Let me get this out of the way first.
I am by no means a love guru, I don't have the #relationshipgoals nailed down by any means. I don't completely understand what makes some relationships work and others not. I come from a line of imperfect relationships in my family; infidelity, divorce, lack of communication and other things that get in the way of making relationships work.
Yet through all of the poor examples out there, I do truly believe that I have an understanding of the things in hindsight I wish that I had known when I was 20. At some point in every person's life they have wished for hindsight:
If I had only know 'that' a year ago...
If only you would have said something yesterday, we wouldn't have this problem today...
If only this...
If only that...
But that's life, and it's always going to be that way. But maybe, just maybe there is somebody out there who thinks like I do, and is just getting to the point where I was in my early twenties - and they are filled with the dread of finding that long-term relationship. If that's you, then please read on. If it's not you, then please read on anyway because I'm sure you'll find something in this list of 6 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Thought I Knew What Dating Was Going To Be Like... If you think about that phrase too long you're brain will just hurt, so let's just move on.
#6. It's okay to just move on... quickly and forcefully if needed.
So, a little personal back story here. I love telling this story because it's such a perfect example of the warning light going off and me being just too clueless to really pick up on it.
When I first started dating in my early 20s there was this girl whom I thought was really cute. We laughed together and we enjoyed spending time in vicinity of each other - so of course the logical next step is to see if there is a relationship there, right? Right! Well, we took that step towards a relationship fairly slow. We had a couple group dates and a couple solo dates, and everything seemed to be moving along comfortably until...
Yep, about 2 months into our "relationship" she said those words that can never be unsaid:
I can't wait to spend the rest of my life with you...
To which my response was, "ok..." because I was definitely not in the same place. I chose to shelter myself from her and try to wrap my feeble little brain around the concept, and I realized that I wanted a forever relationship... but I wasn't sure if settling with her was the right choice. I tried to end it amiably, but that wasn't good enough for her and it took a massive event and all of my frustration/anger to get the concept understood that I wanted nothing to do with her and she needed to just get out of my life, completely.
If I had known that it was okay to just end it, quickly and effectively I probably would have saved both of us some sanity.
#5. Being together 100% of the time kinda blows.
This concept comes from a couple of (ex)friends who felt the need to spend all of their time together, including the time that they used to spend solo with their best friends.
When your relationship seeps into every aspect of your life: social, economical, religious, work, and so on and so forth - you should really reconsider what that means. These friends started dating and as they became more and more invested in each other it meant that our guy time became time to include his girlfriend. Every time we would try to get something set up with just us guys (as it had been for years prior), the girlfriend would inexplicably show up. It was only later that we learned that our friend had invited her.
We blamed her for a long time, when in reality it was that they both preferred each other over the friendships outside of their relationship. Now I'm not saying that is a bad thing because you should prefer your significant other, but there needs to be an understanding that you can have separate Netflix queues and still be in love.
#4. Talking about the future doesn't have to wait.
Some think the future is a scary concept to talk about, especially when it is in regards to your future with another person. It was probably some of the most nerve-wracking conversation that I had with my wife back when we were dating because I was afraid that our future dreams wouldn't line up.
Yet, the fear of talking about it could have stunted our relationship, and led us down a path of always asking, "what if?". It's okay to talk about the future, it's healthy and it's an important part of discovering how important your dreams are to you and whether you're compatible with the person you're dating.
Avoiding the topic can cause you to spend years in a relationship only to learn 5 years in that maybe your significant other is a Marvel fan and your a DC Comics person. Living that life is just no good for anyone.
#3. Comparison is just plain idiotic.
Whether you're comparing yourself to another person, or your relationship to another; either route is just a terrible road to travel. Because ultimately;
- If you're a guy you are not Chris Hemsworth (or any other hunky actor)
- If you're a girl you are not Olivia Wilde (or any other beautiful actress)
- And your relationship is like no other relationship
It's important to make that distinction and not compare what you are, or what you have with the life of someone else. I can remember with my first girlfriend, we had just started dating and she was convinced that we were destined to be together forever (remember my story from point #6). She had this idea in her head that we were the epitome of perfect couples and she spent long nights comparing me to other guys, and her self to other girls to prove where we were superior... and it always just winds up ruining things, quickly.
#2. It never hurts to try... and try again... and wait for it, try again.
For any literary fans who may be reading this, the quote from the Irish novelist, Oliver Goldsmith, captures this idea perfectly.
Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.
My wife will probably kill me for telling this story, but in the end my persistence is part of why she eventually married me. Let me set the stage for you: It's the middle of 2010 and I just started a seasonal job at a local flower & garden center; hired as a cashier. On my first day I meet her, and I'm instantly smitten. I do everything I can to be around her and eventually she gives me her number and we text back and forth. Thousands of texts go back and forth over the next few months, and after I thought just maybe she was interested I asked her out. She said no.
So I tried again. No.
And again. No.
And again. No.
And again. I'm really busy, no.
And again. No.
Then on the 7th try, the magic word. Yes. We wound up going on our first official date the day before my 26th birthday and we've never looked back. But I could have easily given up after that first "no," but persistence won out and I feel pretty damn good about that.
#1. It's never too late.
When we're young and impressionable, it's easy to watch TV and movies and expect that by the time we're into college we've discovered the love of our life and that we will have our entire life planned out. For some people that is what happens. There are always the high school sweethearts that grow up together and it's just meant to be.
Then there are the people like me who didn't have a freaking clue. There was a point in which I figured, "meh, I guess I'll be alone forever." - If I had truly resigned myself to that fate, I never would have met my wife and let her into my life.
The fairy tale of meeting your perfect match before 20 was not my story since I met my wife just before my 26th birthday, and we've been married now for almost 5 years. But it just goes to prove that time is merely just a measure, it's not a defining limit to when you can discover your potential future partner.
All in all, hindsight is a valuable thing but sometimes it can ruin the fun of experiencing some of the greatest stories especially when it comes to dating. What are your #DatingTruths? Share them and you could be featured in a new fanzine!