New Rules of Dating: What I’ve Learned

 

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I’ve been dating for 18+ years. And occasionally it still drives me insane. During one of those moments of insanity, I sat down and channeled my frustration into a set of dating rules. Warning: These are my own rules – born of trial and error and years of experience. I take full responsibility for them. I aspire to live by them and I fail daily.

  1. Be human. Embrace real emotions. Share real emotions. Don’t try and pretend you’re not affected by them. We all are – no matter what age.
  2. Be kind. This is critical. You’re dealing with real human emotions (see #1). Some people confuse being kind with being perceived as kind. True kindness is considering the long term effect of your actions on a human being who has feelings like you.
  3. Be honest. With yourself and with a potential partner. This is just as important as rule #2. Ask yourself: Is it true? Kind? Necessary? Send a clear message in a kind way.
  4. Be deliberate. If you don’t like them enough to deliberately date them, than you probably don’t like them enough. Never use another person to simply satisfy your physical or emotional needs. Or worse, waste time and energy cause you worry you’ll hurt them. This is confusing. And in the end violates rule #2.
  5. Learn how to flirt (and distinguish flirting from rule #2). I don’t pretend to know anything about this. But from what I can tell, it’s critical.
  6. Learn to be comfortable on your own without trampling out the yearning for companionship. If you don’t know how to be alone, you’ll create relationships for the wrong reason.
  7. Notice the insanely powerful human emotions in you without taking immediate action. Notice the desire to text / call / flirt / kiss. Notice and do nothing. Watch it fade. Watch it grow. Practice control. Practice giving in. Practice walking away. Notice what feels right and happy and good.
  8. Be aware of a false sense of connection! Relationships aren’t built through texting or kissing (although these are all awesome in their proper place). Strong connections are created through quality conversation and shared experiences.
  9. Be present. This is hard with so many distractions. It’s worth the effort! Put your phone away and focus on the person next to you – your mom, your sister, your friend, your date. Practice listening and feeling. If you have to pull out your phone, tell the other person what you’re doing and then go back to being present when you’re done. This is basic respect and leads back to rule#2.
  10. Respect agency. You may be sorely tempted to write a crazy love letter, but don’t be surprised when it doesn’t get returned. He or she makes choices. You make choices. Grieve. Then move on.

If you want to read more, you should read the New Rules of Marriage, by Terrence Real. It changed my life.

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o sleep! o gentle sleep!

One of my favorite things in the world is climbing into bed. I can’t think of many more things that thrill me so consistently (although flossing is rising higher on the list).

I remember discussing one day with Catherine and Caleb lying in bed at night. They both mentioned that they will often remember something they want to think about in-depth and mentally save it for that time when they are lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep at night.

I had no idea what they were talking about.

Apparently they aren’t blessed with the talent I have. Most people crave the same ability that gives me grief– my natural ability to sleep. Like many natural tendencies, this is a blessing and a curse that affects me on a daily basis.

Blessing:

  • I never have sleepless nights.
  • I can sleep anywhere, anytime, and (almost) anyplace.
  • I can sleep through many distractions (light, earthquakes, sirens, phone calls, roommates).
  • I rarely have nightmares.
  • I can wake up early.

Curse:

  • I consistently fall asleep in movies and as such, I avoid watching movies post 9 p.m.
  • Pillow talk is rare with roommates since I can fall asleep within 5 seconds of my head hitting the pillow.
  • Late night reading is impossible although every once in a while I attempt it again thinking that perhaps this night is different. Inevitably, I find the book on the floor and the light on when I wake up in the morning.
  • No matter how interesting the conversation I’m having, movie I’m watching, paper I’m writing – I don’t function at full-capacity after 10:00 at night.* As a single young adult, this has serious ramifications on my social life.
  • I can’t stay up late to finish projects. Waking up early demands that I be realistic about my time-management skills (we’ll reserve that subject for another day).

I’m not convinced the pro’s outweigh the con’s but either way, I’m resigned to my fate and am consequentially trying to embrace my hypersomnia.

*Dance parties may be the only exception.