Let me begin by saying I am no man expert (man-pert, if you will). In fact, I’m not very good with men (despite having my first boyfriend in Grade 4 – we held hands). I’m terrible at the “game.” Usually, my past boyfriends have started out from friendships. BUT what I do know is mental illness, especially how it interacts with dating. It’s a new world of dating out there but even if you do have a mental illness you deserve love too! That being said, you really need to go out there with a plan, a plan to protect yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually otherwise this new dating game can really derail you! And that’s no fun. Here are some tips and tricks I think will help you before you dive into the crazy world that is dating in 2018.
First, let’s talk about the reality of dating in 2018. Due to technology, people are a bit more disposable (that includes you! No matter how special you think you are). People have hundreds of options literally at their fingertips and for better or worse you can’t necessarily get emotionally involved. Men may not be ready for a relationship or want one, but that doesn’t mean they’re not going to message you or sleep with you. You can’t really take what men say to heart.
Timing is also a huge factor – with everyone having access to so many people not a lot of people are doing the self-reflection needed to perhaps take a break and are instead pursuing what they can get – short term pleasure. Technology can also make you feel closer faster, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It can make you feel safe to let your emotions grow, only to end in heartbreak. And then there is ghosting. Ghosting was really always a thing but instead of ignoring their messages you simply just didn’t call back. Technology now makes that rejection more tangible in a sense (seeing that unread message or seeing them active on social media but ignoring you) and you know he’s likely off to his other choices and you just didn’t make the cut. For all these reasons your emotions can really be toyed with and you need to be prepared.
Make sure you’re strong and in a good place. Looking for reassurance? Support? Someone to help you get out of your rut? Someone to essentially rescue you? Tell you that “you is kind, smart and important?” Dating is not the answer. A man will not complete you or save you and if he does this might cause problems down the line. Take the time alone to work on yourself and your mental health. You should never be looking for happiness in a relationship. It’s also important to have a thick skin with the nature of dating in 2018. You cannot go out there being vulnerable.
Know your weaknesses. No one is perfect and we all have our relationship/dating faux pas. For me, I tend to fall too quickly. I’m pretty much that excited puppy dog that wants to play with everyone. As you can imagine that can be a horrible mindset in today’s dating climate. Acknowledge your weaknesses and make sure you’re taking them into account, especially if they can make you susceptible to heartbreak.
Decide what you want. Do this even before you get on the apps or give out your number in person. Assess your situation. Are you looking for fun (totally okay!) or a serious boyfriend? This will cut out a lot of the confusion and really help you sort out your emotions and help you figure out what’s acceptable. It will also help you avoid getting hurt. Personally, I would not recommend dating apps if you are looking for something more serious, try the dating websites for men who are looking for relationships.
Be Realistic. Men are going to ghost. This is the reality. But before you cry tears of loss, stop to assess. Did you really like him that much? Did you even know him that well? Did you have anything in common? Were you attracted to him really or the idea of him? Were there signs it wasn’t going to work anyway? (He might be gay, married, racist, too young, too old, looking for a VISA, of another religion, on the rebound etc. – I’ve been in most of these situations DM me for details) I think there is also a tendency with depression, anxiety and OCD to only see certain facts. It can be overwhelming at times, why are all these men playing games? But have you done any rejection yourself? Look at the entire picture of your dating journey and all the positives and negatives. Learn your lessons and accept it all as an experience.
Listen to what he is saying. There’s a scene in How to be Single where the charming womanizing bartender swears you can be honest with a woman and she still won’t hear you. He then walks around the bar to women he’s sleeping with and says things straight up to them such as “I’m really not interested and will never settle down with you.” The women giggle in response and seem oblivious to what he’s saying. Now, it won’t always be this obvious but a man often drops hints to what he’s looking for. If he’s asking what you think of casual dating or isn’t asking for your number or not setting an actual date to see you – he’s probably not that interested. Listen to what he’s getting at and act accordingly.
Try to look at how you will feel in hindsight. This point is really just about sex. How will you feel about it afterwards, especially if he ghosts? Think twice. Is this the kind of guy who might ghost after sex? Will it devastate you if he bounces? If it will, don’t give up the goods.
Don’t take things personally. This is one I definitely struggle with, especially with my mental health issues. Your thoughts can really spiral out of control, what’s wrong with me? Why didn’t he like me? Am I not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough? Firstly, you have to accept not every guy is going to like you (and you’re not going to like all of them! There is power in realizing that), secondly it’s not always you. Maybe it’s not the right time for him and even he doesn’t know it. Maybe you truly just aren’t a good match, better you find that out sooner than later. Again, don’t take things to heart and you should be fine.
Have fun (Okay, 9 Tips & Tricks). Though dating in 2018 can be daunting, take breaks and enjoy yourself! Delete the apps for a period if you have to and come back to it. It’s also a way to find out what you want in a partner and learn about yourself. You’ll only be single for so long (God willing) so create memories, have jokes and get stories you can tell your children (or warn them about). In the meantime, live your life, your best life, in between these men and put your mental health first! I promise when you do find the one, it will be easy. There will be no questioning, no ghosting and no ambiguity. And the more mentally healthy you are when he comes along, the better!
A Warning: Some men, even though it may have ended badly, will want to stick around as “friends” even some as “friends with benefits” – I kid you not. It is a tempting situation but you really have to ask yourself who this benefits. Is this even a real friendship? Does he add value to your life? Will this deter you from finding the right one? Is he just keeping you around as a spare? Is it contributing to your mental health? Do what is best for you and only that.
A great rule if you’re feeling depressed about a dating situation gone wrong: The 5×5 Rule – if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes upset by it. Trust me when I say you won’t think about most of these guys in 6 months to a year, especially if you keep dating. They will just become a story. Honestly, I give them all nicknames (The Prince, Barrie, Persia, The Politician etc.), it helps with giving them less value and more hilarity/lesson learned over time.
Watch “He’s Just Not That Into You” for dating hilarity and some more hard dating advice. I actually had to re-watch recently to give myself a refresher. I own it on DVD.