Dating Advice I Would Give My Younger Self
“I thought that dating was something I could only do with guys and that once you dated someone, you were automatically in a relationship with them.”
Words by Emmie Cosgrove
Dating. It’s a weird one. It can be fun and adventurous and you can meet some amazing people. It can also be awkward, un-comfy and leave you with a sense of uncertainty. Is it a relationship I want? Do I just want to explore my sexuality? What if the person I’m on a date with is looking for something more than what I want? Currently, for me, dating allows me to meet so many people and have a fun time. The dates I go on don’t turn into long term relationships and are very ‘no strings attached’ which is what works for me. Usually, I come away from a date making a new friend rather than having a new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Despite this, my younger self had a very different view on dating. This view came from the media and entertainment I consumed; I thought that dating was something I could only do with guys and that once you dated someone, you were automatically in a relationship with them. This led me into several relationships, from the ages of 13-18, feeling terrified about being single and scared to fully accept my bisexuality, no matter how confident I seemed when speaking about being bisexual. Though I have few regrets about my past dating life and try to view the experiences I had as something to learn from, there are bits of advice I wish I could give my younger self that would have made dating easier, more fun and, at times, less painful.
If You Notice a Red-Flag, leave.
Looking back on the people I dated, some of them I should’ve cut ties with after the first few dates. Some people may as well have been waving big red flags in my face but I still stayed. I always try to see the good in people and am a strong believer in the idea that people can change. However, when it came to dating I gave certain people way too many chances, no matter how many red-flags they were showing. Bad communication, lack of empathy, and untrustworthiness are now all no-goes for me when dating someone, even if we’re not in a relationship. My younger self learnt the hard way that not everyone with these qualities will change their behaviour. You’re also not there to heal that other person, you’re there to be a team and support each other. So, if someone does or says something that’s a red flag now, I’ll cut ties immediately.
Don’t Spend Your Time Constantly Looking for ‘The One’.
I’m a die-hard romantic movie fan. From The Notebook to Wild-Child, I can’t get enough of on-screen romances. But, in each of these films, the female characters make it look like finding the one is the main goal when going out with someone. It can get tiresome and even unhealthy to constantly think that the person you’re seeing is always the one until it comes to an end and you’re on the search for the next ‘one’. The idea of ‘the one’ gives us the impression that we’re all born half until we find another half to make us whole. In real life, the one doesn’t exist. It’s an on-screen phenomenon that makes us feel incomplete until we have a boyfriend - emphasis on boy. Because, on-screen, the ‘one’ is always a guy too. There’s little room for exploration.
Dating when you feel incomplete within yourself can lead to you rushing into things and almost forcing yourself to love another person because without them you go back to being incomplete. Contrary to what we are told, I believe we are all born a whole person. Great couples acknowledge that and support each other rather than try to complete each other.
If a relationship had come to an end, I would very quickly be on the lookout for someone else to come along and make my life have purpose again. This was again because every book I read or TV show I watched was telling me that my goal in life was to find a boyfriend. So, when a boyfriend left, being young and susceptible to what the media was telling me, I would straight away be on the dating scene again. I had never allowed myself time to heal after a relationship ended because I didn’t know that was an option. I thought the only way to get over someone was through developing that same connection someone else, which is a very unhealthy thought process to have and can do a lot of damage to the people you’re dating additionally. Don’t rush into things. Learn to be okay on your own for a bit and only head back out into the world of dating and relationships if you genuinely feel like you’re ready .
It’s Okay to be Single
Following on from the last point, it honestly took me over 18 years to realise that it’s okay to be single. The thought of being single when I was a teenager scared me to death. It was so bad that I didn’t have a sense of who I was outside of a relationship. I had gotten so good at moulding myself into who the people I was dating wanted me to be that even though, on a surface level, I seemed like a very confident individual, when it came to my behaviour and the way I acted it was always shaped by who I was with at the time. If you asked me to act or be myself, I’d have no idea how to.
Relationships and dating seemed like the most important part of my life growing up because that is what I was told. Being single wasn’t an option I was okay with in the past. However, now I love being single. I have grown to love my own company. Being single has helped me realise what red-flags are, that I am complete on my own, and that rushing into things never usually ends well. It has also helped me love myself and when I do find myself dating someone I am so much better at it and have a lot more fun.
Words by Emmie Cosgrove