7 Important Dating Survival Skills For 20-Somethings

There are many talents and skills in life that come very natural to me, The ability to pick up on social cues, drawing, reading and comprehension, drinking most men under the table and giving substantial, relevant advice to those in need.

Among basic human tasks, like feeding myself, and punctuality, to outlandish outfit choices; Dating has always been a sacred realm that I’ve been naïve and one of the many skills I’ve struggled with for a good portion of my adult life.

Doomed to envisioning life as a hopeless romantic, and birthed as an ugly duckling; dating is a new, terrifying crusade that can easily be misconstrued and manipulated in many forms. I started this journey with one long relationship after another, leaving no time in between to discover the kind of person I wanted to become, or the kind of person I would want to be with. Since then I’ve been enjoying, and loathing single life simultaneously for the better portion of three years. I want to share with you some discoveries I’ve unsheathed during this enduring time in my life, Here are the 7 survival tips I’ve learned in my early 20s about dating:

1. Friends with benefits is never beneficial

Time and time again I find myself drunk on whiskey. Sometimes as I’m blinded by alcohol and lust. I am a human and I’m notorious for making foolish mistakes with friends.

Now I don’t think hooking up with your buddy that one time after an R. Kelly concert constitutes as friends with benefits, the man’s music practically is an aphrodisiac as it is. No, what I’m referencing is that friend in your life whose bed you continuously wake up in a hazy, hung over daze. Sure, this can be temporarily filling a void in your heart, and it feels good, but eventually it will turn into a messy, and even to a self-destructive bad habit.

It’s almost inevitable that one of you will develop stronger feelings than the other. This leads to an awkward gray area of not knowing when to cut ties and potentially hurt the other person’s feelings. No one likes to hurt their friends, or watch someone you care for suffer unless you’re some kind of horrible monster.

Through personal experience, I have had on multiple occurrences where F.W.B has felt like I was in a relationship with that person. It has been extremely one-sided, and has put my mind and body through much pain and suffering in hopes that the trite cheap romance would blossom into one of those “great loves.”

I have found myself, making sacrifices for people who were not willing to reciprocate anything in return. If you’re going to embark on a journey like this, be mindful of what you’re desires and goals are. I wouldn’t completely cut off all options of hooking up with your friends, but when it begins to become unhealthy it’s time to cut it off. More often than not, these people will no longer be involved in your life. The emotional trauma was too much of a burden for either of you to endure. I think sometimes, it’s best to just keep certain friends as friends, or cut them out all together. You’re emotional needs should take president over everyone else’s, and there is no need for unnecessary tears. Save those for someone who wants to be with you. You cannot force someone to feel a certain way, maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.

2. Meaningless sex will always be meaningless

I’ve been on the receiving end of this more than the giving side. Like I mentioned previously, I’m pretty good at picking up on social cues. I can almost always tell when a hook-up is no more than just that. A lot of us have a knack for looking for love in all the wrong places, some have one-night-stands and expect unrealistic things from perfect strangers. Most of these people are not looking for a relationship (in-fact some of them might even be in one already) Use these people as bodies, leave it at that.

It can be fun, and exciting; it will always leave you with a good story to tell the next day as you charge your dead phone after that awful, freezing 15 block walk in 5” heels and scraps of clothing. As long as you’re being safe, fuck it. Leave all labels aside and have a good time, even if it is just for one night. If you find yourself continuously seeking companionship from mysterious silhouettes, maybe it’s time for a self-evaluation. You should never leave with regrets, you might not be ready to handle the informality of it and that’s perfectly fine.

3. Keep it Casual

Too often I find everyone is always so eager to rush into a long-term relationship. We must nurture the tender first steps of dating as we would anything else. Relationships take an investment of time, energy, and emotions. Casual dating in some parts of the world is almost unheard of. It’s a useful tool that can be used to discover shared interests, and personality types. It saves from being blindsided by traits that are undesirable.

Mother always told me not to put all my eggs in one basket, and that’s a good rule to live by in terms of dating. Unless you see things progressing with someone further than dinner, and drinks; keep your options open. This can be a fun experience, and can help you decide what you want and you’ll become more confident when you do decide to progress things further.

Don’t be so eager to throw a label on it, you might end up regretting it sooner than you think. Come up with creative things you both enjoy doing and spend time getting comfortable with people, converse about topics important to you and see their views, take it slow, and don’t get too involved to quickly.

4. Being single isn’t a death sentence

Let’s face it, as much of a “strong independent” individual we may be, we have all found ourselves on a cold Friday night bellowing to Netflix after watching “Sleepless in Seattle”; wrapped tightly in a mess of bed sheets, wine, and junk foods wishing we had someone on their way home to show affection to us.

Humans are strange creatures, which need to be reminded that they are loved and cared for. For some of us, a relationship could mean more than a successful career, good grades in school, and self-exploration. If you can’t learn to make yourself feel better, how can you expect anyone else to give a shit? You should not be searching for love; this will lead to heartache and heartbreaks. They will never be able to live up to the one in your mind. No more tears, no more crying. Pick yourself up, it’s time to find new hobbies you enjoy; read a book, join a gym, try a new recipe, there are so many things in this world that you have yet to experience. You’ve got the rest of your life to be committed, the rest of your life to start a family.

Use this time wisely, you might find yourself wishing you had done more things when you had the chance to do them without having to consider someone else’s feelings, views, or needs first.

5. Don’t dwell on lost loves

Just because so and so cheated on you, just because so-and-so ignored your calls, just because so and so didn’t consider your emotions doesn’t mean this new so and so is going to do the same. You aren’t with that person you were with anymore for a reason. You’ve found someone new, and hopefully they have done nothing to break your trust, or belittle you.

Organize your messy bleeding heart, and throw away all miserable memories of lovers past. Just don’t disregard all morals, or make the same mistakes. It won’t leave you any room for progression, and you’ll find yourself in a similar situation to the last burden you were in. Give this person the benefit of the doubt; comparing them to the train-wreck of your last love is not fair for them. Only if they give you a reason to distrust them, or if start acting like there may be someone else on the side confront them head on about it. Instead of dwelling on things you cannot change, embrace the new effervescent soul in front of you.

Pick their brain, and break down the walls we as humans so often build so high. Let them in to what goes on within your illuminated mind, and make new monumental milestones. Maybe even your morbid, dismal memories of betrayal and anguish will begin to dissipate because you’re too busy worrying about the new pleasures and experiences this person brings into your life.

6. Distance actually does make the heart grow stronger

Grow up and accept the fact that you are in each other’s lives, and you are not each other’s lives.

People have other things on their plates aside from you. Relationships operate on trust, truth, and space. Consider the fact that maybe they actually did forget to call you when they got off work; maybe they have had a bad day and honestly just don’t want to talk about it. Stop being so self absorbed and give them a chance to miss you, vice versa. Typically, if they were going out with friends and didn’t respond to your text messages; they were just out having a good time. People are so quick to jump to conclusions, and curate delusions expecting the worst from the person they “love.”

It astonishes me how quickly an individual can be totally normal at the beginning of the relationship, and then by the end of it has turned into some deranged stranger, Some people say Jealousy is healthy, I don’t know if I totally agree with this but I do know it’s a natural emotion. Don’t let that ugly monster ruin your views or skew your trust on someone. Keep it under control. Of course this person is going to talk to other people, they might have friends that are attractive, and they might hangout with them one on one. Just remember they are in a relationship with YOU not them, if you haven’t a reason to distrust them why would this be any different?

Keep your goals in mind, you should compliment each other’s ambitions, not hinder or distract each other from accomplishing them. Sometimes it’s okay if work comes first, thinking about your future and being able to support yourself (and potentially this person as well) should always be held above whatever immediate trivial plans they may or may not be able to attend.

If you don’t see the person you are with everyday, it will make the times you do spend together something to get excited about. Co- dependency is an issue we as a society often sweep under the rug. It can be as unhealthy and self destructive as shoving a needle in your arms.

7. Don’t follow all the advice you read

I get a lot of inspiration for the pieces I write because I spend a lot of time exploring what you at home are reading, from that I create a substantial, personal, and rational interpretation of relevant topics that individuals like yourself can relate to. Independent Internet publications are the way of the future; it has allowed my words to be able to enter into the homes and hearts of entities like you.

My only hope is that as I purge my personal struggles and colossal discoveries for the world to see, someone out there is moved by my long-winded words of wisdom. Unfortunately with the rise of these personal publications, comes the rise of millions of articles that are arbitrary and absolutely outrageous. Even on respectful, prestigious publications I have seen certain pieces that must have slipped through the cracks. There are so many articles about how you should have to change for someone you love, or how men/women are attracted to specifically this or that. These kinds of ideologies are what are making us so insecure. It’s giving the individuals a false sense of standards of what is desirable. This is completely and unfair, and should not blur morals or guidelines of what is ethical and reasonable within our own minds. I once read a piece that referenced sex; it stated that if you are in a social situation where others around you are talking about sex and it makes you uncomfortable, to keep your mouth shut. This absolutely enraged me, why would you put yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable? It is our right as human beings to have individual comfort levels and boundaries. What society deems as acceptable should not reflect our own personal standards. Don’t change your beliefs or do things just because you feel pressured, it’s going to take away from the beautiful celestial being you are becoming.

There are so many people in this world, one of them is bound to share the same limitations, and have the same view on things as you. Be yourself and if someone can’t handle that then you have nothing else to offer him or her. Don’t degrade yourself for anyone.

I am certain there are people in this world that will be quick to judge this article, the information I’ve provided is just a personal opinion, If it is beneficial and relevant to you in your life I am glad I could be of some kind of service. The realm of dating is unique to each of us, sure there are similarities but we are all different people and have different views. It’s part of what makes the place and time we live in so enchanting and mysterious. The information provided has come from over two decades of heartbreak, and becoming trials that have transformed and continue to manipulate the person I will embody when it is my time to pass. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Shutterstock

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