I love talking about dating. On my Instagram and on my blog Playing the Game I discuss the ins and outs of dating and relationships. The “rules,” the etiquette, texting, dating apps. One thing I haven’t talked about is past relationships, how they effect us, shape our next relationships, how we move on. I also have not divulged much of my relationship history to my followers. My relationship past is important though; it led me to where I am now. It gave me the confidence to start a blog, to move to LA, to understand more about who I am so I can be better in my next relationship.
I had a stunted dating life. I grew up at a dance studio and was a professional dancer. To be honest I didn’t really start dating until the end of college. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic though. I would fixate on the cute plots, the Hollywood endings, the two souls who found one another. I chased that for awhile. I thought drama equaled love. My first couple relationships were not real relationships. They were with guys that I worked with and would frequently hang out with but we didn’t really date. The idea of being friends first has always resonated well with me. There’s something to be said for having that foundation. Was I properly courted? No. But it was fun while it lasted. I had my summer fling with the “hot” Chicago bartender that I was infatuated with. I should have known better with that one.
My first real boyfriend wasn’t until I was 24. I loved him. Or at least I thought I did. The whole thing moved too fast. We met and became inseparable. I know now that in the beginning you don’t need to spend 4 nights a week with someone when you first meet them. You should talk about being exclusive instead of assuming that you are. You shouldn’t feel like you can’t be yourself around them. When he saw the less than perfect version of me he kind of shamed me for it. I always thought something was wrong with me. When we broke up I was devastated. I realize now how naive I was.
I dated other guys from the ending of that relationship until 2018. In the next period of my dating experience I met a man who became, and who I can only define as “my best friend” at the time. Writing this now, I see how young and naive I was. The lesson from this relationship was that if a guy is your best friend, he will become somebody you inevitably want to be with. But think about this, no matter how good of a friend he was it doesn’t mean it will lead to a “relationship.” The caveat of “best friend” made me overlook major fault lines and flaws. (It brings up that age old question, can a man and woman JUST be friends.) It depends on the man and the woman, and that old thing called chemistry. But the complicated thing about that relationship is that with some friends of the opposite sex you may feel the desire (and the desperation…) for that relationship to blossom into something more. Or not.
The other problem was because of this friendship, I rarely dated other people. (Holding out hope?…) Because here’s the thing, we also had all the drama and histrionics of a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Late night calls, late night texting, dramatic fights, yelling, the tears. I wanted something and clearly he did not. Or did he…? The whole point is, it was the relationship that didn’t want to be born. But I stayed in it, because I was hooked on the drama, and I had feelings for him, which I thought could overcome any of the fault lines and flaws.
Time is an amazing thing. It rubs out, erases, and puts a fog over feelings. It allowed me to reflect. I did a lot of emotional unpacking. I moved. And through this, I realized what our relationship was, and what it wasn’t. I realized all the negatives actually did outweigh the positives. The drama, the tears, the yelling on the phone, the chasing, none of it was worth it, and none of it is what true best friends would ever do to each other. It taught me that what we need is someone who is our equal, a partner, someone who doesn’t do drama and doesn’t want to put you through drama either.
So I am here now, in LA, dating again. Like someone who is learning to walk again after having a broken foot, I am rethinking dating and the whole process. I’ve learned now that I’m deep into my twenties, I want to get to know somebody, take things slow, and make sure we’re on the same wavelength.
I am learning a lot out here in LA! Feel free to read about my dating insights here.