Well Spice Girls – I wish it was that easy! What do I want? What do the boys that I’m dating want? These are the questions that have been roaming through my dating mind and to be honest I’m not sure if I have an answer to any of them, and lately I’m wondering if I really need to. Where I’m at with my modern, mid twenties dating I’ve been wondering: how much do we really need to know what we’re looking for when we start dating someone?
Let me take you back to when I did know what I wanted. A boyfriend. That’s why I was on the apps, that’s why I was frantically swiping and that’s why I was agreeing to all of these first dates weekend after weekend. I just knew that one of these guys could be my boyfriend and that’s exactly what I really wanted. So off I went. Each date felt like a checklist. Cute, check, Job, check, Apartment downtown, check, (I’m shallow I know) and so on and so forth. After each date, there I went, thinking that I had just met the boy who was going to be my boyfriend, and live happily ever after with me *cue wedding bells. I was so certain after each date that I had found ~the one~ But clearly (still single) my intuition wasn’t totally accurate.
Here’s exactly where I started to get confused – after 2 or maybe 3 dates, things would fizzle. We’d stop messaging, they’d be “really busy with work” or they’d just tell me that we weren’t a good fit. Quickly, after each guy, I could see it: yeah he was boring, the conversation didn’t really flow, we didn’t have much in common, maybe his suggestion of movie night at his place really did mean that he just wanted to hook up with me. All of these things had come into my mind during the date, but I was so quick to push them aside, because maybe it wasn’t really a big deal. Think of all their other great qualities, I would tell myself and smile through the awkwardness that was the date. What’s worse is thinking back, had things not fizzled out (often by them) I would have still been keen and wanted to date them. Why? They were nice, they checked my list and I could tolerate my time with them. Then it hit me. Because I was looking for a boyfriend, I would date anyone who wanted to date me. I didn’t think about our chemistry, or if I was even remotely into them, but rather I checked off a list – what would my family think, would they get along with my friends, would be photograph well together etc. (you can see how this went). I was so into finding a boyfriend, that I forgot to use the date to get to know them and see anything other than a boyfriend figure sitting across from me, who realistically could have been anyone.
Fast forward to me deciding I needed to regroup. Maybe knowing exactly what I was looking for was detrimental to my dating, and my chance at finding ~the one~. Maybe I needed to be more go with the flow, and take the time to get to know someone and just see where it goes. Leaving my Type A planner personality behind, I decided to step wayyy outside my comfort zone and try it. I went into dating again much more open minded. There I went on dates, trying really hard to be much more selective and really focus on the PERSON in front of me, not just the idea. Now I felt more confident, because I was going on dates no longer to look for a boyfriend. After one long date of a guy who only talked about himself, or a boy with whom I ran away from so he couldn’t kiss me, I became much more selective in the people I would see, and it seemed to be working well.
Next, I met Mr. Hm. Mr. Hm and I hit it off on our first date. And I know I say that about practically every date I go on, but he wasn’t just “really nice and cute”, but it felt like we had more in common, and I even left the date with those butterflies fluttering in my stomach (something I’m cluing in is an indicative sign to someone being more than just a friend). After the 4 hour long date, I texted him thanks, we chatted and we went on with our weekends. I hadn’t heard from him but knew I wanted to see him again. So like a modern, strong woman I texted him first again, and waited for him to ask me out. I didn’t think much of it, because when we spoke he seemed interested so I rolled with it. We had continued to see each other, and go on all of the dates exploring basically all of the Christmas and winter fun we could find. I was so into him, but tried to balance it by being chill – I mean, I was no longer dating for a boyfriend.
My chill attitude steered me away from anything that would make me seem “unchill” even though these things bothered me. Our dates were great, and he was kind and respectful and our chemistry together was pretty good ;). However, our dates were often a week apart, and within that week I could go days without talking to him and he could go hours without answering me. Mr. Hm was so hot and cold, I was constantly wondering “does he like me, is he seeing other people, where’s his head at” and though I would ask variations of these questions to him – (though confirming we were exclusive) I never asked him to clarify anything about what he wanted, or where his head was really at. The entire time something about it seemed off, and I never had that same confident feeling of knowing where we stood that I had with other guys that I’ve dated. I wondered what it was – aside from the fact that he didn’t like dogs (which really should have been my biggest red flag to begin with) I couldn’t find the flaw that I was looking for. After two months, I felt constantly confused – when we were together things were great, but during the week I felt as if he wasn’t in my life at all. It was as if we kept taking one step forward, and two steps back. It honestly became exhausting.
After enough of my frustration, with some advice from a friend I messaged him what I wanted to ask, trying to figure out where his head was at. Two and a half months of exclusively seeing each other, I really only thought that there would be one logical response. Trying to convince myself I didn’t want to be a girlfriend and I didn’t care about the title, it became so clear to me that I did want that with him. And I wanted all of the emotional support and responsibility that came with it. I realized I was upset if he didn’t text me after a long day, or would wait to make plans with me – likely only after I initiated it.
After a weekend of talking post message, I was going to see Mr. Hm and was excited about it. At the end of our date where we chatted about real things: our families, our charity work our job prospects, he drove me to my car. As he pulled up to drop me off, what felt like out of nowhere he decided that we should end things. EXCUISE ME. I was shocked, I was confused and all of a sudden I was sad because in that moment I knew that I had wanted something more. Leaving me with a very fair, and a very respectful “It’s really not the right time for me” type schpiel that he wasn’t ready to be a boyfriend again, and he agreed that was very clearly where we were headed. Confused and sad, I said goodbye to Mr. Hm and questioned where things went wrong.
All of a sudden it dawned on me that I had wanted to date him the whole time, and was too scared to say anything. I tried to play it off overly chill, but in reality I did think about what it would be like to be his girlfriend, and I was convinced that it was just a matter of time. I overlooked his signs of being emotionally distant and never called him out on it because I didn’t want him to say something that I didn’t want to hear. All in this, I followed his lead and pretended I was okay with what he was giving me, all because I didn’t want to say I wanted him to be my boyfriend. His mixed signals paired with our complete coupley date-y activities left me longing for an answer I was too scared to ask for.
My overall conclusion is still TBD. I know what I want (I think), but how do I go about the beginning stages of dating not jumping to conclusions or just hoping a guy will make the decision for me. When I wanted a boyfriend, I misread every situation but when I “didn’t want one” I misread everything too, leaving me to question how clear my intentions should be when I start dating. I may be naive, and think every guy really is just super nice – but how will I know which guy is right for me?! As I continue to try dating through the six, I struggle to find what that happy medium is, and how much it affects who I date and how long I date them. Hopefully one day I’ll figure out what I want, what I really really want and how I can get it!