I’m Proud Of My Dating Disasters — They’ve Made Me An Amazing Girlfriend

I’ll admit it — I’ve made some embarrassing, cringe-worthy mistakes in love and dating in the past. I came across as clingy, desperate and ridiculously insecure and did things that I would never do now that I’m a bit older and wiser. I could be ashamed of that, but I’m actually not at all — here’s why:

  1. I learned what not to do. There’s always so much emphasis placed on what to do when interested in a guy, but I sometimes forgot what NOT to do — like calling him when he didn’t respond to three of my texts. Yikies. At least I learned that there are definitely ways to make a guy lose all interest in me, which I suppose comes in handy with guys who won’t take the hint that I’m not interested. Plus, it keeps me from sabotaging relationships I’d actually like to see grow and become something real.
  2. I learned the difference between interested and clingy AFI used to think that just because a guy I liked was interested in me, that meant I could pull out all the stops and show him my feelings in pretty intense ways. Um, no. That just came across as desperate. I’ve since learned that I needed to pace myself and show interest without making a guy think I’m a total stalker, and the change is refreshing.
  3. I learned how to protect myself. What happened when I made dating mistakes? Rejection! That was the hardest part to deal with, but it made me so much stronger. It made me build protective walls around myself to guard my heart so that I only let in the really worthy guys. It made me realize that I didn’t actually need a guy and his opinions don’t change who I am. Rejection from my dating mistakes sometimes seems like the best thing that could have happened to me back then.
  4. I learned what guys really, really don’t like. There are lots of misconceptions about what guys want and by following all that lousy advice, I learned what they really DON’T want — like a woman who tries too hard or who doesn’t have a life of her own. My dating trials and errors were really just a way of gauging male reactions and desires. But then…
  5. I learned that I can and should be myself. So I figured out what guys wanted and didn’t want, and then I decided what I want because I’m the most important player in the dating game. I decided that I didn’t care if guys thought me high-maintenance for having high standards because I’m going to have them regardless. Dating became so much more than getting the guy — now it’s about how I want to play the game, which is so much more empowering.
  6. I learned to stop caring what guys think. After feeling like a fool around guys for coming on too strongly or chasing them, I realized that I actually didn’t need to feel bad. When the dust settled after one of my dating faux pas and the guy didn’t call me back, I realized that I wanted to date so that when I looked back on what had happened, I’d feel that I had done justice to myself no matter what the relationship outcome. Men come and go, but I’ll always be stuck with me and I want to date in a way that does me proud.
  7. I learned that practice makes perfect. It sounds trite, but only because it’s true. I had to date a lot to become a great date — the kind of date who didn’t ramble on about her jerk ex on a first date with a guy, for instance. The only way I could become a better date and girlfriend was to get out there and date! So I did and after all the pitfalls and times when I felt like a fool, I got better at it. Now, I’m amazing.
  8. I learned that as long as I try, that’s all that matters. No matter what happened and what I did, at least I had the guts to date and get out of my comfort zone. It felt great because it meant that I became more confident about myself and more accepting of any dating mistakes I’d committed. Now I know that even if things don’t work out, as long as I put my best foot forward, I’m doing just fine.
  9. I learned I didn’t want to be the psycho. There were times in my past when I’d have huge fights with guys. I thought I was powerful and strong to tell those losers off, but then I’d look back in a few days or weeks and realize that I had come across as a total psycho. I didn’t want to be that angry, bitter woman, but being her for a while taught me that the best way to be was to take the high road so I’d have no regrets (and no risk of ending up on YouTube… just saying). These days, I’m way better at keeping my cool in all regards.
  10. I learned that I needed to stop holding onto the fairytale. I had a lot of glamorized ideas during my 20s. For instance, I thought that the bad boys were awesome and intriguing. By dating them, I learned that they’re really not at all — in fact, they’re a waste of time and way too much energy. By trying out what I thought I wanted and then busting dating myths for myself, I was able to finely tune what I want in a man in future.
  11. I learned how to be a better communicator. I used to be too emotional for my own good. I’d be led by my heart no matter what, which might sound cool but really isn’t because sometimes I really need a good dose of logic. After conversations with guys that totally tanked or caused huge rifts in our relationships, I learned better ways to communicate, which made me a better girlfriend and woman in general. Winning.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.