I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Real-Life Dating
I'll be the first (and definitely not the last) to say: I have no idea what I'm doing in regards to post-grad dating. None! SOS! Help!
The past year of my life, I have had little to no desire to be in a romantic relationship. I entered into my senior year of college single...the first time in 4 years I'd gone into a school year single. Yikes. The realization that I had been in a few serious relationships in such a short period of time and the fact that I had just gone through a really tough breakup led me to a year focused on personal growth and friendship. I needed to discover who I was outside of a relationship considering the longest amount of time I had been single was less than six month at a time. Plus, I wanted to really spend my last year of college with my friends, who were my second family.
So, senior year, I spent my time with my friends and really learning what exactly I was passionate about. Sure, I went on a whopping two dates (which reminds, if you're in Nashville, please eat at Adele's for me) and always had someone to take to my sorority date parties, but nothing serious.
When I graduated, my feelings didn't change much. I was home for the first few months of summer, and I had no intention of dating anyone from high school...nor dating anyone with my parents in such close proximity. When I finally moved to San Diego, I knew I wanted to settle in first. I wanted to focus on learning and growing in my first job, establishing quality friendships, and really getting to know my new home base. Plus, the whole concept of dating required another party who was interested in me...I guess this solely wasn't dictated by me. Which brings me to my first question: when you spend so much time at work, how do you even meet people of interest that you don't work with?! I don't want to shit where I eat, for lack of better terms.
Somehow, I met a few people - mutual friends, both just moved here, organizations I joined (which I suppose answers my first question)- and decided to open up to the idea of dating. After a pep talk from a co-worker, I realized it could help me meet people and network even if I didn't end up interested and what would kill me from a free meal? Don't judge.
After saying yes and finally making up my mind that I was going to date, I quickly realized I had absolutely no idea how to date! None!
Up until now, I never did the traditional dating thing. (Is there even a traditional way to date?!) In college, I spent my time involved in two serious relationships or in Vanderbilt's deeply-vested hookup culture (sorry, Mom). My last relationship was with the guy that had been my best friend for years growing up. There was never an issue of what we could or couldn't talk about - we already knew so much about each other. We went on dates, but it just felt like romantically-tinged hangouts too (I promise this was more appealing than I make it sound). My relationship before that had budded out of a friendship too - albeit a much shorter one. When I wasn't in either of these relationships, I took part in Vandy's hookup culture - meeting guys at bars/parties, flirting, exchanging a kiss, and usually never talking again. Nothing serious with no deep connection. So, dating - or a middle ground - was never a reality for me, to say the least.
As I approached a first date, I freaked out and became incredibly nervous, literally thinking: I have no idea what I'm doing right now.
What did you even do on a first date? What do you talk about? Is it all small talk or do you open up quickly? And how quickly at that - first date, third date, months later? Do you date multiple people at once - is that kosher? When do you transition from dating to a relationship? What even is the difference between seeing someone, dating someone, being in a relationship with someone? If you hate the person, do you just stop talking? What's a normal length of time between each date? Do you talk between dates -- on the phone, texting, FaceTiming? What do you wear on a date? Who asks who on the next date? When do you go from dinner/movie dates to fun dates like hiking, camping, Disneyland?! HELP.
If you have all these secrets figured out, let me know. If you don't and wonder the same stupid things, glad we are in the same boat.
In good news, I decided to go on the date I mentioned with a really nice, cool guy and it went well (whew). This gave me confidence and led to another date - full of hanging out at the beach and making dinner together. It was fun and low-pressure and maybe (just maybe) I can function in the dating world. If not, you live and you learn right? Regardless, I was happy I put myself out there.
The moral of the story is: you're not alone. Just go on a date. Try it! You never know. And if you want to freak out beforehand, come to me.
PS-Read Aziz Ansari's "Modern Romance," which helped inspire some confidence and also gave me some comfort knowing others feel this way. I highly recommend the audiobook because Aziz narrates it.
PPS: Writing about my dating life makes me feel like Carrie Bradshaw and I like it.