5 Lessons I've Learned From the Guys I've Never Dated
I would like to start this post by saying that i've wanted to write this blog post for a very long time. Then recently Verily magazine published "What i learned From the Men I Never Dated" (read here) and i took it as a sign to write about my own experience and the lessons taught to me by the men i have encountered.
These days when i am asked the dreaded, "how long have you been single?" question, i am usually very hesitant. You see the minute i utter the number, which happens to be a double digit number there is usually a gasp, widened eyes, a shocked expression, or some form of frown. The conversation then shift to, "don't you want to date?", or simply ends at, "wow". To be honest i do not blame anyone for these expression or questions, i too am sometimes shocked by how long it has been and can sometimes not believe that i am living life so far from the path i thought i would be on. Nevertheless a sista moves on with her life and does not think twice about what other people might think.
However, the one assumption that i think many women (and men) who have been single for an extended amount of time have to unfortunately deal with, is that not having numerous exclusive relationships throughout our time on this earth equates to being naive about romantic relationships, and ill equipped to have a successful relationship. And let me tell you if there is anything that irks me about singleness assumptions, it is this very assumption. Maybe that is why i have wanted to write this post for so long, because i know this assumption exist and is probably the reason why so many singles get so much unwarranted advice, sad looks, and prayer vigils about their single status. Society has put too much emphasis on quantity of dates and not enough on quality of relationships.
This is exactly why everyone has 5 dating apps in use at once, and why depression ensues if a month goes by and there are no potential dates on the calendar. In any case we should never discount those quiet months, and there is a-lot of power held in the preliminary stage of a potential relationship. I have had many conversations with women (and men) who wish they spent more time getting to know an ex before they jumped into an exclusive relationship. Because often times once hidden character flaws or non-negotiables behaviors are often revealed after some time. The best form of advice or critique that should be expressed to singles is that no path is equal and that finding a partner should be seen as a marathon attempt not a sprint to the finish line. Sprints are quick and do not allow for leisure, marathons on the other hand are lengthy and give the runner the ability to take in everything as it comes.
There are five rules that have kept me open to opportunity, and have allowed me to protect my values and worth. These five are not by any means biblical truths, but beliefs that i know and think should be written on the heart of every single person. Hard lessons are often our best teachers, and whether you realize it or not and whether you date frequently, or once a year or not at all, you are still learning about who you are on your journey and what you are open to. I encourage you to look at your own encounters, as well as the stories of others and come up with your own list. you might be surprised by how much you have learned, and how that knowledge has been your saving grace.
I can not stress how much knowing myself, my needs and wants have saved me from heart break. When we do not know and LOVE ourselves we leave ourselves open to crossed boundaries and distress. Getting to know yourself is not a one month endeavor, its a lifetime journey that only happens when we intentionally spend those quiet months with ourselves, instead of running away it.
Words + Actions
We are bombarded with words on a daily basis. Everyone has something to say, but not everyone acts on these words. The same goes for actions, if someone's words are not aligned with actions (consistently) does it even matter? Words and actions are a married team that are often consistent in nature. If you find yourself trying to figure our the meaning of a text, or map out someones actions, you're working too hard. Words and actions are the keys to any successful relationship.
Flattery will only go so far
Someone once told me that any fool can give a compliment but only a wise man understands the weight of his words. Meaning that anyone can compliment or flatter, but not everyone cares to be accountable for their words. Compliments are nice but when they verge on being inauthentic, take notice. Flattery will only get you so far is a close relative to words+ actions. There should be meaning and intention behind every word spoken, if not the flattery will eventually become stale.
Know your Non-Negotiables
Everyone has non-negotionables, and i am not talking about a persons height or physique. I am talking about the things you absolutely can not live with or without. They are non-negotiable for the very reason knowing yourself is important, boundaries. Non-negotiables create a clear boundary line that protects us from being doormats in constant distress. If you create them, you must abide by them, or say bye to anyone crossing that boundary.
I adopted this one from the verily article because it is the biggest lesson i've learned and value. Never turn a blind eye to how a potential treats those around him. Colleagues, friends, family members, and especially random strangers. i can not tell you how disappointing it is to think a guy has all the boxes checked only to notice that he consistently treats others like shit. And the key word being consistently, because we have all had bad days and said and done things that aren't a representation of who we are. But if there is a pattern, pay attention to it because one day those sarcastic comments might be turned towards you. This same advice goes for the phrase the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. What are the characteristics of the people your potential call "best friends". If his or her friends make you cringe with embarrassment that too should be taken into consideration.