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Despite my carefully curated Twitter persona of sarcasm with a splash of bitchiness, I am actually an eternally optimistic person. I tend to want to believe the best in people, that it will all work out in the end, and that everything happens for a reason. I am a goddamn Pollyanna, and I’m proud of it.
As such, I tend to have a rather sunshine-and-rainbows approach to dating. For a long time, I’ve considered this to be a rather sane alternative to the doom-and-gloom outlook of many of my friends. Instead of freaking out when a guy doesn’t text me back and spiraling down the dark hole of questioning my own lovability, I try and go “he’ll text eventually,” (and if he doesn’t, fuck him) and move on with my day. Please note I said try, because I’ve certainly visited the bottom of that dark hole more than once in my time — I may be optimistic, but I’m not a feelingless robot.
Because of this rose-colored-glasses view of the world, I tend of fall into a trap when it comes to relationships. One that, I’m discovering, many of my lady friends (and even some of my dude friends) are also felled by. This entrapment? The belief that when someone tells us that they aren’t looking for something serious, we can change their mind.
Let’s read that again: We believe that when someone tells us that they aren’t looking for something serious, we can change their mind. We spend years looking for someone that we can be in an honest relationship with, and yet we literally want to believe that one of the first things our current potential mate tells us is a lie. How fucked up is that?
Why do we do this to ourselves, fellow romantics? Well, partially, it’s because it’s hard to believe that when we reach a point in our lives that we are finally looking for something serious, fate would screw with us by introducing us to someone we actually like enough to want to spend time with, both naked and clothed, who isn’t looking for the same things. But fate is a fickle bitch, my friends, and yes, she’s fucking with you (yes, fate is a woman).
But honestly, I feel like we engage in this vain attempt at mind-changing because of a simple four-letter word: hope. As optimists, we’re eternally hopeful, so it would stand to reason that, of course, if someone likes us enough, they’ll want to be in a relationship with us. I mean, duh — that’s how it works. But the fact of the matter is, there is such a thing as meeting the right person at the wrong time. There is such a thing as not being ready for a relationship. And all of the optimism, hope, and really good sex isn’t going to change it. Trust me on this one. I’ve been there, done that, and have the t-shirt — but I don’t have the boyfriend.
So, let me save you some heartache by sharing a simple piece of advice that I’ve learned from wallowing in my seemingly bottomless pit of relationship optimism: If someone you’re interested in tells you that they aren’t looking for something serious, believe them.
Believe that the stories you’ve heard of relationships beginning with this very sentence and ending in a wedding are the exception to the rule, not the norm.
Believe that they aren’t playing a game or have some trust issues that you’re going to be the magic resolution to.
Believe that they legitimately just want to hang out and occasionally fuck and that any relationship-esque things that happen during the course of either the hanging or fucking are purely accidental.
Believe that when someone says this to you, they mean it. And also respect the fact that they were upfront and honest with you about it from the beginning.
But at the same time, keep being hopeful and optimistic — not about this particular relationship, because odds are about 10 to 1 that it’s not going to work out — but about dating. It’s hard enough out there, and the only way to come through it without a hardened, black heart is to keep the faith..