Hey you know what’s super not easy? Human interaction.
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had friends in half-decade relationships wistfully lament on how much they miss dating, on how exciting and fun it is. They seem to gaze upon it purely through nostalgic lenses – choosing only to look at how fun and carefree it can be – on how nice it is to start knowing someone on that deeper level; on how special the first kiss felt. All that junk-y romcom stuff.
To them I’d like to serve up a very large reality check: dating as an abstract concept? Difficult as all hell. It’s anxiety-inducing, it’s nerve-wracking and for every good moment that it allows, there’s normally an equally shitty one waiting in the wings.
If there’s one thing I’ll grant, it’s that all the experiences life has thrown my way over the past few years (the good, the bad and the ugly), have been one hell of an educator. The things I’ve learned about dating in my teens and 20s is a list that I could take to #200 if I wanted to. But I’ll stick with 20, because aint nobody got time for that.
- This isn’t going to be easy: Might as well get the most important one out of the way first.
- The people who you look best on paper with are often the ones that just won’t work: It’s frustrating as all hell and it makes the end a lot more difficult to cope with, but it’s true. There’s nothing more unhealthy than carrying on something simply because in your head it seems like the right thing to do. Cliché alert: this is somewhere you should probably listen to your heart instead.
- People will leave: They’ll leave unannounced and you’re going to have to pick up the pieces on your own. It’s not fair, it’s not pretty, but it’s a part of it. The only way out is through.
- You will leave people: You’ll wake up one day and your feelings will be different. Again, not fair. Not nice. You’ll feel massively guilt and question how it’s even possible for the brain to work in that way – but rest assured, somewhere along the way it will happen. When it does, be honest. Pay the same respect to others that you’d expect to have paid to yourself.
- Don’t be mad when things don’t work out: Be sad, be upset, be angry at the situation – but don’t be mad at the person. Their honesty is paying you a very high honor.
- That said, if they cheated, all bets are off: Feel free to loathe that piece of shit for however long it takes. Hate can be a very powerful coping mechanism.
- It’s a jungle out there: Finding that genuine connection with another person is all but a lottery. The odds of getting it right the first time are very, very slim.
- Some things just won’t make sense: You can try and tackle them from a thousand different directions. You can fictionalize a hundred different conversations, but it won’t make a difference. It’s about as useful as trying to put a puzzle together with half the pieces missing. Just send it out to the universe. Trust that things will make sense to you precisely when they are supposed to, and not a moment sooner.
- Communicate: If things seem off, speak up. You might not necessarily want to listen to what your instincts are telling you, but you should never stop trusting them.
- Social media, thy name is enemy: Avoid, avoid, avoid.
- Nothing good will come from drunk-texting: Seriously. Nothing ever. Put your phone down you fuckwit. Right now. The hangover you cop from ill-informed texts will be x10 worse than the one you cop from vodka. That’s a promise.
- You’re going to feel really, really, really lonely at times: It’s natural. Especially after losing a big chunk from your life, probably in a pretty abrupt way. Don’t use other people to fill that void unless they know precisely what is going on. There are some paths that you’re simply just going to have to go down alone.
- There are two sides to every story: Remember this.
- Don’t forget your friends: They’re the ones who’ll be there with tequila and sympathy when everything falls apart.
- Meeting the parents will always be an utterly horrific thing: “Hey, I’m the dude banging that’s banging your kid. Pass the mash, yeah?”.
- Moving on is simultaneously one of the most difficult and rewarding things you’ll ever do: It’s like emerging from the world’s shittiest hangover, and suddenly recognizing that everything is going to be okay, even though it seems like you’ve spent the last month curled up on the bathroom tiles.
- People change you: Life’s a blank canvas and every time you let someone new in they’ll bring along a brush and add their own piece to your story. Might be a few brushstrokes, might be a massive chunk. Either way, they’re still a part of it – and the end result wouldn’t look the same without them.
- The faster you rise, the harder the fall: When people are all like “Yo, bro, slow the fuck down yeah?” you should really listen to them. Spend a bit of time sorting your shit out. Be a candle capable of burning through the night – not a match that is going to flame out in 3 seconds.
- It’s only going to not end this way once: There’s nothing more dangerous than refusing to take that risk. So what are you waiting for?
- Getting it wrong hurts so much precisely because getting it right feels so fantastic.
Words by HARRISON CARTWRIGHT, who wishes you all the best of luck. You’re going to need it.