Dating. You know that word that makes some people cringe? You know, that word that makes some people jump at the chance of finding the one? Welcome me, Sam Tyler. A single, hopeless romantic who knows all about that life because I’m living it, but I’m also learning along the way, so hopefully by sharing some of what I’ve been dealing with, I can help you, too. The first thing that became painfully clear is that dating is a battlefield, no matter how old you are. Some may think it gets easier the older you get, but it’s never effortless. And as a young woman in her early 20s, these are five things I wish I knew before I started dating:
- Pay Attention to First Impressions: More often than not, the way a guy presents himself to you when you first meet is who he is. So, if you meet him and he’s an ass, chances are he’s always going to be an ass. That part of him will always be there, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that will go away, because there’s no changing someone. Maya Angelou once said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” If he’s a player, he’s a player. If he’s a liar, he’s a liar. There’s no point in trying to change someone into who you think they can become or who you want them to be. Always remember that.
- Chivalry Is Damn-Near Dead: At least in my generation. I’d like to believe that there are good men out there, but I don’t think that a lot of guys my age were raised with the traditional traits of being a gentleman. Things like opening the car door for a woman, holding the door for her when you go places, giving her your jacket when it’s cold, so on and so forth. And even though parked car conversations are nice, you can plan something a little more elaborate for a date. But ladies, this is on you, too. We must speak up for what we want. You want him to bring flowers at your doorstep? Make sure he knows that. Guys don’t usually go above and beyond in the romance department on their own anymore, so you gotta drop some hints, or just be blunt about it, if it’s something that’s important to you.
- He’ll Pay Attention More When You Pay Attention Less: Crazy right!? This is the game everyone talks about. When you’re all over a guy, he usually takes advantage of you and ignores you. The minute you start acting like you don’t care, he comes crawling back like you just got a fresh weave. It sucks, but that seems to be the world of dating we live in. The world of games. I think men get a kick out of the chase and that’s when things start to switch. There’s something intriguing about wanting something that is just slightly out of your reach, versus something you can just have in .5 seconds. In the early stages, I think it’s OK to play hard to get a little. But once you’re about 3 months in, if you’re still playing games, it’s a wrap. However, if you don’t want to play games at all, being upfront is always respected. Just express what you want from the jump.
- Don’t Compromise Yourself: Boy, I’m only 20, but let me tell you, I have already sacrificed so much of myself for men. I’m still learning that if I’m not healthy and good on my own, I can’t be healthy and good for a man. People always get lonely and complain about being single, but when you are not in a relationship, you must look within yourself and work on yourself. That is your time to be selfish. So instead of crying about it, figure out why you’re placing so much emphasis on being with someone else, when you should feel OK on your own.
- If It Doesn’t Work, It Doesn’t Work: I’m a firm believer that certain love can come back if it’s meant to be. However, I’m also a firm believer that sometimes love alone isn’t enough. Sometimes love alone isn’t enough in failed relationships and sometimes love alone isn’t enough in developing relationships. A lot of times, love is meant to teach you lessons on how to love better than you did before, but that newfound approach to love won’t always be shared with the person you thought it was for. Instead of designated your love for someone who may never come to claim it, focus on learning all that you can from love, so that you may be a better person and a better lover for the one who is meant to share it with you.