Sep 28, 2014
My job is a seriously sweet gig. My clients rock. They come in ready to work through their intimacy issues and reconnect in their relationships. I have people who drive in from two hours away to hang out with me, which is a serious level of commitment. They do their homework (to be fair, it’s fun homework). They communicate with their partners. Things gets better.
My friends (you know who you are!), on the other hand, are crazy.
And this article is for them. Dating is supposed to be fun. It really is. OK, It isn’t always fun, but if you are doing it right it is mostly fun. But try telling my friends that. They act like they are entering a demilitarized zone and are strapping on a flak jacket. I have had enough conversations with my friends that end with the Carrie Fisher line from When Harry Met Sally….you know the one “You’re right, you’re right…I know you’re right” Because I keep saying the same things over and over. And because they know I’m right.
I’m the tough love friend who issues the smack down you know you need to hear no matter how much you don’t want to. If I could bring you a mug of hot chocolate and a box of tissues while you read this, I would totally do that, too. Because tough love aside, I am so very sorry. You ARE amazing and that dumbass really IS missing out. You DO deserve better. I believe that with every fiber of my being, which is why I am going to call some stuff out.
1) It’s called dating, not boyfriending, for a reason. Or girlfriending. Or otherfriending. Or even just relationshiping. Your mileage may vary. But the point is, stop marrying yourself off on the first date or worrying about all kinds of long term crap. It’s an audition, it’s not opening night. If its coffee, go have coffee. Let it just be coffee. If it is never anything more than coffee….you didn’t lose out on anything, right? You got exactly what you set out to achieve.
2) It shouldn’t be that complicated. If you are spending more time dissecting the relationship rather than being in it, it isn’t working. I can judge the shelf-life of a new relationship by how much I hear about it. If it is going well, you are out living it….not trying to convince yourself (and your long-suffering therapist friend) that everything is great. Or would be if this fabulous new person would JUST TEXT YOU BACK ABOUT YOUR DINNER PLANS.
3) A rejection of you isn’t about YOU. OK, let me caveat that a bit. If no relationship lasts pasts the third date then you might want to reconsider what is happening at that point. Patterns are important. But a relationship failing to take off do not automatically mean you are a failure. Refer to Rule #1. If you are dating someone and exploring the option of being something longer-term and more permanent and things just fade away? They do that. They met someone else they likes better, the ex called and wants them back, the best friend is in town and they are out working the clubs. Whatever. Here’s the thing: This person did not know you nearly well enough for you to take this as a personal rejection of your excellent qualities as a human being. They barely knew you at all. Maybe they didn’t like your choice of hole-in-the-wall Pakistani restaurants. Or the fact that your phone screensaver is a picture of your elderly cat. Or that you forgot to vote in the last election. In the end, they decided that they were not invested enough to find out what all your excellent qualities as a human being are. But because they didn’t ever do so, you have to stop taking the rejection so damn personally. Seriously. If someone you have known for many years stops talking to you, something is wrong. Someone you’ve been seeing for a few weeks? Time to let it go.
4) Grown-ass people get to make their own choices. No matter how stupid they are. No matter how much better the world would run if you were in charge of it (and clearly true, as people are passing up the opportunity to learn about all the excellent qualities you possess as a human being). People get to do whatever they want. They are also responsible for the consequences of their actions. Player gotta play? Their choice. You aren’t down with that? Don’t excuse it. You can ask for things to be different, but it may not happen. You can’t force your will on someone else, but you can choose how it impacts your life. If it is a deal breaker, break the deal. Move on. You are included on the list of grown-ass people who get to make their own choices. That’s the cool part.
5) You are allowed to BE crazy, you are not allowed to ACT crazy. Whatever is going on in your head? That chatter? The icky, grody feelings? You are totally allowed to have them. Thoughts and feelings are just thoughts and feelings. They aren’t right or wrong. They just are. Isn’t that zen? But the hard part is controlling what you do with them. You could think “But we would be so great together!” And that may be the rightest thing in the history of ever. But refer back to Rule 3. It doesn’t matter…they have moved on, and it doesn’t have nearly as much to do with you as you think it does. But driving by their house at 3AM? Sending desperate text messages of the “But whyyyyyy? I need to knooooooow” variety. STOP THAT. I don’t care how much you want to do it, if you know it’s crazy and you know you will regret it later, then DO NOT DO THE THING. Go for a walk, watch crap on Netflix, listen to “Everybody Hurts” by REM and sob on the kitchen floor, call a friend and request an intervention. BUT DO NOT ACT CRAZY. That person who didn’t even know you well enough to know what they are rejecting? Not worth all that time and aggravation. Be pissed, be sad, but remember Rule 4. You are a grown ass person who is responsible for the consequences of your actions. Don’t embarrass yourself.
Ok, now for the good stuff. That whole you are amazing and deserve better part? I meant that. You are going to reclaim your life now. You are in charge of this. Dating is going to be just that. You are gonna try some new people on for size, and realize that like bathing suit shopping, most things are going to fit horribly. But you will meet some interesting people. And this learning the hard way thing? Helps you figure out exactly what you do want.
If you aren’t wasting your time trying to convince yourself that you are happy, you will find the person with whom you are actually just happy.