What could I know about dating, right? I’m 22. I’m the first to admit dating confuses me, as it does many. I’m pretty sure online dating wouldn’t exist if everyone knew how to pair off on their own.
Can you imagine? Just being able to do this organically in an efficient matter? In this imaginary world, little girls just point to boys on the playground and they’ve mated for life — like penguins.
No instead, we’re left with unlabeled “things” — in a world where no one can quite pinpoint exactly what a “thing” is but everyone knows they are definitely a thing. Didn’t quite follow that last part? Exactly.
So, we patiently wait until we’ve gone on “enough” dates with a single human to approach the awkward, “What are we…?” conversation. And then in due time when it inevitably dissipates, we’re back at square one, swiping through a seemingly endless stream of mirror selfies and poorly crafted bios.
Which brings me to everything I have learned over 22 years: dating is hard.
I could leave it at that.
But through the entire series of Sex and the City, Andrea Silenzi’s Why Oh Why podcast, Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance, my own personal experience, Taylor Swift songs, and countless viewings of movies like 500 Days of Summer and When Harry Met Sally, here is what I have come up with:
1. On a first date, if they’re asking a bunch of questions, it’s actually a bad thing! It means that the conversation isn’t naturally flowing (Why Oh Why).
2. If you’re meeting through a dating app, it’s actually better to meet early on, rather than chatting for a long time. That way you can see what your dynamic is like in person (Aziz).
3. There always seems to be that *one* person that creeps back into our lives (i.e. Mr. Big in SATC). But that doesn’t mean that they are “the one.”
4. Being truly open to something means being vulnerable — and willing to sit out on the curb in the rain with your heart in your hand.
5. Breaks… more like BreakS. (FRIENDS — Ross and Rachel. Enough said.)
6. Going on exciting dates can help you like a person more than a standard dinner/coffee date — you associate the adrenaline rush with your feelings for a person. (Read Modern Romance for more on this phenomenon — it’s actually pretty interesting).
7. Often times one person likes the other person more — and it sucks on both sides (500 Days of Summer — and personal experience).
8. You shouldn’t stay with someone you’re not crazy about just because they check some boxes or sound good on paper.
9. You also deserve better than being with someone who falls anywhere short of being absolutely crazy about you, too (Half of My Heart — John Mayer).
9.5. But watch out for the people who are just straight up crazy.
10. Your ex is an “ex” for a reason.
21. Sometimes you just have to Shake It Off and sing Our Song Fearlessly with someone in your Wildest Dreams when you’re 22 because You Belong With Me… and because let’s be real: sometimes Taylor Swift songs are annoyingly relatable.
22. 22 is too young to settle.
There’s this country song called, Settlin’, and one of the first lines is “don’t even know why I try when I know how it ends… lookin’ like another we could be friends.” The song is all about not settling, and I can’t get it out of my head lately.
At 22, I’m not ready to settle for mediocre.
As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.”