When I was single, I was obsessed with getting dating advice from my married friends. I figured their success with coupledom could teach me a thing or two. Now that I’m straddling the single-married line, I see the problem with that point of view: Once you find someone, it’s easy to forget how hard it can be out there.
Advice is often dispensed with a certain forgetfulness. So, before my memory of being single fades, I’m gonna tell it like it really is. The most offensive thing that married people say is: “You’ll find someone when you stop looking.”
This statement is ridiculous. In what other area of life do we apply this kind of logic? Do we find a job when we stop applying? Or a pair of shoes when we stop shopping? If we want to find a loving relationship, how is shutting down the search a wise move?
I’ll admit, before I met my boyfriend, I would “stop looking” a few times a year. I would delete all my online dating profiles, spend nights at the gym, and go to dinner with friends. I would walk around the city wearing big sunglasses and headphones. Unsurprisingly, I wouldn’t meet anyone new. Of course, this was not what I wanted, and I wasn’t doing myself any favors by following this advice.
When people say love will happen when you’re not looking, what they really mean is to relax. One of my worst dating mistakes was being too ready when I was out. I was always looking for that rom-com connection, that instant attraction that would magically turn into love by the end of a song on the dance floor. Most of the time, I probably just ended up looking kind of desperate.
I met my boyfriend at work when I was going through a breakup. So, technically, I wasn’t “on the hunt” at the time our paths crossed. In fact, I didn’t even think of him as a prospect because I was nursing a heartache.
Because he was a coworker, I was super relaxed around him. I wasn’t CeCe the Single Girl, I was just me. And, by the time I decided to flirt with him, I found out he was already attracted to me.
When my married friends weren’t instructing me to stop looking, they were asking if I was making myself available enough. Of course, this piece of advice made me second-guess my not-looking strategy. So, I’d reactivate my dating profile, skip the gym in favor of happy hour, and confidently strut around the city wearing an approachable smile.
When it came to making myself available, my friends weren’t entirely wrong. I did actually meet a few men that way. There was the guy I met in a coffee shop who took my card but never called. And, one guy I dated for a hot minute before he suddenly went MIA. The difficulty of opening yourself is that you face rejection again and again.
Part of my problem was my inclination to reject before I could be rejected. But, when I began to embrace vulnerability, I was more available than ever. Allowing myself to be available without giving up my amazing independence was key. And, that willingness helped to secure my current relationship.
Figuring out how to make my married friends’ advice work for me wasn’t easy, but it can be done. You can be both not looking AND available.
Wedded friends like to tell you to enjoy the single life while smiling adoringly into each other’s eyes. And, it’s time to call BS on this.
Here’s how this advice usually happened to me: I’d share one of my single-girl horror stories, and they’d promise me I actually had it really good. The “till death do us part” bit they’d signed off on? Well, it was just terrible.
But, they couldn’t fool me. I was sure they went home to their partner after their conversation with me and sighed with relief that their single days were a thing of the past.
I get that marriage isn’t rosy all the time, and I believe that being single can be amazing. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t prepared for the hard work of a relationship when I finally found myself in one. But, focusing on the challenges only tells part of the story.
As they say, hindsight is 20/20. I suppose it’s easy for married folks to look back and see how their dating woes led them to their spouse eventually, and then wrap it all up into little bumper sticker-like advice. But, for those who are trying not to be discouraged by dating, it’s helpful to be allowed to be irritated and frustrated at times. It’s also helpful to know that the advice of married people isn’t the Holy Grail.
So, what cliché dating tips do you get that drive you nuts?
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