In this post, I’m going to be talking about bad dating experiences and what I learned from each one. Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you will probably have been subjected to at least one of my rants about what dating is really like for millennials such as myself. Dating can be a great opportunity for self-reflection as well as exploration but what it can also be is a complete waste of time if you are not careful!
A year ago, I decided to jump out of the dating pool and walk away completely. Bad dating experiences (not just the two mentioned) definitely played a part in my decision. Bad dates can teach us so many things about ourselves and others.
After two years of being single, I convinced myself that I was ready to ‘get out there again’ and I had a clear understanding of what I wanted/didn’t want in a potential partner. However, what I was not prepared for was the emotional rollercoaster dating takes you on. I met a guy and after about two weeks of talking, we went on a date. The date was alright. The conversation flowed and I did enjoy his company, however, after our date I noticed that his communication skills were quite poor. He lacked consistency. He’d gone from calling me sometimes to just never calling at all and opting to message me on Whats App instead. (I’m not criticizing women who are happy for WhatsApp to be the sole method of communication when they are getting to know a guy. This is just not for me).
One thing I had learned from my last relationship was to speak up. If something isn’t right, you need to address it. In the early dating stages, you should never let things manifest, because what will happen is you’ll either ignore all issues or explode at a later date. I addressed the communication issue, and to cut a long story short, things didn’t get better after that. He had double-booked himself on the day we were due to go on our second date, and on reflection, he shouldn’t have been given the benefit of the doubt. On our third date, he was running late and didn’t inform me. I waited for about 10 minutes and I decided to leave. He called about 40 minutes later (when he eventually arrived (can you believe?!) and asked me to go back there to meet him. I gave him a piece of my mind and that was the last time we spoke.
Now, onto my second dating experience. I met this guy online and we had a great connection. We did speak on the phone one or two times before our date (again with a two week window). We spoke about everything from life to work and even religion. I did like him but at the same time, I was a little cautious when he told me he had a child. After my last relationship, I had vowed that I wouldn’t date a man with a child again. After we went on a date, communication took a hit. All I would get was a WhatsApp message every morning and like the previous situation, I had mentioned my concerns to him. Things didn’t change so I cut off all contact with him.
By this point, my emotions were raw because I couldn’t believe this was happening again. I knew that I hadn’t really mastered what it meant to be vulnerable so both of these dating experiences made me feel like there was something wrong with me. I didn’t understand that this was just simply just a case of my standards not being met, and that’s ok. It has happened to us all at some point in our lives.
Being in a relationship is a wonderful thing but choosing the right person is so important. In the past, I’ve always adopted a ‘dive in without looking’ mentality and it has always got me into trouble. When I became single, I made a vow to be honest and open with myself about my wants, needs, expectations etc. Once you make a pact with yourself about what you deserve, entertaining anyone who isn’t a good fit just isn’t an option.
Here are some of the things I took away from my bad dating experiences:
Men aren’t clueless – This is something every female needs to ingrain in their psyche. Men know exactly what they are doing – and yes, that includes the toxic, emotionally unavailable and abusive ones. If you’ve ever found yourself in a position where you’ve told a man you’re not happy with something or that you would like him to change, he’s heard you. Whether he decides to change or not is completely up to him. Real men have a sense of purpose: they know what they want. If he’s stopped getting in touch, that is not your cue to start bombarding him with calls, texts and sweet nothings. Those are toxic behavioral traits that he has probably had way before you came along. Women with the saviour complex are very likely to fall for these types of guys. The fixing, the helping, the ‘if only’s’ are what trap us into giving these kinds of men more time than they deserve. If you are ever made to feel unsure or uncomfortable in any way, then he isn’t the one for you.
If something is wrong, speak up – We all have our own levels of tolerance. There are things we will and we won’t stand for. Women are very decisive beings. We exert full force into making important decisions relating to other areas in our lives, but for some reason as soon as it’s time to take a stand on how we are being treated in a dating/potential relationship situation, we’re mute. Boundaries are so important. If something is off, address it. Once the issue has been addressed, you will need to figure out whether you are able to move forward. This will take time, but it is up to you to pay attention as to whether or not things are improving. Remember: the best apology is changed behaviour.
What you accept in the early stages, is what you will put up with later – No good has ever come from making excuses for someone. If a red flag has popped up, do not ignore it. Honing in on two good qualities when he has ten that are a huge cause for concern will do nothing. Whatever you accept will be what you tolerate. Set the standard for the kind of behaviour you expect. Standards doesn’t involve hand holding or guiding anyone through the do’s and don’ts but it’s just about trusting yourself enough not to entertain any nonsense from a man. Asking questions also ties in with acceptance. I’m not saying bombard your date with 21 questions immediately, but listen to the responses you receive. Certain dealbreakers may not actually show up until later.
A lack of (or bad) communication is a red flag – We all communicate with other people. It is a way of life. Avoiding communication is a huge red flag. When you are getting to know someone, variety is important. Using calls AND texts/Whatsapp messages is a must. Everyone leads busy lives but this shouldn’t be used by anyone as a reason for keeping you at arms length. That’s what a lack of communication does. How can you possibly get to know someone if all they do is send you a ‘what you doing’ text twice a week? Pay attention to how he communicates as well as how often he communicates.
Pursuit is a dual activity – I think the trouble with our understanding of pursuit is partly due to the messages we receive from society. There’s an influx of articles and videos in magazines and on social media that advise women on how to go above and beyond to ‘land the man of their dreams’. Don’t even get me started on the ‘ladies, shoot your shot’ phenomenon. Nobody wants to find themselves in a situation where they are giving more than they are getting. There’s nothing romantic about this. It takes two people to build a healthy relationship.
There is nothing wrong with taking time out from the dating scene – Don’t look for things in others that you should be giving to yourself! If your mind isn’t in the right place, take the time you need to work on yourself. Also, don’t rush the process. There are so many people out there who are happy with their single status and that’s because they live their best lives. It is ok to want a relationship and companionship but wanting it and recklessly giving your time and energy to everyone that shows you a bit of attention is a whole other story. If you feel like you need a partner in order to feel complete, there may be some underlying issues that you haven’t addressed. This article from xoNecole, which addresses validation in relationships is worth a read.
Discernment is so important when getting to know someone – Discernment is all about perceiving what is true or false, good or bad or helpful/not helpful. Discernment isn’t something we have all been blessed with. People who have a good level of discernment are able to identify the heart of any issues or problems that may arise. Examples of a lack of discernment in a relationship include: justifying behaviour, ignoring contradictions, trying to get the same thing from the same person and get different results, lack of boundaries. In simpler terms, discernment allows you to clearly identify where people are at in their journey. If you find yourself dating the same type of guy (like I did last year), you need to increase your level of relationship discernment.
Never blame yourself for a bad dating experience – This is something that I found myself doing when my dating experiences went pear shaped. Instead of being thankful that I dodged two very big bullets, I felt so down and frustrated. It is completely normal to feel like you will never find someone, especially after a bad date, but all you have to do is take it on the chin and affirm that the love you deserve is out there. Good things take time. What you don’t want to do is allow a bad dating experience to change your outlook on yourself and relationships. If you do use social media regularly, pay attention to what you are being told. For example, you cannot say you want a relationship while following every single man bashing page on IG. It’s contradictory. Stay positive and be cautious of what messages you may be exposing yourself to.
Dating in 2019 can be hard but the most important thing you can do for yourself is to recognize your self worth. Be yourself and don’t entertain anything or anyone that makes you feel unworthy or uncomfortable. The relationship that you want will be yours. Don’t settle.
What have you learned from bad dating experiences?
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