Modern dating culture is sometimes like going to the ice cream store: there are so many flavors, so why pick just one? On one hand, I like being able to keep things casual while I figure out what I want. However, I wonder whether dumping guys too quickly means I’ll never end up with a deep, sustainable love.
I love love. Seriously: rom-coms, The Bachelorette, listening to my friends dish about their relationships—I eat that stuff up. My ideas about Prince Charming have definitely changed over the years—I’m looking for a partner instead of a hero these days, for starters—but I still have that same dream of meeting someone who fits me like a puzzle piece that I did when I was a little girl. I love the idea of being in a long-term relationship and growing old with someone, but I’ve never been with someone long enough for that to even have a chance of happening.
I build guys up in my head and they inevitably fall short. When you set your expectations too high, you’re bound to be disappointed—and that’s pretty much what’s happened with every guy I’ve been with. I’ll meet a guy, fall in love, and suddenly create this whole dossier of his character in my mind. The problem is, he’s usually nothing like I pictured, and the minute my perfect fantasy falls flat, I’m over him. There’s no way I can go back to liking his normal boring self when I had this amazing idea of him beforehand.
I don’t feel like “seeing how it goes” if I’m no longer interested. Usually when I’m done, I’m done. I don’t take a few weeks to see if my feelings re-spark: the second I don’t feel invested anymore, I cut the cord. Part of me wonders whether I’m pulling the disappearing act too quickly. Maybe if I stuck around for a bit longer and rode out whatever irritation made me lose interest, I’d actually find someone I could be with long-term.
I’m not high-maintenance, but it takes a lot to keep me interested. I know, it sounds like I’m contradicting myself. But I mean it: despite my daydreaming, I’m not looking for a rich, handsome football-playing astronaut-doctor-prince to spoil me rotten. I want someone normal, grounded, driven, and funny—not too much to ask, right? But somehow, every guy I’ve been with has fallen short. No matter how intelligent, funny, or insightful I originally think he is, sooner or later our conversations become tired and stale, and I’d rather tear my hair out than talk to him ever again.
I wonder if I’m too critical, but I’m not willing to lower my standards. Half of me definitely thinks I’m being unrealistic: I can’t expect a perfect guy—they don’t exist! I’m probably automatically eliminating amazing guys without even really giving them a chance. But the other half of me goes, “No way I’m settling for a sub-par relationship, my standards are perfectly reasonable!” I honestly don’t know if I am being ridiculous, since “standards” are super subjective and other girls might be willing to tolerate behavior that makes me run for the hills.
I keep wondering if there’s someone better out there. Usually, once people are past the honeymoon phase, they get to a point where they’re just comfortably dating: the spark’s still there, but it’s not all fireworks all the time. That’s when my mind starts wondering. Once things settle down, I start to get jittery. Was this all too easy? Am I missing out on someone even more amazing? I worry that this kind of thinking prevents me from ever enjoying lasting love, but I don’t know how to change it.
I’m super forgiving of my friends, but I can’t do the same with guys. I’m not quick to run in all my relationships: I have friends that I’ve had for years and our bonds have only strengthened over time. None of them are perfect, or even close to perfect! As the years go by, their flaws and irritating little quirks come out and I love them for everything they are, quirks and all. I know I’m capable of accepting people with their shortcomings—I’m not some cold, cruel witch who cuts people off at the first sign of a bad habit—but with guys, I can’t bring myself to be that forgiving and I don’t know why.
It’s not like I’m some kind of perfect goddess. Don’t get me wrong: I think I’m pretty cool, but I also have tons of flaws and I’m sure that my partners have found things about me that could use improving. I figure that the good outweighs the annoying with me, right? But how can I expect guys to overlook or accept my flaws if I don’t do the same for them?
I don’t know whether it’s better to settle or be single. On one hand, I would never want to be with a guy just to be with him if I’m not truly, deliriously happy; on the other hand, I wonder whether this means I’ll actually be alone forever. Frankly, I can’t make up my mind about what I’d prefer. I love being single now, but will I regret it later down the road if I’ve consistently rejected every guy that came my way?
I don’t prioritize love, so I can’t really work on my dating behavior. In reality, love and dating only take up a small fraction of my day. I have a busy career, passion projects, and friends and family that fill up my days, so I never really get the chance to sit down and think about changing the way I date or at least changing my attitude. Still, I worry that if I never change, my relationship patterns will never change either.