Most people think that once they hit sixteen or seventeen, Cupid is just going to shoot an arrow at their chest and boom! Love. But that’s not how it works. It’s actually a lot more complicated and a lot harder than it looks in romantic comedies.
I started dating when I was in middle school. Well, to be honest, I had a boyfriend in 4th grade. His name was Eric. And then he moved to Florida and conveniently forgot to inform me of this. Go figure. But anyways, I’m not going to count that.
And I’m going off topic. This post is not about my dating history, though there are some pretty entertaining stories about relationships I’ve had. Maybe next time. This post is about dating, love, and some common misconceptions of it that I’ve debunked in my 19 years. So here we go!
1) Love at first sight is not a thing. You can be attracted to someone at first sight and you can be interested at first sight. But love doesn’t happen instantaneously. Love at first sight doesn’t exist, as hard as that is to hear. Lust at first sight does not equal love.
2) Things don’t magically fall into place. There’s not some sort of change that happens after you turn sixteen that makes all the boys you know start asking you on dates. Sixteen is just a number. Yeah, sometimes you get lucky and a guy will ask you out and things will go great. But that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, you just have to be really really patient.
3) One date does not equal a relationship. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of this. Most of my relationships started before an actual date was had. But that’s not how it should be. Dating is about finding out what you want in the person you’ll have a future with. It is about getting to know one another before slapping a label on it and calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.
4) It’s okay to text the guy first or ask him out. My mom always told me that it was the guy’s job to make the first move. And, yeah, that’s chivalrous and everything…but guys can get shy too. Guys aren’t perfect and sometimes they’re going to get nervous and over analyze and convince themselves that you’re just not that into them, even though you totally are. And texting someone first all the time gets boring and kills your self-esteem.
5) On the same lines, don’t always make him pay. I mean, it’s great that they can support you and take you out to dinner, but I guarantee you that it’ll make him smile if you pay for a milkshake every once in a while. One of my favorite traditions with Brendan was going to Sheetz and buying a thing of fries and a smoothie for us to split. That was always my thing to pay for. And I loved it.
6) Dates don’t have to cost a huge amount of money. Go on a scavenger hunt. Have a picnic in the park. Go for a walk and take pictures. Find a movie on netflix and cuddle. Paint twister. Drive until you find something to explore. There are so many things that you can have a blast doing without spending a ton of cash.
7) Don’t take the other person for granted. Dating shouldn’t just be fun in the beginning. It doesn’t matter how long you date someone for, you should always be excited to find out something new about them. Don’t stop asking them their favorite color or song or movie because people change all the time. Part of being in a relationship is constantly getting to know the other person. One of my very favorite things to do when I’m starting to really like someone is play the question game. It’s a great way to learn about each other without the pressure.
8) Love isn’t perfect. And neither are relationships. You might meet someone who you think is perfect for you. And sometimes, it turns out that they aren’t. That is a really painful process, but you have to let go. It’s okay to say goodbye to people who don’t make you happy anymore. It’s okay to stop having feelings for someone. It doesn’t make you a bad person. We’re human and humans make mistakes and change their minds.
9) Fighting in relationships is healthy. I’m not talking about fighting over every little thing and screaming down each other’s throats. I’m talking about actually talking about your problems. If you want a real relationship, you have to deal with real problems. And they won’t just go away if you avoid them. Nothing kills relationships faster than problems that you didn’t know were there. You aren’t going to agree on everything. People aren’t the same. Eventually, your opinions or desires will clash and you’ll have to deal with that.
10) It’s not all about personality. You can’t have a healthy relationship if you aren’t physically attracted to the person you’re dating. The fact is, you don’t notice someone’s personality first most of the time. Your first impression is almost always physical. You like their smile or think they have pretty eyes or think they have achieved male model status. Physical attractiveness might not be the most important thing in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. I’m going to be perfectly honest here and embarrass myself (and probably Brendan). The first thing I noticed about him was his abs. The second thing I noticed was his sweet spirit. So, yes, physical attributes do make a difference. Just don’t base a relationship on the fact that someone is handsome or pretty.
11) Don’t be so picky. First impressions aren’t always right and your mom isn’t always wrong when she tells you to give someone the benefit of the doubt. Again, we’re human and humans make mistakes. You might meet someone and base your impression of them on a day where they just got horrible news or had a bad experience. If you go into dating expecting to find perfection, you’re going to be disappointed. Yes, you can find the perfect person for you. But they aren’t always perfect when you first meet them. And sometimes the person you are meant to be with is right in front of you and you just never realized it because you already labeled them as something else.
12) Stop stressing over every little thing. Dating is supposed to be fun. Healthy relationships aren’t about finding things to worry about. You shouldn’t look for something to fight over. You marry who you date and you should want to marry someone that makes you happy. Stop letting your fear control you and just feel what you feel. There will be problems; every relationship has them. But don’t let them destroy something beautiful. Don’t make up problems because you get scared. It’s okay to be scared and it’s okay to want something to work out with everything you have. But if you overthink and over analyze, you’ll end up destroying it before it even has a chance to turn into something real.