I’ve told several people about this particular write-up and all of them seemed rather excited to read it. Perhaps they’re just glad I’m finally acknowledging how bad my dating life has gotten, maybe they’re patiently waiting to see what I say so they can tear it to shreds and tell me what I’m ACTUALLY doing wrong, or maybe they’re just interested in what a written out critical analysis of a persons approach to dating looks like. Who knows for sure, there are no opportunities for me to backpedal with lame answers like, “there just aren’t any girls I’m interested in! I don’t have time! I’m just to busy lately” since those answers aren’t really true they’re just excuses guys like me use. To justify not going on dates. (Ok the one about no girls I’m interested in can be true, but 9/10 times its not.) This analysis is meant to find real answers about what I’m doing wrong and in order to do so I’ll be reviewing in my current approach to dating and identifying flaws in that approach. I’ll also look at any fears/insecurities related to dating I might have and finish by looking at my inability to close with girls. I have deemed this analysis necessary since I’m clearly doing something wrong here. I average 1 date a year and haven’t been in a relationship since 2011. That’s too long to just be “unlucky” so let’s find some answers. Honestly I’m unlikely to identify the exact solution to all my problems but you gotta start somewhere right?
An appropriate place to start would be to lay out my current philosophy on dating and then proceed with critiquing it. I’m a firm believer that a committed and romantic relationship should form in a very organic manner over time. Two people will meet, they’ll get to know each other and become friends, then one of them should start to think that maybe there could be something more to their friendship and so they casually go on some dates/spend quality time one on one. (you should be friends for at least a couple of months before reaching this stage in my opinion) After a number of dates it’s up to someone (doesn’t matter who) to make their own intentions very clear and initiate the “define the relationship” talk. This talk will typically go in one of three directions, first being that it’s understood that both people share romantic feelings and a relationship is started, perhaps the feelings are not mutual but both parties are mature enough to let it go and they continue to be friends, and lastly the feelings are not shared and at least one party finds it too awkward to be around the other and the friendship deteriorates over time. This process should take somewhere between 3-6 months and can occur simultaneously with more than one person at a time. (Like you can have more than one person your interested in, just don’t actually date 2 people simultaneously) Relationships built on this model have the benefit of a solid foundation in friendship and the added time before things “get serious” allows both parties to safely determine compatibility with the other beforehand. You also get to skip the awkward, “getting to know you better” part of dating as well, nice little added perk eh? Chemistry between two people is well understood and you know it’s a consistent type of reaction rather than a flash in the pan sort of event under this model as well. All in all this guarantees strong and very healthy relationships.
Unfortunately this model can only really work in hypotheticals and theory. We would all like the time to get to know a person well in a pressure free environment where there was little consequence if you decide that relationship isn’t right for you. Sadly life moves far too quickly to effectively make use of this model. When you first meet someone there might be that immediate chemistry, but is it something with long term viability or just a the flash in a pan event I described earlier? There are two ways to figure that out, one is to simply give it some time and figure it out nice and easy. The other would be to launch into an interrogation where you ask so many questions that you’re sure to land yourself a good ole’ fashioned restraining order. You can probably guess which one I recommend. (It’s the restraining order obviously /s)
So when when meeting new people It’s important to understand just how long it’s going to take for you to understand how the chemistry works between the two of you before you initiate any of that romantic stuff, it’s different for everyone. No set amount of time is always correct (waiting three days to call her is not an actual thing.) and figuring out just how long that period of time is something I’m horrendous at. Specifically I always take too long to decide a girl is worth pursuing. So long in fact that those girls I like find themselves boyfriends of their own while I’m to busy thinking about the hypothetical. I could go into specific examples here, but that is more embarrassment than I care to take on today thank you. I will say that in my life it’s occurred something around nine times, at least that’s how many I can think of in five minutes. Why can’t I just make my mind up about a girl though? Is it indecisiveness? I wouldn’t call myself indecisive unless restaurant choices are involved. I’d actually call myself a rather impulsive decision maker normally. What about dating makes me act so indecisively?
Fear. Now before I go on, let’s throw a friendly reminder that I am not throwing myself a pity party here. I am critically analyzing myself in the hopes of correcting bad behaviors and replacing them with smart decisions. Remember that.
So I have divided my fear in dating into three basic areas. Fear of rejection,confrontation and commitment. Obviously getting rejected is an unpleasant experience and that’s why so many people do their best to avoid it. This goes double for me and dating. If you invite some people out to play soccer or watch a movie and they say no there’s a reasonable chance they just didn’t want to do that activity, not that they hate your guts. If someone rejects you for a date though and they’ve then rejected you as a person, at least in a sense. That’s a stinger. Who wants to be told that you aren’t worth another persons time? Perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned with that though, “who cares what other people think just be yourself!” Is something people say all the time, but in dating it’s actually pretty important what the other person thinks of you believe it or not. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be yourself, just remember that people’s perception of who you are will affect their decision to go on a date with you. I always shoot for being the best version of myself. Fear of rejection is still illogical though, failure/rejection is the best learning tool we have available to us and I should be taking better advantage of it. In the words of Pixar director Andrew Stanton, “Hurry up and fail already”
What do I mean when I any I’m afraid of confrontation? I mean that in my heart and don’t want to be the cause of conflict, if conflict is occurring around me I am willing to step in and attempt to resolve it, but I’m going to actively avoid situations where I can incite conflict because I hate he idea of hurting someones feelings, now that might seem strange to people that know my sarcastic and frankly “dickish” sense of humor, but it is true. I prefer to be just around the line and it eats my up whenever I do cross it. How does this relate to dating though? Remember when I said that I take so long to realize I want to date a specific girl that they find boyfriends before I come to that conclusion? Not entirely true, sometimes they’ve just been spending time with a person casually dating and nothing is set in stone yet, but they’re still kind of an item or whatever. In my mind it’s might as well be a done deal. My refusal to incite conflict and create drama causes my mind to just shut down and I just accept that it’s going to be that way and it’s better for everyone of I just drop it. Better me to be lonely than hurt another’s feelings. In relish though I should probably just take a chance and fight (figuratively, it’s 2015 people) for a girl, but loneliness is something I already know and it’s safer than the unknown drama that could potentially occur.
Now I’m left with commitment issues to review. Part of this is that I actually like the independence of being single and the freedom to hang out with whoever I want to on any given evening or day. The other part is the crippling self doubt that I will be never amount to anything worthy of the girls I pursue. (That escalated quickly!) it’s not that I think I’m a perpetual failure and I’ll never amount to anything, but mow like I feel like I’m constantly falling short of what I COULD be. I COULD be great at things, but I’m just ok at them and that’s not enough for me. I feel compelled to reach my maximum potential before I even think about dating at times. Other times when I’m sane for a minute I remember that everyone is working on being better and relationships are part of that growth. Having someone to lean on can accelerate your growth as a person exponentially, but it can also drag another person down with you if you let it, I’m scared the second thing will happen if I ever started dating someone and so I don’t.
Now even with this flawed approach and crippling fears surrounding me, opportunities for romance can still occur, but I’ve recently learned that even when the stars seemingly align themselves for me I choke miserably. It’s actually really embarrassing for me to say that since I’ve always thought I was at least a little bit clutch. I’ve always been able to take tests reasonably well, as a goalie in soccer I actually did really well in shootouts and playoff games, even with writing papers I can’t help but acknowledge that I write my best stuff between one and six AM. I honestly think that I do well under some pressure. Dating is another game entirely for me it seems. You know those moments in romcoms where the guy and the girl look each other in the eyes and then the guy says some so simple but beautiful like, ” you were always the one” or “I’m never leaving again” or something cliche like that. I don’t say those things. Ever. I stare blankly for minute, say something really lame instead of romantic, crack a joke, pretty much anything other than what I aught to do. It’s bad, and I hadn’t even realized how bad it was until I consulted a close friend of mine about it. When I mentioned the problems she actually got visibly angry with how poorly I had handled a chance for romance. The bigger problem about it is I have no idea how to fix it, I know what I should say in these scenarios but I never actually say that. Even in the moment I know in my head what to say, but the words always come out something entirely different. How does one just stop choking? I don’t know for sure, honestly I kinda just hope that as I correct the other issues that this one will simply sort itself out.
Alright, I think that’s enough analysis of myself for one day. Reminder that this is not a pity party, do not feel sorry for me. If you want to offer up advice that of course is more than welcome. Here’s to hoping that by acknowledging the roots of my problems that I can start actually finding true solutions to them. Have a stellar day all.