“When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them”: 2016 in Review
This post originally appeared on Girl's Gotta Eat, Lauren's chronicle of her dating adventures.
Halfway through this shitshow of a year where we elected a racist president, lost countless beloved celebrities, and are preparing to bid adieu to the GREATEST FIRST FAMILY OF ALL TIME, I also personally went through a breakup.
Along that same vein, I also approached a semi-breakdown. I was 27 and unexpectedly single.
THIS. WAS NOT. THE PLAN.
Over the next 3 months I went on 17 first dates (yes I kept a detailed list).
I’d say about a third of the dates lead to a second. And about 3 lead to more than that.
Yes, part of me felt like I needed to sow my wild oats. But more so, I just wanted to see what was out there. I’d been in a relationship for 3 years, and dating again somehow felt like this marvelous, magical new land. The game has changed (whether we like it or not).
Deal me in.
I don’t really care what anybody else thinks about my choice to become a serial dater for a bit – because it’s what was right for ME. I went out with some cool peeps. I met some boring ones. I encountered a couple cuckoos.
But if I’m gonna practice what I preach (to date as many people as possible to decipher just what it is that works for me), I figured now was as good of a time as any to go for it.
Girl’s gotta eat.
And eat I did! At a variety of fine dining establishments (zing).
Here is what I’ve learned:
- You’re allowed to rebound.
- Don’t agree to date someone exclusively if you’re just not ready to do so.
- It’s ok to go out on a ‘school night’/caffeine is your new friend!
- If you start drinking more your tolerance will skyrocket/so will your hangovers.
- Try to disconnect your self-worth from your dating success. I promise – they are not one in the same.
- If you meet someone and you’re just not attracted to them, don’t give them your phone number if they ask for it. It’s not fair to either of you #FalseHope.
- It’s okay to have a lot of fun with someone you don’t see long-term potential with (as long as they know that).
- Don’t feel pressure to wear pants, even if it’s snowing and 7 degrees outside. GGE, honey.
- Keep pre-online first date texting to a minimum.
- Don’t be swayed by a sexy accent.
- Be as direct and honest with people as you possibly can be. It shows the most respect all around.
- If you’re not meeting anyone you connect with, that is NOT A REFLECTION OF YOU. It just means you haven’t met the right person yet.
- Sometimes attention feels really great (ok, ok, it feels great all the time).
- Try not to feel pressure to quickly smooth things over with your ex. Let the dust settle.
- Nobody knows what’s best for you more than YOU do.
- If a first date is going horrifically, you have a right to leave.
- If your date asks the waiter “which is cheaper?”, you have a right to leave.
- If your date talks your ear off for a full hour, asks you nothing about yourself and then asks you to go home with them, you have a right to leave.
- Good kissers are REALLY HARD TO COME BY.
- Be open to someone who might not check off each box on your ‘list’.
- Don’t be afraid to pre-screen a potential online date before going out with them (ie “who did you vote for”, “are you religious”, “what are you looking for”) – isn’t that the point? It can save everyone involved a lot of precious time.
- Trust your gut.
- “When someone tells you who they really are, believe them”. They know themselves much better than you do.
I have a really good friend Emily who’s one of my most influential sounding boards when it comes to matters of the heart. Earlier this year, she shared with me this quote from Maya Angelou.
Emily said that sometimes it can take weeks, months, or even years for us to truly believe someone when they show us who they are. Of course, the challenge then is to believe them the FIRST TIME.
Once I wrapped my mind around this, it changed me to my core.
So many times, we cling to the image of who we so badly want someone to be. There are qualities about them that we love, and there are qualities about them that we don’t. This can be said about our relationships with everyone in our lives – it’s only natural! Nobody’s perfect.
But often times, someone we’re dating will show us something about themselves that we know in our heart of hearts just won’t work for us. And we choose to ignore it.
Why? Because we love their good qualities so much, or we focus on their potential, or we convince ourselves it’s not that big of a deal, or it just feels easier in the moment to brush it under the rug.
Or because we’re terrified of being alone again.
How do we break this detrimental habit?
Honesty with ourselves and with our partner. Self-reflection centered around who we are and what we want. Communication with our partner and our friends about how we feel.
When we begin to acknowledge what our heart truly wants, walking away gets easier and easier.
The biggest fear that’s emerged for ME in 2016 is the fear of wasting time. I can’t believe I’ll be 30 in just a few years. Where did the time go? How do I make the most of the time I’ve got left?
One way is to believe someone when they show you who they are, the first time. Believe the ‘bad’, yes, but also believe the good.
Sometimes it can be hard to put your faith in someone and their seemingly positive qualities when it feels like things are just too good to be true.
You’ve been duped in the past, so what’s different about this time around?
Well, maybe nothing. But one more thing I learned this year is that if you meet enough people, you might just find yourself a really good egg.
It’s deeply exciting to begin to trust in that – when someone shows you their good, you can believe that too.
Trust your gut; trust yourself.
Happy New Year to my smart, sweet readers. In all honesty: I’ll never be able to thank you enough for filling my 2016 with so much GOOD.