A Year of Dating

Let’s talk about dating, since some of my friends have asked me what it’s like to be dating now, and what it’s like to be dating as an older (relatively) person.

As I was thinking about how to frame this whole discussion, I realized that I need to start with the disclaimer that I’ve only really learned how to date in the past few years. Prior to that, I didn’t really make a point to seek out people to date, and I tended to jump into relationships with the people I did happen to meet that I found intriguing. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly didn’t teach me how to date.

I wouldn’t say I planned it out this way, but I entered 2017 simply trying to be open to meeting new people without expectations. I ended up going on dates with 10 new people. Some of them multiple times, and some of them just for a first date. So:

Lesson #1: It’s not that hard to get dates. If an introvert with interests that are uniquely solo (I don’t need anyone else to go take some photos) and an aversion to planning can average almost one new date per month, anyone can. It does take some effort, but not much.

Is it better/worse now than it was when ‘you’, specific reader, were dating? It probably depends on how you feel about choice. Dating apps let you feel like you have a world of options, and I guess I think that’s a good thing, if you’re open to being humbled. It’s a big world out there, and your chances of matching on a dating app/site with that one person you might fixate on are pretty low. But if you open yourself up to meeting people without expectation, there are all sorts of ways to have an enjoyable evening. And no, that doesn’t mean hooking up. I had several first dates that were thoroughly enjoyable conversations with other humans that didn’t go anywhere romantically.

Lesson #2: Humility. Once you accept that you don’t know everything, and aren’t planning for a highly specific outcome, you open yourself up to learning all sorts of new things.

Huh. That got deep.

Along those lines, there is one specific thing that I learned this year… or perhaps that I’m ready to acknowledge and try to work on. I’m even worse than normal at communicating with someone about whom I’m genuinely excited. I’m not sure if this is counter-intuitive or not. I don’t know if it’s because I tend towards depression, and the feeling of actual excitement and happiness throws me off. (That’s probably overstating it a little, but you get the idea.) I do know that it’s not something new, and I can imagine a few specific ex-es who would nod at reading this. But having the experience alongside other less serious dates made it stand out in a way that will make me focus on it, and hopefully improve, the next time it comes along. Which will probably be a good thing.

Lesson #3: Be honest with yourself.

I could go on, and am certainly willing to answer specific questions, but I partially wanted to reflect on this because it was new to me, and I wasn’t sure how serious I wanted to be about dating this year… and I think it would be a good thing if I continued this year as I’ve been going. Best of luck to anyone and everyone else out there who are trying to navigate these waters.