What I've Learned About Dating By Going On Less Than One Date
Less than a week ago I turned 25. I had a very excited boy text me multiple times, wishing me happy birthday and triple checking to make sure I was having a good day. This is truly the most commitment I have gotten out of the opposite sex in my quarter of a century. In part, this is because I have become very good at maintaining my singleness. Even without my deeply rooted fears of commitment and affection from men, I am still incredibly independent, stubborn and an always-fun split between a damn lady who needs to be courted by a gentleman and a damn feminist who will not tolerate inequality of any kind, so don’t you dare try to hold open my car door. My Bumble profile basically writes itself.
In walks an unassuming, sweet, kind-hearted man who has decided he wants to pursue me. He begins texting me and asking insightful questions and being, in my humble-commitment-phobic opinion, much too forward. If you have ever seen the movie Inside Out, this is the part where the 12-year-old girl talks to the 12-year-old boy and all of his emotions start running around in his brain, setting off sirens, flipping their shit and screaming, “Girl! Girl!” Except I am 25 and I am the one losing my shit. Every single one of my fears, including ones I didn’t know I had, start presenting themselves to me at the same time. It is like my fears and I are in a car, driving on winding mountain roads, and they are all begging to drive. Fear of commitment. Fear of making the wrong decision. Fear of not being enough. Fear of being too much. Fear of abandonment. They are fighting for control of the steering wheel and I am just trying to not fly off the side of a cliff as the car swerves in and out of oncoming traffic. This is day 1. Of TEXTING.
While I do have quite a bit of flair for the dramatic, I do think this is a fairly common experience. We often talk about the easy parts of dating. The butterflies and the cute coffee dates and the first kisses—all the things that would be Instagram worthy with a light filter and a caption that includes heart emojis. What we don’t talk about is how hard it is to let someone buy you a meal and how much anaphylactic shock you can suffer just from a guy asking the legitimate, straight forward, no-grey-area question, “Can I take you on a date?”
Maybe you’re an expert in the field of dating. Maybe you do it all the time and you don’t get caught up in all the semantics of what you feel before you even go on a first date. Congratulations on your sanity, but this no longer applies to you. Here is what all of my interactions with men have looked like since being an adult: I get dressed up in something that invites attention. I go out with my friends. I say "yes" to cute boys who ask me to dance and aggressively fend off any man who touches me without talking to me first. Whether or not I kiss someone is entirety dependent on how many Moscow mules I consume. I always peace out before a guy can get my number and I leave dissatisfied by the fact that I once again participated in our dating culture’s M.O. that using someone for a couple hours or nights or weeks is okay as long as it is mutual and we do it in the name of avoiding commitment and honesty. So a man being forward and decent and interested is what we might call a culture shock.
One day I will write in more detail about the immunity women have developed for good, honorable men, but for now I will just tell you a story. Girl meets boy. Girl thinks boy is cute. Girl stalks boy on social media and decides that he is funny and not a sociopath. Girl sees boy around town for months and doesn’t know how to speak to him because there is never enough alcohol in her system. In an unexpected plot twist, boy starts pursuing girl out of nowhere. He is kind and attentive and very clearly not playing games. Girl runs for the hills because she is overwhelmed and there is obviously something incredibly wrong with him.
In theory, we want good men to date us, but when good men come around we think it’s a scam. Boys who are mysterious and non-committal and flaky sit across the dinner table from us while men who are good and honorable sit in our friend zones. Good men are better in theory because it is too much work to sort through our own emotions about being unworthy and not enough and damaged, so we settle for the boys who confirm those things instead of letting in the men who challenge what we believe about ourselves.
I started writing this as satire because I think it’s hilarious and alarming how much junk can come up in your heart just from a boy starting to text you and ask you on dates, but honestly, dating is quite literally no joke. For the past three weeks I have felt like a crazy person who could really use a tranquilizer just because I am getting the attention of a boy human who actually wants to know me. If you feel crazy in the dating process, every single female I know and I will say that it’s normal. If you want to run away from good men and would prefer a little more guessing and shit treatment, also know that that’s normal (and I have the number of a good therapist). It doesn’t mean we don’t allow good men to make their way out of the friend zone, and it doesn’t mean we don’t take a strong shot of tequila before we go on a date when they do.
I have no great parting words or sound advice to leave you with, but a dear friend of mine would tell us both to “lean into the discomfort.” First dates and obnoxious texting and learning another human being like an awkward baby giraffe learns to walk are all necessary evils that lead us to deeper connection and intimacy, and I am slowly believing that could be worth it. Godspeed to us and the men we date.
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
In support of Windrose issue 2, we’ve launched a Kickstarter!
In issue 2, you’ll find articles like:
- "On Heartbreak and Healing"
- "The Poison of Perfectionism"
- "In Defense of Loneliness"
- "How Corporate Killed My Creativity And How I Got It Back"
- "On What It Means to Matter: An Interview with Author Hannah Brencher"
And so much more—all real life stories to assure you that you’re not alone as you navigate life in your twenties.