Friday, September 12, 2008

My life as a practical dater

Warning: serious generalizations ahead.

I have this theory that women in their twenties need to be abused by men. Twenty-something women tend to go for the hot, talented, athletic or charming guys who are used to having things - especially women - fall into their laps. These guys aren't accustomed to putting very much thought or effort into their relationships, because they've never had to. So, twenty-something women get ignored, cheated on, cast aside and blatantly used...and then come back for more. These guys aren't jerks (well, some of them are), they're just coming into their own, which means testing their limits in all areas of life, and experiencing success and failure.

As twenty-somethings, we make it easy for guys: we sleep with them immediately; we call and text before they even have a chance to miss us; we walk, drive or fly to see them; we give them second, third and fourth chances to hurt us; and we lie about how we really feel in an attempt to appear like the cool, independent woman we wish we were. Essentially, we focus on making our guy happy - hoping that we will earn his love - and we don't expect a lot in return.

At some point, things seem to shift. Maybe we figure out who we are, or start to recognize what we need to be happy, but we stop seeking out Mr. Popular, and start noticing guys who notice and appreciate us. I've watched a number of my friends experience this shift, and I've noticed that it's followed closely by finding their future life partner. Call it my theory on the process of romantic maturity.

Although I've definitely suffered my share of twenty-something-like abuse, my romantic history hasn't been as text-book as some of my friends. After a handful of earth-shattering experiences in my teens and early twenties, I realized that dating Mr. Popular caused nothing but heartache, so I shifted my radar and focused on finding Sweet Little Geeks (SLGs). Figuring that these guys were more likely to adore and appreciate me (and secretly - but probably obviously - trying to protect my heart), I thought I'd out-smarted the natural course of romantic maturity. In some ways, my plan worked. I certainly dated men who adored and appreciated me, but something was always missing. I tried to force myself to have feelings for guys who genuinely liked me, assuming that attraction would come with time.

It never worked.

I'd date a guy for a couple months, waiting for my feelings to develop. Eventually, I would give up, hurting the guy and disappointing myself. For someone relatively self-aware and insightful, I let this pattern go on for WAY too long. By my late twenties, I'd never been with someone I wanted to be with...I'd never fallen in love with someone who loved me back.

Then I met J-Dogg.

He wasn't Mr. Popular, but he definitely wasn't an SLG. Even though he never said it (he wrote it, but never did muster up the words), he showed me what it felt like to be loved by someone I loved in return. He taught me that while attraction isn't always connected to the hottest or most charming guy, it's an essential component of a relationship. He was manly - something SLGs often lack - and I FINALLY realized how appealing the differences between a man and a woman can be. I also learned that while I want and need to be adored by any man I end up with, I also need to be with someone who challenges me and communicates with me.

So here I am again, still in the dating game - with its trauma and hilarity - and I'm finally on my own path to romantic maturity as I learn to balance practicality and chemistry.


Jade said...

Wow. Bravo.

I'm def. not there yet. If you've read my latest post you know what I mean.

Tiffy said...

Great post. I just happened to stumble over here from Jade's Darling life and your blog is great. I'm adding it to my reader asap. :)

Anonymous said...

I love the warning at the beginning. I will have to remember to be as aware when I write :)