dating (v): A term used for an extremely exhausting experience

I’ve always loved the idea of being a Carrie Bradshaw in my group of friends. (Even though I’m definitely a Charlotte, let’s be real). I remember watching one of the earlier episodes of the show and remembering what Carrie said about her writing– that she wanted to write about what the city would be like if women dated like men did. If they could be senseless, how would dating change? Since I’ve been single, I’ve also found myself wondering this. How would the guys I went on dates with feel if I did to them what they do to girls? If I broke things off unexpectedly and started sleeping with someone new? If I texted them every single day for naked photos even though they said numerous times they didn’t want to? Or if I said they were a  tease for not wanting to go on a second date with me? What if I told them they were naive to think that just because we went on a couple of dates we were together? Not all of these things have happened to me, but hearing stories from some of my girlfriends goes to show that there is a pattern in the dating world, and we are all responsible for letting it continue.

The burning question is… What would they do?! Are women driven by their emotions like men say we are, or are our emotions just accustomed to react to things according to how we have always been treated? Are we programmed to feel things because of a result of how we’ve always been treated? What if the game changed?

The fact that I just referred to dating as a “game” is one of the biggest issues in our society. Being a hopeless romantic stuck in a hookup culture is a special kind of hell. And maybe I’m naive, but I know how it feels to be treated both like a princess and like complete dirt, sometimes even by the same person. So when does it end? The truth is, we live off of the cliches our society feeds us: “Once you stop looking, love will find you,” “One day someone will walk into your life and make you see why it never worked out with anyone else,” and these cliches are the death of us! We are actually taught to believe that love will FIND US, so the universe sends us a date, and when he turns out to be a total inconsistent psychopath, we go back to thinking, “it wasn’t meant to be… my real love will find me when the time is right.

Um? When does the waiting turn into “I can’t take this anymore.” When does the exhaustion that comes from dating turn into settling? Next thing you know, after a cycle of horrific tinder dates and bad encounters at bars, the guy who only calls you when he’s drunk turns into your knight and shining armor, no matter how he treats you, and you love him.

And let me just say, I hate to over-generalize men. I’ve met some truly amazing guys. I’ve met some pretty inconsistent females, too. And I’ve seen how a woman can ruin a man. This goes both ways, so men, if you are settling for a girl who treats YOU like dirt, you deserve better too! Our dating culture in general is what is ruining us as a generation. Relying on technology, tearing each other down, looking for something of substance for one night and then moving on to the next, is it really healthy? And maybe the pattern is more consistent with men than women, and maybe we’ve allowed it to go on too long for them to think it’s okay. And maybe the women who are a certain way towards men have been treated a certain way for so long that they are ready for their payback. Either way, this is not a way to treat others, and we aren’t doing ourselves an emotional favor either.

We should not be afraid to feel things for people.  A phrase I heard recently, “emotionally slutty,” meaning “opening up too much of your heart too soon.” It’s looked down upon and it shouldn’t be! Men are told that they are weak, whipped, and pathetic if they wanna be tied down with a girl, if they feel something strong for a girl, or even if they want to spend time with their girl instead of their friends (not good!) Women are taught they are irrational, crazy, or over-possessive if they are insecure about what their guy is doing, if they are confused on what their guy is feeling, if they are worried that they are being lied to (also, not good!)

It is important to let go of your pride and your ego. No, someone is not always going to fall in love with you just because you were intimate, or went on a few dates, or treat them well every now and then. Having the mindset that you walk on water and someone should feel “honored” to be with you is not the way to go about things. Knowing what you deserve is much different than thinking that you’re too good for everyone. We’re all imperfect and we all have our demons. Someone also isn’t going to fall in love with you if you treat them like they are your side dish, if you are inconsistent, or if you are afraid of your own feelings, no matter what your demons are. Being hurt in the past is no excuse to treat a good person like trash, and having a sexual agenda and something to “get out of your system” is no excuse to use a genuinely good person for your own phsysical pleasure.

There is no single solution to fixing what our dating culture is. But individually, taking that first step to identify how we view relationships and how we treat others is a step in the right direction. And we need to learn to love ourselves and be proud of the choices we make before we attempt to love someone else. Waiting for someone else to make you happy is the best way to be sad. Truthfully, the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you just happen to find someone to love, the you that you love, well, then that’s just fabulous.

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