A few months ago, I went out with a guy I met on Bumble. He was taller than I expected, had a nice smile, and was every bit as funny and charismatic as he seemed via text. The date went well, and we agreed we should see each other again. About a week later I hadn’t heard anything, so I reached out. We ended up going out again and having a great time, but again, I heard nothing from him after that. I gave it one more try, we small-talked over text for a bit, and it was done. Despite the great chemistry I thought I had observed, it was clear he wasn’t into me so I let it go.
In college, I would have let this type of situation drive me into a hurricane of frustration. “How can he not like me? We have so much fun together! I’m hot! We both hate Calvin Harris! I smoked weed for him!” It was always a shallow, egocentric thought process. I wouldn’t take a moment to see things from his point of view, because in my mind, he didn’t get one. He wasn’t a person with thoughts, feelings, emotions, or goals; he was a guy. A prize awarded to me for being attractive, or funny, or impressive to his friends, or good at sex. He was personal validation. And if I didn’t get him to do what I wanted, it registered as a personal failure. I would rack my brain trying to figure out where I went wrong, or what I could have done to make him see things my way. And, because there was nothing I wanted more than something I was told I couldn’t have, I would fight for it.
Of course, ambition for the unattainable is a positive thing in many facets of life. You see a challenge, pursue it, and if you are successful, reap the spoils of your success. It is part of mankind’s natural inclination to compete. It gives you an edge in your career, your education, and your fitness, just to name a few. Not only is it immensely satisfying to conquer a challenge, but it helps you grow as a person.
In terms of dating, however, this mindset is largely ego-motivated, and dating is one of the few facets of life in which ego must take a backseat. To truly get to know someone is to resist the urge to simply convince them to like you. It challenges you to actually listen to what they are saying instead of pretending to listen while planning what to say next. And it trains you to pick up on nonverbal signs that indicate – for reasons inside or outside the scope of your control – they just might not be into you.
For most of us, the college dating pool was a fishbowl. Even at bigger schools, our campus affiliations made it almost impossible not to run into people we have been involved with at some point. It’s easy to get hung up on someone when they are constantly being dangled in front of your nose, and it’s easy to take things personally when things don’t go your way despite the fact that you did everything you could. However, post-college life opens your eyes to the radical idea that the world doesn’t revolve around you. Your first job search brings to light the audacity of companies whose hiring decisions put their own best interests before yours- your boss only cares about your personal development if it will help you fetch his Starbucks faster, and courting a romantic interest takes more than simply showing up to the same party. It requires equal honest effort from both sides. If one side is consistently putting out more effort, it won’t be long before it stops altogether.
Personally, I’ve observed that those who adopt a “cut the shit” approach to dating are generally happier, regardless of their relationship status. At our age, we really don’t have the time or energy to devote to being strung along anymore. If someone likes you, they like you. If they don’t, they don’t. You don’t get to appeal their decision, because if the ball is in their court, it is ultimately their decision. If you look at it this way, dating has actually become a lot more black and white. Mind games, mystery, and playing hard-to-get simply aren’t as effective anymore. If the person is still into you after a date, they will let you know. If not, at least you got a fun night and some free beer out of it. .
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