It’s a cool, dark and damp February night. Here I sit, after work, in my most unattractive bright pink, flannel, pajama pants and an unflattering sweat shirt with my cup of tea. One thought keeps ringing through my head: alone and single again. It’s a status I am trying to willingly embrace, since after all, I am the one who pressed for it. But now that I have waded through the mess of a break up, the residual emotions dying off- the high of freedom and low of heartbreak finally evened out- I don’t know what to do with myself. Where do I go from here?
That said, I should be content being alone. I have recognized a major issue of mine is that I always seem to be in the midst of some sort of stage of a relationship with men. It seems nearly impossible to not have some sort of guy at the ready. I don’t even (think) I do it on purpose.
I realized this while I was watching the Julia Roberts, book-based, film Eat Pray Love on a coworker’s recommendation. Surprisingly, they were right- I could relate to the main character, a young divorcee trying to find herself, more than I could have imagined. At one point in the film, she says “since I was 15, I’ve either been with a guy or breaking up with a guy. I have not given myself two weeks of a breather to deal with, you know…myself!” I found myself thinking so I’m not the only one…
So, while I know it would probably be most prudent to just be alone, it seems that there is always someone expressing interest, chasing me, or at the very least, trying to sleep with me. I think about saying no. I know I should. But I can’t. I tell myself I’m on a dating hiatus, or temporarily swear off men, and then two glasses of wine later, and I will be acquiescing to a dinner request.
I’m not sure if this is because I simply like the attention or if I worry that every guy is potentially “the one” (not that I really believe in “the one” but that’s another story for another day). Regardless, this part of the movie got me thinking. If I can’t successfully swear off men but I don’t want to be in the throws of any kind of legitimate relationship, perhaps it’s time I tried good old fashioned dating.
I know it seems rather basic and obvious. But I have found my generation (or maybe, it’s just me?) doesn’t date. We have dinner and it turns into a constant flurry of texts and Facebook messages and before you know it, you may not have the official label, but you’re spending all of your time together and it’s implied that you aren’t seeing anyone else.
What happened to dating? You know, pick me up, drop me off, kiss me good night on my front stoop… in the moonlight…with the glimmer of the stars and a lovely breeze…ok I’m getting out of hand, but, I realized I’ve never legitimately dated. The concept of dating is so foreign to me; taking things slow and not immediately trying to picture how your lives would fit together, or even, um, not sleeping together immediately (hate admitting that one). I need to change this.
Equally as foreign, is the idea of using dating to try different personalities against your own. The idea that any guy I go out with isn’t “The One” or at least, potential long term material, is so daunting and seemingly pointless, but perhaps that is the key. Perhaps, it’s best if Prince Charming doesn’t show up right now. I’m not ready for him anyway. I’m still busy figuring out me. I’m too much of an emotional mess and unevolved in my own being to even know what to do if the right “one” were to show up in a pretty bow, on my door step.
So instead, I need to change my thinking. I need to go out with guys-casually– and use dating as an inventory tool to learn about others and myself (god, that sounds harsh and cold). Find out what works and what doesn’t. I also need to use it for fun. The weight of a legitimate relationship is too heavy right now. Not to mention that my heart simply isn’t open to it, even if I wanted to be.
So to keep me on track here is a working list of principles and guidelines I will be attempting to follow:
#1. Don’t Tune Out. Once I pick out a reason or two, (or five), why my date isn’t in the running as a potential soulmate, I find myself tuning out. I smile and nod but in my head I’m working on my grocery list. How am I going to learn anything from dating if I dismiss them just because they aren’t immediately “perfect” for me? Dumb. Get in there girl and use dating to your advantage. Learn from it.
#2. The Vagina Has the Power. Not that I am trying to be rude or crude, but if a guy really wants to see me, they can come to me. They will make it happen. I don’t really need to be dating, so there is no point in chasing anyone, even if they look like Channing Tatum (ok well maybe then…we’ll revisit this if that issue pops up). That said, I also need to command more power as a whole. It’s ok to say no. No to sex, no to meeting family and friends, no to dinner at chain restaurants (which I generally loathe), no to “one” more drink, no to a second date and no to coming over when I just saw you yesterday and really want the night to myself to read in bed and eat ice cream. No is okay.
#3. Be Honest. With myself and them. If this is simply a hook up, call a spade a spade. If this is dating, in the traditional sense, be aware and act accordingly. I find myself dating guys I deep down am not interested in any way, especially physically. I think it’s a residual effect from High School where no one asked me out…like ever. So now I jump at the opportunity of anyone who asks to take me out and before I know it, I am casually sifting through the greens in my salad wondering why I am even here. And even worse, at the end of the night, I find myself making out with them out of obligation, not attraction. Be honest- with some people there just is simply no reason to go out. At the same time, remember they don’t need to be Prince Charming…right now. And the date should also know where you stand. Leave ambiguity out. You aren’t looking for anything serious anytime soon. They should know that.
#4. Slow it down. I am notorious for jumping head first from relationship to relationship. This is called dating. Go slow. It’s okay to go out and only hear from each other once or twice the next week and not multiple times per day. Or even, not at all if neither one of you felt like you hit it off. Also, if I come to a point where I intend to legitimately date someone, I will now employ to 3 date rule before sex.
#5. Watch the alcohol. Alcohol, obviously, loosens you up and leads to hasty decisions. I have found myself, embarrassingly, having an issue (or more of an issue than usual) saying no when I drink, especially to sex. Then I’ll find myself in the morning filled with regret. And the worst part? I can’t even get off when I’ve been drinking. So what’s the point? So now, new rule: two to three drink max when on dates depending on food intake. I have come to a point where I am comfortable with some forms and instances of casual hook ups. But if I am to do that, I want 100% control over my thoughts and decisions with it. And for godsake, I also want to enjoy it!
Hopefully, this list will only grow as I date more and get my feet wet. For now, these are the basics. I need to follow them without exception, because it’s too damn easy to make exceptions (especially with the alcohol). I need to let go of my preconceived notions of dating, love and sex. I need to let things ride and follow my heart and not be concerned with the rest of my life as much as being in the moment and learning who I am today. That’s why as of today, Prince Charming need not apply. The fairy godmother needs to wait. Cinderella isn’t ready for the ball, just yet.