How Ready Are You To Date?

How Ready Are You To Date?
Photo by Marvin Meyer / Unsplash

I’m heading to Paris in a few days with my man. Eek! I’ve never been to Paris before. I’ve never had a man before. My man has never been to Paris before, either. Whew, I’m going to “my man” you to death. Neither of us has baecationed before, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s all I’ve been thinking about this past week. I doubt I’ll be able to sleep the night before we leave. I recreated my personal TikTok account, I’ll be posting bits from our trip. You can follow along here if you want.

It was only six weeks back that, I told you I started dating again. I mentioned that I had a great first date with a guy and that our second date was pending. (Read it here). We had our second date exactly two weeks after our first. I'd always envisioned some type of thoughtful girlfriend proposal that left me in tears. I didn't get it.  

About two days after our second date we were mid-way through a text conversation about how we'd like to handle disagreements in the future when he said, "Lol, you basically are my girlfriend." And I replied, "Yeah, I know. But I'm still expecting you to ask me properly". And we've just been getting on with it.

On the day this lands in your inbox, it will be exactly two months since we first matched online. He's already met some of my family, including my mama. We've upgraded our weekly dates to sleepovers (we still have dates). We're going on our first trip together, and we've been talking about our second trip. Not to mention all the other discussions and plans we've made. It's funny how different dating has been this time around. Usually, at the two-month mark, I'm still trying to get the guy to admit he likes me.

Although we're already a couple, I think he may still ask me to be his girlfriend while we're in Paris. For no reason other than he wants me to have my special "will you be my girlfriend" moment. I guess we'll have to see what happens.

I’ve already made a list of about 20 newsletter topics in my notes app that I plan to write over the next few months. There are things like my dating app strategy, knowing when you're ready to go exclusive, figuring out the type of partner you want, and how to deal with conflict.

There’ll also be newsletters on more specific topics, for example: how we’ve handled conversations around money, children, and our rules for dealing with conflicts. Naturally, there are some things we’d want to keep private. Plus, I'll share my struggles and how I've been coping.

I plan to share as much insight as possible, so it’s easier for you to navigate these situations when they arrive and give you a starting point for figuring out what’s best for you. But before I can take you on this new journey with me, I want to talk about why I felt ready to start dating again after 14 months of focusing on myself.

If you want to read why I stopped dating, read it here.

Reason 1: I trust my gut instinct

April is usually a weird month for me. It’s the month after my birthday, so I’m usually feeling down about getting older and not having accomplished the things I thought I would have by now.

Last April, I matched with this guy on Hinge. Very early on, he showered me with compliments and pretty much said all of the right things. Because I was already feeling a bit low and technically rebounding from a “relationship” that ended two months prior, his compliments and validation were precisely what I needed.

While it felt good to be constantly told I was beautiful and how much he wanted to be with me, I remember thinking this was too good to be true and that something didn’t feel right about him. I didn’t give it much thought before telling myself that I didn’t know how to recognise a good thing and that I was self-sabotaging. I carried on talking to him.

He did a lot of bragging, but I only picked up on this in hindsight. Every time I seemed impressed by something he said, he’d double down on that thing and make it seem even bigger, better or more exciting.

We talked for a week. He disappeared for two weeks, and then he was back again. After about two more weeks of talking and telling me how amazing I was and how much he liked me, he disappeared for another day. Two days later, on a Sunday morning, I woke up to see a video on his What’s app status of him in bed with someone else. She was on camera smiling while he was recording and giving her compliments. The same compliments I’d been given just a few days prior.

My initial gut feeling of something not being right about him was spot on. I know that if something doesn’t feel right, that’s because, on some level, it’s not. If I’m feeling anxious in a relationship - that’s because something isn’t right. Whether it’s to do with my own experiences or with the other person, it's my job to figure it out. I know the difference between self-sabotaging and noticing red flags. Now, if my gut feeling tells me that something isn’t right, at the very least, I know to take caution and ask questions that help me determine whether this person is someone I can trust or if I am actually picking up on red flags.

Reason Two: I validate myself

Hinge guy was good at dishing out compliments, and I ate them right up. When I matched with him, I still relied heavily on external validation to make me feel good. And I was going through a rough time anyway, so I needed someone to make me feel good then. So, I’d hang onto whatever he said, ignoring the fact that we had only known each other a few days, and none of our conversations was deep enough to warrant him feeling the kind of connection he insisted he felt.

Something similar happened to me recently on a dating app. I matched with a guy, and the day after our first conversation, he sent me a message saying that he knows it was early, but he feels like I’m special. He then sent me a poem. Apparently, he wrote it specifically for me. That would’ve made me feel good before. But all I could think was, what the fuck? We'd only had one conversation. We talked about work and our general dating goals in the conversation. None of that stuff was poem-worthy. I’m good at making myself feel good, so I’m less susceptible to falling for anyone’s attempts at love bombing. Plus, my confidence is at the highest level it’s ever been in my life, so there’s that.

Reason Three: I know what type of partner I want to be & felt confident I’d be that type of partner

I want, doesn’t get. I’ve always wanted a relationship, but until recently, I wouldn’t have been a good partner. I’m not a horrible person, but I lacked a lot of the tools required to create a healthy partnership: boundaries, communication and listening skills, self-awareness, the ability to self-soothe, and the list goes on.

I want whoever I’m with to feel like they can exist alongside me without walking on eggshells. I didn’t want to be easily offended or view every negative as a strike against me or some sign that the relationship is in danger. I don’t want every conversation with my partner about something they’re not happy with to result in them having to calm me down because instead of hearing, “I need more time for my hobbies”, I heard, “I don’t like you, and I want to be away from you more often.”

I want to openly communicate issues, which I’ve struggled with in the past, instead of letting things build up to the point where I feel like there’s no return. I want to be able to match all of the things I listed above. And I hope that I, and the relationship as a whole, allow my partner to feel safe.

I want to love selflessly and fully. I don’t want to possess anyone or feel entitled to their love. I want to experience people and enjoy them while I have them. I don’t want the burden of the thought of my partner leaving me for someone else to hinder the growth of the relationship.

I want to be in tune with my needs and help my partner be in tune with their own needs to create a relationship dynamic that works for the two of us, with as little arbitrary interference as possible. I want to allow time and space for our relationship to grow without pressure.

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