Following on from yesterday’s post, I round up five other lessons which I’ve learned in recent years.
6) That dating is as much about you as it is about the other person
Two years ago, when I first started online dating, I didn’t get it. I saw it as a form of online shopping. You enter your set requirements, and computer says yes, or more likely, no!
And yet the more I dated online, the more I began to understand about myself. Yes, there are certain physical characteristics which I find attractive in a guy – his height, his hair colour. And social tick boxes which can help me understand whether we might be well-matched – education, background, job.
But the more people I met up with, the more I realised that there are far more important characteristics which I need in a partner. Things which tell me far more about myself in a relationship, and traits which I know an online search will never find. How affectionate and tactile a guy is. His sense of humour. Old-fashioned manners. Social confidence. The more combinations you ‘experiment’ with, the easier it becomes to understand what you actually need in a partner.
7) That relationships are a two-way street
Life rarely sails on a completely even keel. And whether the relationship in question is a romantic one, or a friendship, there will always be times in life when one of you is busier or more stressed than the others. The best relationships obviously recognise this, and act like a see-saw, so that one of you supports the other, during times of stress or need, and roles reverse when the situation changes.
However a relationship can’t function properly if it always goes one way. If one of you always gives, and the other always takes, eventually someone is going to get bored, or worse, frustrated.
There’s a great saying about friendships – that we should surround ourselves with people who are ‘radiators’ as opposed to ‘drains’. People who are positive to be around. People who give something back, rather than always taking away.
I’ve always been someone who puts my all into things, and so I’ve often found it hard to step away when I realise a dynamic isn’t working, and I’m constantly giving and receiving little (emotionally, or in terms of time, or effort) in return. But something I finally began to do when I hit my 30s was take more confident steps away from relationships and friendships which I realised weren’t making me happy.
8) That sometimes in life the best approach is reactive rather than proactive
I’ve always been a proactive person. I’ve spent my life setting myself challenges, and goals, and working out how to achieve them.
By contrast, the past 18 months has been very different. As most of you know, this blog was completely unplanned. An idea, expressed in a whimsical Facebook status, which led to a blog, which led to an entire career-change and relocation for me! In the past 18 months, I have found a voice, developed a career, been offered the job of my dreams, created my own company, and moved to the bright lights of London. And all thanks to Henley Boy and a bad online dating experience!
I’ve achieved far more in the last 18 months than I could ever have dreamed of, but one of the reasons I believe I’ve been so successful was because I stopped pushing in a certain direction, and began responding instead to the offers that came my way.
Sometimes in life you need to work out when to stop talking, and to start listening instead. What opportunities are coming your way? Which offers are of interest? Is there a direction you could take things in, which you haven’t yet thought about?
9) That some people in life just waste your time
Something I learnt extremely quickly, having set up my business, was that just how many time wasters there are in the world. People who huff and puff, and create a lot of smoke and mirrors, but who when it comes down to it, are simply hype and words. People who, when you actually ask for help, or call them up on their offers, you quickly discover have no foundation.
These people will exist in all areas of your life. The friends who constantly suggest you meet up, but never set a concrete date. The colleagues who offer help, but never follow through with it.
One of the most satisfying lessons I learned this year was how to identify these time wasters, and deal with them. Instead of wasting my own time and effort playing a game which I knew would never come to anything, I created a file in my inbox. A folder called ‘Time Wasters’. And sometimes I mentally file stuff in that folder too …
10) That the happier you are in yourself, the more attractive you are to the outside world
That old cliche – that you need to love yourself before someone else can love you. It’s a cliche for a reason. People say it a lot, because it’s true.
Confidence is attractive. Self-assurance is attractive. Knowing who you are, and embracing that, are attractive.
The thing about relationships is that you need to come into them as a full person. It’s not a question of finding someone to complete you. It’s a question of finding someone to complement you. The more happy and comfortable you are in your own skin … the better you understand yourself … the more likely you are to find someone who truly complements you.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx