I remember a time when meeting someone who was just as damaged was a bit of a relief. Everyone walking…
My phone lit up as the text came through, “There is no way you went on a thousand dates.”
She clearly had just read the article I posted a few days ago.
“Out of all that I wrote, THAT is what you took away from it?”
“I just can’t believe that you went on that many dates.”
I told her that I know it sounded like a grand exaggeration, but that was why I did the numbers and showed my math.
She was in her early 30s. I asked her how long she had been dating and she said since she was 15. I said, “So how many dates do you think you’ve been on in over 15 years?”
“Actual dates?” She said, “Probably no more than I can count on both hands.”
I said, “I’m not talking about a guy picking you up at your place and opening the door for you and buying you dinner and taking you to movies. I’m saying, how many times have you agreed to meet a stranger to get to know each other in a public setting with an expressed romantic interest?”
“Oh, well when you put it that way, I don’t know, probably hundreds. But those don’t really count.”
I said, “Why? The amount of money being spent or the effort expended does not discount the fact that it’s a ‘date’, it simply means that it wasn’t a ‘date’ in the idealistic romantic movie traditional sense. If you met a guy out for coffee and sat and chatted the way you would if there was a white table cloth and a lobster between you then you were on a date.”
I think she felt cheated, but I wanted her to understand that yes, people had put forth effort. Regardless of how she perceived the encounter, taking the risk of meeting a stranger in public knowing that they will be scrutinizing everything from your favorite movies to the shirt you picked out to wear, well yeah, that can be intimidating to terrifying depending upon your level of experience and confidence. And sure, I had gotten anxious plenty of times. Whether it had been on my first online date or my 514th, men are extremely self-conscious when being assaulted with prying questions from attractive women.
“So when did you finally stop dating?”
The answer was obvious, “When I found someone that made me want to stop.”
“Like, when you found the woman that you could see being your wife?”
“Not necessarily,” I said. “It comes down to this: you should never stop exploring your options until someone gives you a good reason not to.”
“You’re saying that I should keep going on hundreds of dates?”
“Well, yes and no.” I said, “There are endless possibilities. Each person will have a hand in steering the direction of your ship. Every date could potentially end in heartbreak or happiness. But some might not end at all. All I’m saying is why would you want to end your exploration of the world at the last gas station in town? There is no reason to put all your proverbial eggs in one basket unless you know that basket has been proven to be strong enough to hold your eggs first?”
I told her that men are not the end all be all of your happiness. You simply grant them access to your shine. Sometimes that works in your favor, most of the time it doesn’t. And after her hundreds of dates, I told her that the odds simply aren’t in her favor. But that goes for all of us. Because we have to try and try again and fail over and over. But instead of allowing that to discourage us, we need to embrace that it’s all part of the adventure. Each person we allow into our lives holds the brief title of “teacher” and we can either sit and sulk in the back of the class carving “fuck school” in our desk or we can pay attention, take notes, and start looking forward to the next period.
“I think the problem with the way you see dating boils down to two issues: the first being that so many people aren’t secure in their value and they continually sell themselves short. I’m not saying that you should expect men to throw themselves at you and if they don’t they aren’t ‘worthy’. But what I am saying is that you should not devalue your character by allowing someone to take advantage of your generosity or continuously make you feel unappreciated. And the second being that so many of us convince ourselves that we are just fine the way we are when that is simply not true. We can all be stronger, smarter, more improved versions of ourselves. And when we stop learning, we stop evolving. We sit stagnant and it’s rare that anything will change in that position. And it’s only a matter of time before stagnancy begins it’s slow descent backward into self-loathing and playing the role of the victim. And let me tell you, there is nothing more unattractive than a bitter person who sells themselves short because ultimately, that tells me that you don’t respect yourself enough to understand your value. And do you think you could possibly be in a long and healthy relationship with someone who doesn’t respect themselves? Well then, why would you expect someone to do that for you?
More dates isn’t necessarily the answer. You could go on thousands of dates but if you don’t understand your value, you aren’t continually working to become the best version of yourself. And if you keep giving time to all the wrong people – well, no amount of dates is going to fix your problem. You need to not just be okay, but fucking fantastic on your own. Because when you radiate confidence, it shines hard. And that is the best way to tip the odds in your favor.