By Michele Russo
In today’s world, dating is far less “fluffy” than ever before. Social media, 10-second attention spans and the illusion of endless options have us swiping left on apps like Tinder and Bumble faster than ever. No matter how cruel it may seem, for many of us this is the new normal in terms of the dating process.
When entering unchartered territories as a newly single person, it’s important to prepare yourself for some of the bumps you will face along the way. After years of experiencing the epidemic of dating woes first hand, I’ve gathered some general advice to dating that seems to apply to everyone. If you are frustrated in your love life, consider the following truths in an effort to date smarter.
Actions will always speak louder than words. This will never change. No matter how busy, someone who is truly interested will make every effort to make their feelings known. When someone is really into you, they will find a way to text you, call you and court you, at all costs and against all odds.
Have you ever thought someone you liked was just playing hard to get? Well, maybe that is the case, but more often than not, if you have to question whether a person is interested, chances are they are not interested. We spend way too much time searching for hidden meanings when the answer to our question is right in front of our faces. Taking days to reply to a text, being too busy to meet up and never making the effort to plan a real date are all signs of where you stand. As much as we all hate to admit it, the signs are everywhere. It’s up to us whether we choose to see them or not.
When someone shows you who they are, it is important to take off your rose-colored glasses and see them — really see them. There are few things more annoying than being ignored. If you’re an over-thinker, being ghosted can cause the floodgates of self-doubt to swing open making the most confident person question their every move. Tame your impulsive desire to text him/her obsessively; nothing good will come of it. Rather than foolishly chasing something you never really had, accept the reality and move on. Unfortunately, this is just a part of dating. Some people are the types who need to know why things ended, but with ghosting at an all-time high, we need to accept that we may never have the answer to what went wrong. We just have to move on. Besides, do you really want to have to convince someone to date you? You will save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache if you learn to read between the lines early on.
I have two close friends, both in admirably healthy marriages, who have told me on numerous occasions (typically following a heartbreak) that the early stages of dating should be the easiest part. If you find yourself making excuses for bad behavior by your significant other, imagine how much worse that would be five years down the road, when real issues in life are thrown your way.
No matter their age or level of dating experience, most men and women struggle with relationships because they make the mistake of looking for love and validation from others, instead of finding it first within themselves. When you attach your value to another person's perception of you, you give away your power and become dependent. The outcome or condition of a relationship should never leaving us questioning our self-worth. Being loved is all we are searching for at the end of the day, but the process of finding love can often cause us to lose confidence with ourselves.
No one is exempt from feeling self-doubt when faced with rejection; it just comes with the territory. Having a good relationship with yourself first will always be the foundation needed to create a healthy relationship with someone else. If you are confident in who you are, you will be able to shake off any missed connections and move forward.
Date for the right reasons — do not date to fill a void; that will only end in disaster. Reaching for a temporary solution to mask what you are feeling on the inside will only cause you more trouble in the long run. When you focus on being your best self first, anyone you meet along the way will be a bonus, so stop looking for someone to “fix” you. Fix your own damn self.
The incessant need for instant gratification makes finding a relationship of substance seem impossible. Living in such a technologically advanced time is great, but can also cause a false sense of reality when it comes to real time. It seems as if society is so much more impatient now that we have the world at our fingertips. In some ways, this can be both a blessing and a curse.
The Internet can find you a date almost instantly, but it’s up to you to take it from there. Finding eternal bliss will never be as easy as booking a Southwest flight. We forget that even the healthiest of relationships require real work. Say it with me, people: “Real love requires real work.”
Social media is partly to blame for this mentality. People like to show off and tend to show only the good stuff. We’re all guilty of it. This makes the false reality even worse: We forget what it takes to get what we want.
Let’s say you see a friend post about their first day at work for a prominent law firm. What that person isn’t showing is the mountain of student loan debt it took to get to that position or the countless hours they spent studying for the bar. Posting a picture of your shining moment is great and well-deserved, but don’t let a picture fool you. Real rewards will require real work.
It’s important not to base your life around the idealistic perception of what should be — what your life should look like, whom you should be dating, etc. Living your life by the shoulds is the fastest way to feel unsatisfied. If something is worth having, it is worth working for. We forget the fact that all relationships — even the best relationships — will experience lows.Rather than jumping right back into less-than-loving arms of Tinder, consider giving that guy or girl a second chance and working through your issues.
Human beings crave companionship, not necessarily commitment. Like it or not, there is a rising number of people on dating sites "window shopping" with no real intent of entering into a relationship. Some people think they can have all the benefits of a relationship without making the effort of a commitment, so you have to be prepared to experience both types of people — the commitment-phobes and those willing to commit — in your quest for love.
You cannot allow your world to end whenever you face rejection. Fear of failure will only cause you to fail more, so learn not to personalize it. If you can’t build a thicker skin, you have no business entering into the dating world, especially the online dating world. If you allow it, these dating sites will drive you insane. Instead, know in advance that some people are in it for all the right reasons; it just make a little more time to find those people. Don’t lose hope.
Michele is a former St. Louis Rams Cheerleader living in St. Louis. Follow Michele from the sidelines of the NFL to the sidelines of the modern dating world.