve been hitting the apps hard and the product has been what my close friends know as ‘the rotation’ – a collection of near best friends, confidants, adventure buddies, and fuck buddies I can dial up and hang out within a New York minute. A lot of guys I’ve met through the apps in New York City “aren’t looking for anything serious”, which isn’t too surprising in a city that is powered by coffee, beer, seemingly endless career opportunities, and ignoring getting older. This is all very different from my hometown of Boston where you feel behind if you don’t own a house or are planning on having your 2.5 children before you’re 30. My desires fall somewhere in between the two cities, but at least for the start of this year, I’m enjoying the New Yorker lifestyle.
My increase in dating volume has resulted in an increase in maturity and reflection. I went on 33 first dates in 2018 and it was equal parts exhausting and rewarding. Among the tens of dates, I’ve realized this seemingly endless and exhausting endeavor has a silver lining in hard life lessons:
1. Dating requires for you to vocalize precisely what you want and are feeling
I’m not saying “What are you looking for?” should be a pick-up line when messaging a guy first, but rather finding the right timing to mention where your heads are at. Learning how to vocalize feelings is a lifelong process and is even more important once in a relationship, and you’ll get a taste of what communication between two individuals is from the first mention of “I like you” or “I’m not feeling this”.
2. It makes rejection feel normal
Rejection IS a normal part of life – not getting the job you applied for, that concert you wanted to go to being sold out, your dentist being booked up for three months solid. Rejection therapy is the practice of learning to hear “no” with minimal emotional attachment. Dating, ie an attempt at putting your rawest form onstage for someone to size up, is a great way to learn that rejection has very little (if any) to do with you personally.
3. It requires you to not plan on anything and relax
When first dates go really well, it’s easy to picture all the good times ahead (not to mention what your wedding dress will look like!). For a Type-A person as myself, this is easier said than done. The “I don’t want anything serious” message or vibes used to send me into a frenzy of trying to change his mind via incessant text messages and worrying about what I’ll wear the next time I see him. Engage: Crazy Girl Mode. This is an asinine waste of energy and would have been better directed towards loving the people that are here to stay in my life. After dozens of dates this past year, this mode of operation has thankfully ended and I’ll agree to go out with those guys even if we want different things. Heck, I’ll even say yes to going out with someone that’s only in NYC for the weekend. Lessons will still be learned and good times will still be had with friends, just as they are with non-romantic ones in your life.
4. Taking chances is optional but can show growth
Recently, I kissed a guy first. This doesn’t sound like much to most, but for me this was a HUGE indication of growth in stepping out of my comfort zone. I still miss out on a lot of chances I wish I had taken, but I’m starting to surprise myself with acting in accordance with what I want. I am finally moving in the direction I’m thinking.