Maybe it’s all the Halloween decor around, but this week I was reflecting on the horrors – or shall I say issues – that can happen once you have met someone, and somehow you start talking, and now you’re dating… or maybe you’re just “hanging out” (see Situation #1 below). These are not one time occurrences. The following have happened enough times to me and to people I know that I feel I can call them out and ask us all to learn and do better.
Situation #1: How do you know if you’re dating or not? aka: If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, is it a duck? I have had guys come and pick me up, pay for meals, compliment me, call and talk to me so late that we fall asleep on the phone, and then deny we are dating. I’ve had other guys tell me it’s obvious we’re dating when I didn’t think so. I’ve then had people roll their eyes at me when I say I am a firm believer in DTR’s (Define The Relationship conversations for those who have never had the privilege, or agony, of having one). Sorry but without DTR’s it seems you are at the mercy of someone else’s interpretations. No?
As a female, in the name of not getting burned, and allowing men to be men (i.e. pursue), is the best policy to believe that unless a man specifically tells/asks you to be more than a hang out buddy, that’s all you are? It can be frustrating, but also safe. Thoughts?
Situation #2: You have a girlfriend?! aka: Mixed messages in the modern era. This one is when you meet a guy and/or have been talking to him and seeing him for a few weeks (or months), and then, out of the blue, he introduces you to his girlfriend. Ummm your who?! It’s amazing how some men don’t feel the need to bring this up, and how shocked they are when you act shocked that they didn’t.
A related issue I’ve noticed is that a lot of men who are in relationships will say things to single females that are nice but unnecessary at best, and ambiguous flirtation at worst. Examples:
- “I really like your hair” – I’m thinking, ‘Tell your girlfriend you like her hair’
- “I miss talking to you” – I’m thinking, ‘Talk to your wife‘
- “Being around you helps me focus” – I’m thinking, ‘Focus on something else, not me’
Now, I’m not saying people can’t compliment each other, or that males and females can’t be friends, and for the record, I don’t think the men who made the above comments were being shady, just clueless. What I’m saying is if you have a significant other, you have the responsibility to bring them up somehow within the first conversation with a new person, especially if that new person is single. Thereafter, it’s nice to be friends and all, but spend time complimenting your spouse/girlfriend, not others.
Situation #3: “I don’t date__________.” This is when someone you may be interested in tells you they aren’t interest in you because you have (or don’t have) a characteristic they believe they don’t (or do) want. It could be body type, ethnicity, education, hobbies, etc. For me this has most often come in the forms of: “You’re pretty but, I never saw myself with a black girl” and “I think you are too smart for me.” Ummm…thanks?
Certainly I am not mad at people for having preferences or a “type,” but rather than being unwilling to look outside of it, isn’t it better to be open to different people who may be a good fit? Don’t we all know people who ended up married to the type they “never imagined”? (And people divorced from ones they thought were “perfect” for them?)
Situation #4: Ghosting aka: Why are so many so afraid to have honest conversations? This comes in different forms. From guys who say they’ll call and don’t, to the ones who plan specific dates and then don’t confirm, to when you’re at the meeting spot and he’s not, so you call, and he doesn’t answer his phone. I get it. Not everyone is a great fit, and not all romantic relationships should continue, but part of being an adult is being able to look someone in the eye and have a conversation. Meaning, it is the epitome of emotional immaturity to “ghost” someone. And the excuse “I don’t want to hurt them” is an unacceptable lie. What you really don’t want is to make yourself feel awkward or badly for ending things. It’s ok. Just say it. No one is going to be mad at you for being honest. “What if they cry?” Crying is a normal response when one is feeling a strong emotion. It happens. It’s honest. It’s ok. “What if they freak out on me?” Then that’s further confirmation for you that the two of you were not a good fit. “Can I do it by text?” That’s better than ghosting but still kind of a weeny move. Ghosting is childish and leads to more heartache, confusion, and emotionality than just being honest. So be honest – in person.
Situation #5: Battle of the exes. This is when, after a few weeks or a few years, you learn the person you’ve been dating isn’t over their ex. The worst experience I’ve had with this was when my college boyfriend disappeared on my birthday – the very very long text message (weeny move) I got that night said his ex had called and since they didn’t have a “bad breakup”, he wanted to see if things could work with her. More recently, I met a guy in a mutual group of friends who showed a ton of interest. We had great conversation all night and at the end he walked me to my car and asked for my number. Then nothing. Turns out his ex had dumped him the night before he met me, apologized the night after he met me, and he was back with her. I wish them the best, but I didn’t need to be an emotional placeholder/rebound (even if it was for one night).
Summary: As adults I think we should know ourselves well enough to not jump into new relationships if we’re not over old ones, to be clear if we still want old ones, and to abstain from dating/flirting if you don’t want one. Going into, in, and coming out of relationships, we should all be honest and clearly communicate our thoughts, goals, feelings, and intentions – even if it’s difficult or awkward. I think that would make the (dating) world a better place.