I’m always telling people to go out and date. And there are a number of reasons for that. Fun, meeting new people, self-confidence etc etc.
One of the key reasons I often quote in particular is just how much you can learn from dating. It’s too easy to write a definitive tick-list for your ideal partner, without understanding which qualities really matter in real life. Without meaning to sound trite, the more you date, the more you learn, not just about others, but also about yourself.
In my year of rather aggressive serial dating, I’ve learned a number of things about myself. And yet it was only last month that I realised there is still so much more for me to learn.
I was on a date with a friend of a friend. It was all a little odd, to be honest. I’d been convinced to go on the date, because he was apparently low on self-confidence. He’d had a car accident some time beforehand, and his leg is encased in a metal cage. When I originally agreed to the date, I was led to believe my date had lost his dating mojo, and needed to regain his confidence. As someone who used and abused blind dates last summer, all for the sake of my 30 Dates Challenge, I was more than happy to agree to give something back, and be someone else’s blind date for a change. I was assured I’d get on well with my date, and that we had things in common.
It was only when I was on the date that I realised he had slightly different intentions than I had originally realised. My date wasn’t lacking in confidence surrounding his leg – and as I made clear to him, no woman worth her salt would be put off because his leg was encased in a high tech cast for a few more months. As we chatted a bit more, I got to learn that he was training to be a journalist, and wanted some advice on blogging and journalism. Whilst I admit I felt a little misled, I was happy to chat about my experiences of blogging, and we had a rather frank chat about dating, over a picnic in Hyde Park.
The friend who had put us in touch had been right, we did have stuff in common, and if I’m honest, I recognised a lot of myself in him. And that’s where the lesson began.
In case you haven’t realised, I’m rather wordy.
I love words, and I love writing. Why say something in ten words, if you can use a hundred, and paint the full picture?!
And so often, when I text boys, I break the rules. I ignore that old adage that your response should always be shorter than the text you received, and I type how I talk … at length!
I used to think my writing was something of a litmus test when it came to boys. Often I’d write long wordy letters to explain how I felt about stuff. And the guys who ‘got me’ would be the ones who appreciated it, or even better wrote back.
But I’m not a teenage girl any more, and the more I come to understand about dating, the more I can see why I was probably single for most of my teens and early twenties!
My date with Robo-Man (hopefully that blog name embodies just how cool I think his cage is!) was nice. There weren’t massive sparks, but it was comfortable and amicable – probably on a par with the first time I met TOWTS – one of the 30 Dates who I now consider a real friend.
I sent a polite text a little while later, reassuring him about his leg and telling him I’d had fun.
And then at 3am I received THE longest text message I have ever received in my life! It was on Whatsapp, and it literally filled 4 iPhone screens.
As I sat there, reading the incredibly long, detailed, heartfelt message, I wasn’t despairing for Robo-Man, I was despairing for me. Because I know I’ve sent messages like that to guys I really fancy. Maybe not all in one message, but I’ve certainly explained myself at length that way before.
Yes, Robo-Man and I do have a lot in common. We’re really similar. Not in a compatible, ‘I want to date him’ kind of way. But in a ‘f*ck, this is what I’ve done to guys’ kind of way.
Reading the text my stomach fell. I didn’t know how to respond. And this was the way I’d probably made several guys feel over the years. It was like watching a 3D film and only putting the glasses on towards the end of the movie.
There are many lessons to be learned from dating. Sometimes the biggest lessons we learn about ourselves come from others. From the way others respond to us, but also from the way we see ourselves echoed in others.
I replied politely to the text, and admitted to not knowing how to respond. Communication petered out – much as it had all those times I’d been the one sending lengthy messages.
But even if I never see him again, I won’t forget Robo-Man. Every time I start waxing lyrical over text message … every time I convince myself that I’m ok adding another message to a conversation, because that’s just how I speak … I’ll rethink. I’ll remember Robo-Man, and ask myself if the message is really necessary. Because sadly I know how I felt when I saw that late-night text from him, and whilst I understand the thought process behind it all too well, I also know the reaction it stirred in me.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx