So the thing I’ve come to realise about dating in your late twenties (and beyond), is that people start to see dates like a series of auditions for ‘The One’. It’s all well and good when you’re openly doing a challenge which involves cramming 30 First Dates into three months. But back in the normal dating world, most singletons in their late twenties and early thirties have one thing on their mind. And that’s marriage.
Now, of course they won’t tell you that. And there are always going to be those who are just after sex. But if someone is over twenty-five and actively dating – using dating websites where they have to pay to be a member, or attending singles events – then normally they are looking for a relationship. And not just any relationship.
They will have spent the summer watching their nearest and dearest friends getting married. Their social calendar is filling up with weddings, christenings, and other very adult-seeming events, and suddenly they’ve realised they’re the only singleton in their friendship group.
They are not just dating to find a relationship. They are looking for THE relationship.
The problem is, when you start with this attitude, you’re already on the back foot. Suddenly dating really isn’t all that fun. Because what you’re inadvertently doing, is turning it all into one big job interview! And it’s a job interview with a potentially never-ending list of applicants.
How do you commit to someone when you don’t know who is around the corner? Someone might seem almost perfect. But is almost perfect good enough? This is ‘your One’ right! Surely he or she should be perfection personified? No grey areas? No compromises?
The thing is, life really doesn’t work like that.
And if I speak to any of my happily-married friends, the vast majority of them didn’t meet their other half and think ‘This is The One’ at first instance! Yes, they were obviously attracted to them in some way. But for most of my friends, it has taken years to properly decide whether they want to spend the rest of their lives with someone.
Just because you’re getting older, you should never pressure yourself into finding that realisation in a few short dates. Even if that’s what seems to happen in the movies.
Last week I was asked by a popular dating website to write a series of tips for online daters. I’ll tell you more about it once the articles are published, but as a result I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the singleton’s attitude to dating. And ways in which you can open yourself up to a better dating experience.
These days, every time someone asks me about the 30 Dates, I reply by explaining how this summer ended up being literally one of the best of my life.
Not because I ‘met my One’ (the question most people ask immediately), but because it was genuinely SO much fun!
I went on dates with guys I wouldn’t have looked twice at in a bar. Men I haven’t stayed in touch with, and will never meet again. Guys who I knew within minutes that I didn’t make the grade for. But that was all beside the point, because I wasn’t dating to ‘find my ONE’, I was dating to remember how much FUN it all could be. And that was exactly what I achieved.
The minute you replace the idea of the One with the concept of just having Fun, you relax and start acting like yourself. And that way you change your entire approach. You relax more, and you can just be yourself.
If you’re looking for a successful relationship, someone needs to fall for you, not a model version of you. Yes, turning up on a first date with no make-up on, in tracksuit bottoms, or with wet hair might be one step too far into the comfort zone, but there is no harm in relaxing and just acting like yourself on a date.
One of the worst dates I ever went on before this challenge was with a guy who was really into music. I have the musical taste of a 15 year-old (something I now happily admit to!). But at the time I thought the way to his heart was through a shared love of music. And so for four hours, I acted like a nodding dog whenever he mentioned a cool band name, not knowing half the things he was talking about. It was exhausting. He came away thinking I was his perfect girl. I came away realising just how tiring it is to try to pretend to be someone you’re not.
In the past few months, I’ve had more attention from men than ever before. Part of that is obviously the very nature of the challenge. I was actively publicising the fact that I was single, and aggressively searching for dates, both online, and amongst my friends.
And yet there’s way more to it than that. The more dates I’ve been on, the more laissez faire my attitude towards dating has become. If anything, I’ve begun to act more like a boy in my approach. It’s hard to spend time reading into messages, when you’re texting up to eight guys at once. And whilst some people might turn that round and call that behaviour slutty, if all you’re doing is arranging first or second dates (and the guys are aware you’re not being exclusive) I can’t see anything wrong in it.
However you achieve it yourself, the more relaxed you become about dating, and more confident you are in yourself, the more attractive you’ll become to members of the opposite sex.
And that is when you might find a Tyler Durden character appearing.
No, not a soap-making sociopath! But a guy who is almost too good to be true. A man who, like James Bond, men want to be, and women want to bed! Stylish, cool, charismatic and attractive. A guy so almost perfect he feels a bit like a figment of your imagination.
Tyler Durden is not a husband candidate. He has his flaws. And they are too big to hide from. But that’s not to say you can’t date him.
Because dating as a twenty or thirty-something shouldn’t just be about the husband candidates.
Sometimes you need to go on dates for reasons other than finding your One.
And the great thing about Tyler Durden, is not only can he remind you how much fun dating is … he can also remind you why you’re single.
When you’re the only singleton at a wedding, or you’re celebrating the big 3-0 with no idea about who you’ll be spending the next thirty years of your life with, it can be easy to turn your own single status around on yourself.
But the worst thing you can do is start searching yourself for reasons why you’re single.
Unless you have questionable hygiene or poor social skills, the chances are you know the real reason why you’re single, and it’s no reflection on how attractive or eligible you are. You want something specific, and you just haven’t found it yet. Maybe you’ve been too picky. Maybe you’ve been too busy with work. Maybe you’ve just come out of a longterm relationship that was wrong for you. Whatever your individual reason, I would put good money on the fact the reason you’re single ISN’T because you’re too fat, or ugly, or everyone hates you …. even though sometimes that might be the way you feel.
And so, while you wait to meet someone who makes your REAL single factor disappear, there’s always Tyler Durden.
A guy who ticks almost every one of your boxes. Not enough to ever make him a real candidate. But enough to remind you just how attractive and eligible you are … and that your single status is something you’ve chosen. Not something the world is forcing on you.
Everyone’s Tyler Durden is different. Because everyone is looking for different things in the person they hope to settle down with.
As for me – well, as I think I revealed early on in this blog, I’ve always been known for my ‘cougar tendencies’! Whenever I’ve found myself single, I’ve ended up dating guys way too young for me. It’s not too much of a surprise, when you realise I still have the TV and musical tastes of a teenager, and spend my spare time writing teenage fiction!
And whilst I know, I’m never going to marry someone much younger than me, because for the most part, longterm relationships are based on shared life experiences, and being in the same place in life, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a date or two with a Tyler Durden every now and again.
A hot, intelligent, funny single guy, who ticks almost all of my ideal guy boxes, apart from perhaps the necessary age bracket.
Like I said, everyone’s Tyler Durden is different. But the effect is always the same. Because Tyler Durden is not a date … he’s a state of mind.
Sometimes you just need to go on a date that puts a simple smile on your face. A reminder that you’ve still got it, and that being single is something you’re choosing to be … and enjoying!
And on that note, I’ll be starting my Dating Experiments with an Age Experiment this Tuesday! 😉
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx