this week on the well written women, i confess some of my past dating experiences and how i've learned from them. please tell me i'm not the only one who has messed up dating a time or two... ~~~~

This week I got an email from a young lady who asked the following: What are some mistakes you made in past dating relationships that you’ve learned from?

My initial response: How much time do you have?

Then I came up with a “Top Five” list. It’s kind of ridiculous that I’ve made enough mistakes to actually have a list. If you “control + F” the phrase “oops” onto the archives of my life, you will probably get 1,000 results. BUT I believe in finding the good amongst the gross; hopefully this helps some of you avoid making the same mistakes I did.

1)     Compromising myself. This one is numero uno because it is most important. Women are [usually] born with nurturing, compassionate, caring spirits. We love to please, we love to be accepted, we love to care. This sometimes works against us when we find Mr. Not Right But Still Really Awesome. We too often martyr our own expectations in a relationship because “he’s a really good guy” and we forget what it is that we stand for. I did this over and over again, and each time I got my heart broken because he ended up being morally different than me. And every time I coaxed myself out of a break-up, I vowed to “never do that again.” Pieces of me – some of the most important pieces of me – eroded away slowly at the hand of someone who tried to change me. Ladies, do not compromise yourself for anyone who can’t support and uplift who you are. You are already “significant” without an “other”; you shouldn’t need to change for anyone.

2)     Forgetting my girls. I’m sure you all have had that friend who gets a boyfriend and then goes “POOF!” That was me. I still feel bad that I ditched my very best friends for a dumb boy. No boy is worth sacrificing female relationships for. In fact, I would say that female relationships make you a better girlfriend/fiancé/wife. We need women to talk to and process everything with. I always consider my best friends a “buffer” when it comes to the ridiculous things I think I have to say to my boyfriend. They always talk me off the cliff so that I don’t unleash ALL the crazy onto him. They help me see the bigger picture and they validate my feelings while not letting me believe lies. Don’t forget your girls; you need them more than you know.

3)     Ignoring red flags. This is a big one. If you feel a tug in the pit of your stomach that tells you something isn’t right, then something probably isn’t right. And that something is probably a big something. I once didn’t question the fact that the guy I was seeing never let me come see his house, even after months of dating. I felt that tug, but I stifled it with all of the justifications that I made for him in my head. I’m pretty smart and I can convince myself of anything. So I talked my way out of it and I kept on dating him. And once I met his live-in girlfriend, that tug in my stomach felt like a cannonball wound.

4)     Airing out dirty laundry. It took me a long time to learn how to respect my boyfriend in his absence. The answer is simple; don’t talk bad about him. Ever. Even when you’re super mad because OH-EM-GEE HE DIDN’T CALL ME BACK YET, stick with the “if you can’t say anything nice” model. Nothing hurts a man more than disrespect; it is at his core to desire to be respected. As I said before, we women need to talk and process things. This is fine, but it can be done without portraying your man in a bad light. He deserves to be well-liked and well-respected amongst your friends and family, especially since you like and respect him. He deserves to never be slandered by your tongue.

5)     Using him to heal my oh-so-wounded soul. A boy is many things, but he should never be a band-aid to your deep, underlying issues. Singleness is one of the most powerful medicines in the universe. It’s like grape cough syrups. Tastes like crap, makes your world look funny, but boy does it make you feel like a new woman! I used to hate being single. I hated the way people looked at me like I had a terminal disease. So instead of breathing in the vapors of Singleness, I dated boys out of desperation. I needed a cure to my loneliness so instead of becoming self-sufficient and independent, I became clingy and awkward. I filled my mind with thoughts of boys who were “meh” at best, and I pretended I didn’t feel the ache in my soul for something more fulfilling. Many a boy got injured on my path to self-discovery, and that’s an awful thing to live with as well. Things finally tilted in such a way that I literally could not have gotten a date if I truly was dying, and I spent some time discovering me, figuring out who I am. I’m still awkward, for the record. But I’m less clingy. It’s important to find out who you are, my dears. And it’s even more important that you do it starting now.

 

I wish this list ended at five, but you get my drift. I wouldn’t be who I am in large part without some of these mistakes, but I sure would be a lot skinnier. (I eat when I mess up. It’s kind of my thing.) So please, if you’re making any or all of these mistakes, you are not dating correctly. And dating’s like racecar driving; you should probably at least attempt to do it correctly before you spin out of control.