For a long time, the only criteria I had for liking dudes was that they liked me.
It’s easy to see how this pattern begins: Imagine you’re a weird kid who grows into a weird teenager. You see your normal friends develop crushes on normal boys, crushes which aren’t returned or worse, are met with mocking and rejection. You think “If this is how it goes for them, I’ve got no chance. Best not to bother until I know they like me first.” And you file that away for future use.
But then you discover that you don’t like most of the dudes who like you. They’re not interesting, or too shy, or not cute, or whatever. You try to like them but you don’t. Can’t. Won’t? Probably that too.
They aren’t all duds. But the special ones are few and far between. So few and far that after a while you forget what that looks and feels like. You get used to being with dudes who don’t treat you well, or even nicely. You associate relationships with drudgery and panic attacks. It’s misery.
This pattern goes on much, much longer than you like to admit. You get into college relationships with dudes you sort-of like, tolerate at least, and they’re fine. Not great, but okay. And this probably would go on forever, except for one event that seems minor at the time but is actually one of those Turning Points. Your friends set you up with a dude who is, on paper, your perfect match. But when you hang out, you quickly realise that it’s JUST NOT GOING TO GO. Whatever makes two people “click”–god I hate that word, but there it is–is absolutely and completely NOT PRESENT. And suddenly you realise: A dude liking you isn’t enough.
It’s not all about them. It’s about you too.
Everyone dates at least one person solely because that person is really, really into them. It’s seductive, to see yourself through the eyes of someone who is so clearly enraptured with you. But be kind to that person, because at some point you’re going to be where they are. You’re going to like someone SO, SO MUCH and they’re going to be “Eh, whatever.” That’s no reflection on you; all it means is that not everyone likes everyone all the time. That’s just how it goes.
So the bar gets set low, as low as possible, with “my only standard is that you like me.” The reason it gets set like this is because of fear. You’re afraid that nobody will love you as you are, that these imperfections that you have will be insurmountable for the rest of humanity. They are not. No matter who you are or how you are, someone will love you. Probably lots of someones. You just have to put the effort in ahead of time. Because as RuPaul says, If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you gonna love someone else?
I realise that not everyone subscribes to the PLAN AHEAD! philosophy of me, compulsive list-maker, but this is one area where you really should. Be a complete person alone! Do the work on yourself ahead of time, and things in a romantic relationship become much easier! Here, I made some bulletpoints because I liked the idea so much.
- Figure out what you want to do in life and get on that track.
- Cultivate an exceptional group of friends and interests, because no boy or girl can/should occupy 100% of your time.
- Make the place you live somewhere you love.
- Everyone can benefit from some therapy, so if you have the resources to do so, do it and don’t feel bad (we’re all scarred from something).
- If therapy isn’t in your budget, get a notebook and start writing. Better out than in.
That way, when you meet someone you want to get to know, you get to know them as your awesome self, not as your insecurities. Because those will speak for you if you let them, and sometimes you don’t even realise they’re doing it.
When you think about the feats that need to accomplished to get into a relationship at all, let alone a good one, the mind boggles. Two people have to be in the same place at the same time in order to meet. That alone is almost staggeringly improbable. Then they both have to be single (I mean, ideally), find the other one attractive, be sexually compatible, have some common ground, want a relationship, etc etc etc. Statistically it seems like nobody would ever meet anyone they liked and nobody would ever be happy. There are so many variables. But the thing is, it happens every day. Somewhere out there, a dude is clicking a picture on Match.com. A girl is smiling at another girl on the train. People are meeting and falling and getting married (because EVERYONE should be allowed to get married if they want to) and breaking up and meeting new people all over again. Because, and as much as I hate to say it, sometimes statistics are misleading. Sometimes, in execution, they don’t mean as much as you think.
With all that in mind, plus the knowledge that we’re all going to die someday, isn’t it silly to always wait to be picked? Raise your standards, get over your fear and do your own damn choosing.