It’s been said thousands upon thousands of times over the internet (practically since the internet came into existence), but the bottom line is for the most part, dating blows. It’s a promiscuous, anxiety-inducing, anger-producing mess, and if we want any hopes of being anything than the crazy cat person once we hit forty, we have to play the game. In order to play, we have to resign ourselves to the awful likelihood that we’re going to get played .
Is there anything you can do about it? Besides being frightfully picky about who you date or remaining solitary altogether, no. The best thing to do as they all say, is to toughen up and not let anybody get past your defenses, because that way you’ll spare yourself from pulling all of the hair from your head. Whether or not it’s the best way to navigate the deceiving throes of dating, there’s always the exception.
The exception: that man or woman with the terrifying and seemingly effortless power to waltz right in and bewitch you before you’ve even had time to say a sentence. We can all advise ourselves to keep our hearts locked up, but once we know, we know. Not only do we know that we’d probably do anything to impress this person (including taking all of our clothes off before the second date), but also that in a few weeks time, we’re going to be feeling used, betrayed, undesirable, stupid, and a whole host of other enjoyable emotions.
I believe you should always be yourself when you’re dating, treat the other person as a friend until given cues otherwise, and to expect nothing until a commitment has been made. But, when you’re in the thick of it, sticking to your game plan can be easier said than done.
Instead, you should try keeping your eyes peeled around certain events. It’s all too easy to jump the gun and admit to your friends that you’re dating a person once you’ve met their parents, but to different people, these iconic ‘dating steps’ have varying degrees of importance. Parents is the big one, and you need to take note of how you met them. Did their Dad walk by the living room and say ‘hi’ while you were watching a film together? Or, did your date arrange for you all to have a meal so you could be properly introduced? To some, getting the stamp of approval from their folks isn’t of significance in the slightest. If you’re unsure that you’ve stepped it up, try asking them to meet your parents and see how they respond.
Sex shouldn’t need an explanation, but despite ourselves we all end up falling for it. We’re not in the 60s anymore: sex has become something much more trivial than what we read about in romance novels. For a lot of Millenials, sex is nothing more than a hobby: it’s something enjoyable they can do for half an hour. Doesn’t always matter who it’s with, unless they’re incredibly vain or picky: they just want to get the job done. I’m not saying that every 20-something is a sex-starved maniac that’s only looking to get their rocks off, but you need to be careful about what you feel when you get intimate with someone you don’t know terribly well. It’s all too easy for you to runaway with that post-orgasmic sensation of feeling connected to the person you just had sex with, and it’ll hurt like hell if they zip their pants up and vanish from your life for good.
Even staying the night isn’t something that’ll guarantee you’re in with a shot at a relationship. It could be that the sex was really awesome, and they just want a second round in the morning. Even worse, they could be too lazy to skulk off home if you’re the one that’s hosting. Again, sharing a bed overnight with someone can be a connecting experience (provided you didn’t just pass out after binge drinking), but some people do it all the time, with just about anyone they can lure into their bed.
What you need to keep track of are the number of dates, change in behavior (for the better, hopefully), nice gestures and eagerness to meet again. It’s no good if they’re silent for a few weeks, then suddenly they’re in a rage over you and have to see you right now (that’s called being horny): it has to be consistent and unprovoked. Anyone can give you dating advice, but the truth is we’re all individual, and you’ll be dating someone that a considerable amount of people haven’t dated before. So, in some aspects, you’re on your own: just keep your wits about you, and don’t fall too soon.