Some people luck out: They meet the person they want to spend forever with on their first try, and, despite the odds, it works.
However, it is impossible to have it all, and they then miss out on the bizarre joys of dating around. By that I mean going out on dates with several different people simultaneously instead of committing to one person right away.
As I find myself now in the foreign position of being in an actual, steady relationship, I cannot help but be reflective of my past, long singlehood.
Looking back, one prominent aspect stands out: People in long-term relationships often assume that to be single is to be unhappy, especially single girls.
I’m here to clear up that misconception.
Several of my family members fall into the elite group of people who met their spouse before they turned 20, naturally making me the odd one.
Take my dear mother for example, who started dating my father when she was 16. Every time I came home from a date, she would look at me with hopeful eyes and I would shrug in response, “It was fine.”
To which she gave an exasperated sigh, reminding me that sometimes it takes a few dates before knowing if you like someone.
Here is the thing that she and every other relationship-obsessed person living vicariously through my strange and often depressing dating life did not understand: I was not dating with any real intentions of finding “the one.”
Trust me. I went on enough terrible dates, leaving me rather doubtful in the men of my generation. I had to change my mindset.
When I started treating dating around to get to know myself rather than as a mission to fall in love, it became a lot more enjoyable.
Before any date, I decided that I’m not looking for “forever.” I’m having fun.
For me, dating around was not about finding a soul mate. That’s like looking for a unicorn: You’re pretty much just seeking disappointment. And seeking disappointment might qualify you as a masochist.
While dating, I found myself across from 21st-century hippies, the boring and money-obsessed, liberals, conservatives, misogynists, undergrads, postgraduates, real-job holders and, yes, some of them were great guys.
Others were equally terrible making me quite familiar with my iPhone’s “block-number” feature.
There were weeks I went on three dates and my friends would look at me perplexed at the fact that I said “yes” to almost any guy.
Unless he gave off a serial killer vibe, I was going on that date, and if it went poorly, well, hey: The melancholic truth of being a writer is that the most awful experiences make the best material.
Besides, how would I have known what I wanted in a person if I only said yes to my “type”? Clearly, my type was not working and I would have missed out a on a lot of experiences.
Through dating guys completely wrong for me and some who probably could have been right at a different time, I learned a lot about myself.
I found what I like and don’t like, made friends, improved my communication skills and, best of all, gained a lot of confidence.
I also found my faith in men restored when they sometimes said something really simple, but astounding. Like the guy who told me that sometimes girls overlook the good guys.
Yeah, yeah. I already knew that, but it made something click. While he was not my “good guy,” it pushed me toward the right one. At the least, the right one for right now.
What I have now could fall apart next month — even though I hope not — but I know if I find myself back on the dating scene, it won’t be the end of the world.