The number one thing couples will tell single people when it comes to the trials of dating? “Just be yourself!” Closely followed by, “When you stop looking, it’ll happen!” Well, single me didn’t have time for either of those half-assed pieces of advice. I was actively looking and trying hard to be the person I thought the guys I was seeing wanted me to be, and that led me to date a string of not-so-nice people.
- I was insecure and afraid to be alone. Harsh words, but it’s important to start here since these feelings are the underlying reason I dated so many crappy guys. Ultimately, it all boils down to this: I was lonely and I felt like being with someone, even if they weren’t right for me, would keep me happy and occupied. Having these motives led me to chase some pretty undesirable individuals just for the sake of potential company.
- Almost every time I would go out, I was on the prowl. One of the biggest things I kick myself for is not enjoying single life with my squad more. When we went out, I was all dolled up to get the attention of men and I was constantly on the lookout. In retrospect, I probably missed out on some really fun girls’ outings because I was so distracted looking for male attention.
- My “hunting” made me an easy target for pickup artists. And, as hard as it is to admit, that’s exactly what I was looking for. I might not have jumped up and gone home with every guy who bought me a drink (I did with some, for sure) but my flirting feelers were out there for anyone who would come knocking.
- Even if the guys seemed sleazy or not my type, I’d still give them a chance. Now, there’s nothing wrong with giving a guy who’s not typically your type a chance, but some of these guys were just straight-up jerks. It makes me sick to think back now about how I would giggle at their sexist jokes and try to keep alive fruitless conversations that felt like pulling teeth.
- I was always trying to morph myself into who I thought they wanted me to be. If they were into country music and liked confident girls, I would strive to be that girl. If they liked R&B and didn’t like to talk, I would become their perfect match. I tried to tell myself that I was highlighting different aspects of myself, but I was really just being fake to keep their interest. Eventually, that facade drains all your energy and the real you begins to show through the cracks. Trust me, it’s not worth the effort pretending to be anything you’re not.
- I’d always abide by their relationship rules. Some of the guys wanted to just have sex, others wanted to text constantly and not see each other often, and a few wanted to go on regular dates. Whatever ground rules they set for our relationship, I was pretty much immediately on board. Not once did I express my feelings on how we should see one another, I just rolled with the rules they had in mind.
- I’d let them treat me like dirt. While I did get to meet and date a few nice guys I was actually compatible with, I would say 90% of them weren’t very nice to me. In all fairness, I never endured physical or sexual abuse—and for that, I consider myself lucky—but these guys were still jerks. They would condescend to me, make me feel like a fool, talk crap about my friends TO ME, and generally be nasty to people around them. I found myself constantly embarrassed to go out with whatever a-hole I was with out of fear he’d flip on a waiter or say something insensitive at the bar. Eventually, I got fed up with each of their antics and dumped them.
- I genuinely thought this is what dating was supposed to be. I was young and new to the dating scene during this time, so I just kind of assumed this was what you had to go through. I figured this was all a part of putting yourself out there, going through some rough patches to find the right person. Granted, I was entirely wrong. You ARE destined to date some duds before you find the right guy, but the thing I didn’t see at the time is that you don’t have to date someone just for the sake of it. It’s perfectly fine to talk to someone at the bar, decide they’re not right for you, and politely move along. It took me a while to learn that but I finally did.
- Eventually, you have to find what you’re looking for in yourself. After nearly a year of seeing this string of terrible men, I finally reached my breaking point. I was embarrassed in myself, ashamed that I had wanted companionship so badly that I was willing to be walked all over and ditch my standards just to find it. Following this period, I took a long break from dating. I spent time with friends and family, I worked hard at my job, and I focused on me. And after months of evaluating what I actually wanted in a partner and enjoying “me time,” I was able to reenter the dating scene in a fun, healthy way.