Dating, both online and in person, is an adventure. Years ago, before my very first relationship when I was in the “dating game,” so to speak, I remember feeling my emotions rise and fall like a wooden roller coaster. I would get so anxious about stupid things — should I message immediately or should I wait like 7 minutes? Is all black cool and mysterious or just drab? I feel as if my brain has changed this go around (perhaps, my prefrontal cortex has reached peak functionality?) and, for me, the biggest shift has been in this one small, yet powerful adjustment in my mindset.
In my early 20s, I mentally approached each new prospect with an abundance of hope and excitement. Omg, is this it!? Is he… the one? As I type this, I cannot help but laugh and feel a tinge of embarrassment at the inner workings of my mind. I watched too many Disney princess movies on a loop as an impressionable lass (and it shows!). Back then, I would just become so ebullient and optimistic when I met someone new— only wanting to see the good things (like the points of compatibility) rather than any potential problems. In this way, I painted pictures in my head about only the best-case scenarios, rather than thinking in terms of anything that even slightly resembled reality. Additionally, if early on things were not going great, I would crack on, as they say, and try to problem solve (because relationships take work, right?) instead of considering that the relationship was perhaps just not right.
I don’t do any of this anymore. I am a happier now than I was those years ago. Today, I have more professional success, a healthier lifestyle, a better understanding of my wants in life, and hope for, rather than fear of, my future. Frankly, I also have a lot more self-confidence (which for sure changes one’s perspective on life!). With all these changes comes an important shift in my mindset when it comes to dating, which can be summed up with this trite phrase — phew, I dodged a bullet.
If I get excited about texting someone and they do not text back, instead of becoming sad or anxious, I think to myself —phew, I dodged a bullet. I am washing my hands of this! At the end of the day, people show you who they are and how they are feeling. Having more life and relationship experience, red flags now look flaming SCARLET. Now, that I understand the realities of relationships, I do not harbor fantasies about them anymore. I’m just not going to jump into them like I wanted to years ago. When it’s evident to me that I’m not clicking with someone, I’m very happy (rather than reluctant) to move on. I can be a happy person on my own and I can be happy in a healthy relationship, but I cannot be happy when I am with someone who just isn’t right for me.
Time is precious. I will never again be the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed college graduate who, despite having the world and an abundance of opportunities at her fingertips, was overly concerned with not being coupled. I’m not about to say that “youth is wasted on the young,” but, man, young me’s priorities were a little…1950’s, to be honest. Gosh, I think I just felt like an ounce of shame… that was weird.
Dating is just one of the things that I do now, however, I’m very fortunate that I have so much fulfillment in other parts of my life. If I don’t click with someone, then that’s that! Phew, I dodged a bullet!
I very much value my independence. In my last relationship, I felt lucky to be able to retain my sense of self and autonomy in addition to enjoying a nice companionship. Such a balance between people is delicate, beautiful, and should not be taken for granted. Similarly, such compatibility also cannot be forced, yet in the swells of attraction accompanied by the prospect of something new, it can be so easy to dismiss the little things, because after all, they are just little, right? For me, I’m no longer so convinced, as I can now (ex post facto), point to the key “little” things that became the big points of contention later on in my past relationships.
Experience makes us wiser and I’m glad that 22-year-old me has matured accordingly. I’m no longer blinded by excitement, and I am no longer giddy to be coupled. I would, for sure, like to be in another happy, healthy relationship, but I also recognize that I do not have the power to will one into existence. I’m not like a “chill person,” but really, for the first time, when it comes to relationships, I do truly feel that it will happen when it happens **shrug**; and if something doesn’t feel right, you can bet I’m going to dodge that bullet!
Wishing you happiness and fulfillment in all parts of your life, dear Reader 🙂