We all screw up when it comes to love and dating, and I’m certainly no exception. My 20s were a disaster of terrible choices and even worse guys, but those experiences taught me a ton about myself, love and life in general — lessons I carry with me now that I’m older and a bit wiser.
- Don’t jump in so quickly. Ah, young love. It all seems so perfect and new and wonderful. The problem is, I’ve always gotten involved too fast to realize when it isn’t quite right. By the time I did, I was already in over my head. It’s hard to disengage from the wrong dude when you’ve already let yourself fall for him.
- If it seems to good to be true, it is. I once met the perfect guy for me… or so I thought. Three months later, everything was a shambles. Beware of the Three Month Wonder! Anyone can maintain a perfect image of himself for a short period of time. Don’t gloss over all his red flags because he seems so amazing. He’s overcompensating.
- Honesty is non-negotiable. I went through a rough few months in my late 20s. I didn’t experiment enough with dating when I was younger, so I saved my worst mistakes for later! I was trying to rebound from a rough breakup with an abusive but charismatic man. I dated someone who treated me well, but to whom I wasn’t that attracted. Long story short, I ended up cheating on him with my ex and deceiving him about it for weeks because I felt terrible. He found out anyway, and it was all so much worse than if I had simply been honest.
- Communication is crucial. Dating someone you can’t communicate with never works! I’ve tried to date all different guys with all different communication styles, and all it taught me was that I’m not as good at speaking my mind as I thought I was. I’m great at spewing forth words and needs and wants, but not great at being vulnerable. My bad communication with my exes has inspired me to strive for better in the future.
- You’re seriously going to kiss a lot of frogs. I was still growing and learning in my 20s, just like everyone else. I didn’t know what I really wanted, besides a guy who was nice to me and liked spending time with me. Now I have a better idea of all that, but I also know it won’t just fall in my lap. You have to go through a lot of wrong guys before you find the right one.
- It’s possible to date at work… Again, a mistake I reserved for my late 20s. I had two work relationships. The first was horrible because he was an alcoholic and a sex addict. He would get drunk, we would get in traumatic fights at our job, then we would make up by going upstairs to have sex in the bathroom. It felt exciting, but now I can see what a disaster it was. The second time was much better, and I actually quite enjoyed seeing my guy at my job every day. It made a miserable work environment bearable.
- … But not a great idea. Though the second relationship was much better, I think in the end. our working together helped kill it. He was my superior, and I always felt lesser than, through no fault of his. I was also miserable there and I took my bad moods out on him. Most of our fights were at work or about work. This is a stupid way to live out your romantic life. When work and love are too intertwined, it’s a recipe for failure. We spent a lot of face time together, but it wasn’t quality time.
- Don’t fall for your fantasy of who he is. Be realistic. I spent a lot of time liking guys because of who I thought they were. I didn’t look at who they actually were. When they exhibited signs of not being right for me, I brushed that aside because there were so many other things I thought I liked about them. Bottom line — when it’s not right, it’s not right. Don’t pretend he’s someone he isn’t.
- Stop staying in relationships that are dead. I make this mistake every time, even still. It’s the worst. I get involved with a guy who isn’t the right fit, then I fall in love with him, then I can’t let him go even though it’s turning into a disaster. I always think I can fix it or change it because I love him so much. I try to adjust who I am to fit him, because he damn well isn’t doing that for me. Even if he is, we’re only trying to measure up to something that isn’t right for either of us. If you can’t be yourself with your partner, what’s the point? It’s crappy, and it hurts, but you have to let it go. This is the hardest lesson of all, and one I still struggle to accept.