30 Tinder Dates in 30 Nights
“I think it’s a great idea,” said my mom when I told her my plan to go on 30 dates in 30 nights. “Really?” I replied. It wasn’t the reaction I expected from her. My friends and the rest of my family were very supportive about it also. Except my grandmother, she was very worried I might meet the wrong kind of man. Ohhh grandma… don’t you know that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 15 years???
As some of you might recall, the idea for this challenge came to me on a random Sunday morning, after I realized I needed to get out of my comfort zone. I didn’t go into it thinking I would find anyone special, I went into it mostly to see if I could do it and to see if I could learn to be better at dating. Selfishly, perhaps, I thought it would make me stronger, smarter, less likely to get hurt. But I’m sad to report that the past 30 days didn’t make me stronger or smarter about dating. I did learn many things about people, and the topic of dating, throughout my diverse discussions with the 24 guys I went out with. But I am not any less vulnerable, nor do I have thicker skin than when I started. I did however, meet someone I actually like, and have realized nothing brings up my deep rooted insecurities like dating!
I thought long and hard about sharing my insecurities with the world because it’s obviously not the best side of me. But the whole message behind my blog is that it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to be insecure sometimes. Because the only way to learn to become a better person is by being honest about who you really are. That’s step one… then you have to face your toughest critic, which is yourself, and so throughout this challenge I’ve come face to face with myself and confronted my doubts and insecurities. Now if I could only wave a wand and make them all disappear! I made a list of my top five, because that’s all we have time for. This is where I come clean…
# 1 – I’m always myself, and sometimes that’s too much
Two days before my challenge was complete, I wrote this sentence: “I feel guilty and also unsure about how to continue this challenge, I’m starting to like someone and I don’t know how to act.” I wasn’t sure if I could or should finish the 30 dates, because my heart was not in it anymore. But I pushed myself to finish because this is the toughest part for me when it comes to dating, the in-between. That part where you go from a casual friendship to having good chemistry, to liking the person. Suddenly you’re caught somewhere between dating and a relationship, and the lines of what is appropriate to do or say become blurred. Has anyone read the stupid rule book???
“Just be yourself,” was the constant piece of advice I received from all my coaches throughout this challenge. That’s not hard, I can be my self, at least for the first two or three dates when there’s not much at stake. I go out with a guy two or three times and it’s cool because everyone is just being “themselves” right? But what happens after the fourth, fifth or tenth date? Should I still be myself? Because let me tell you what that looks like… Friendly and honest, but slightly neurotic. Confident, driven and also insecure. Fun and kind, but sometimes awkward. Slightly guarded and defensive, yet optimistic and spontaneous. At some point, I go from being fun, outgoing and cute, to doubting my moves and feeling scared. And I’ve been asking myself, why is that? Perhaps it’s because…
# 2 – I jump to conclusions
We’ve all had these crazy moments in our lives where we lose our “cool” over someone. They don’t call back and we get a sour feeling in the pit of our stomachs. They don’t text back for hours or maybe days, and we start envisioning the reasons why they might no longer be interested. This is what goes on in my head: Maybe he’s seeing someone else who he likes better, or maybe he’s no longer interested in me. For most adults who have been dating longer than Justin Bieber’s been alive, this lack of response from the person we like triggers the defense alarm inside our hearts. Code red flashes through our veins alerting every part of our body. The message is loud and clear: “Close the gates!” “The British are coming!” “Abandon ship!” Whatever the phrase of choice, it means only one thing: Play defense!
And so what I do next may be my own self-fulfilling prophecy in the making. I close the gates to my heart once more, search for ways to combat the feeling of exasperation, and look for things I can control. To some people this means revisiting the roster and going out with other prospects again. For others, maybe getting hammered and then calling an ex, I’ve NEVER done this by the way…
I back away, text less, stop calling and sit inside my fort until he calls again. And if/when he does, I sometimes let my guard down again. But sometimes he doesn’t call or text as often either, maybe because my gut feeling was right, or maybe because my defensive response to what could have been him “taking things slow”, might have caused the same alarm to go off in his head! Maybe he read my signals as a sign of retreat and called his troops home.
# 3 – I care too much
When it comes to dating, I still care too much “too soon”. Am I alone here? Is there anyone else out there who has the same problem? Because maybe I did learn something… I learned that it’s all fun and cute until someone catches feelings. While on a date a few days ago, the guy, his dog and I got caught in the rain as we walked back from the coffee shop. “It’s not the rain that will get you sick,” he told me laughing, as I ran for cover, “it’s the virus in the air.” What a perfect parallel, I thought. “But that’s not what my mother and grandma told me!” I said back, from my shelter under a tree.
Maybe these women had it right, and this simple cautionary tale was meant to be a lesson on love and life: “Be careful about getting caught in the rain for too long, because there might be serious consequences.” I admire my date’s ability to walk through the rain without flinching, maybe he’s not afraid of catching something because his immune system is ready to play defense as soon as the virus hits. Whatever his reason, I’m slightly jealous that his hair doesn’t expand three times with the humidity.
So maybe the lesson is this, if you get caught in the dating rain, you’ll be okay, as long as you can get home quickly and dry off. Translation: if you catch feelings, it’s okay as long as you don’t invest or care too much “too soon”, which is usually my problem. If you stay outside for too long, you might catch something! A virus that will make you sick to your stomach. You’ll get a throbbing pain in your gut that won’t go away with Advil. It won’t help that you drink hot tea, and your mama’s whiskey, lemon, and honey remedy. You’ll be sick for days, sometimes weeks. But like a child who touches a hot stove, you’ll learn the lesson. And the next time you get caught in the rain, you’ll run like hell and find shelter. Or at the very least you’ll bring along an umbrella and some fabulous rain boots.
# 4 – I can’t avoid the butterflies
I can’t help it, the bug will always get me, I’ll rarely remember to bring an umbrella, because that’s not who I am. I’d rather feel the rain drops on my skin, even if I know that around the corner there might be a virus lurking, waiting for me to let my guard down. I’ll never stop wanting to love or believing in love. But I’m definitely afraid, more cautious, and normally wear my trench coat on rainy days. The problem is that when you wear a trench coat in the rain, you can’t feel the drops the same way. I’m constantly worried about getting wet now, and when I forget my coat, I run as fast as I can for cover, while secretly enjoying the way the drops feel on my bare skin. The problem is, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m going to get sick the next day…
# 5 – I second guess everything
Once I care about a guy, I start second guessing everything because the stakes are higher. I have officially put my heart on the line, I’ve caught the bug, I like him and I’ve let my guard down. But if he’s not on the same page, I’ll be left standing outside in the rain without an umbrella. Sure, I’ll recover after a few days and several shots of syrup, but just because there’s a cure for a sinus infection it doesn’t mean anyone wants to get one!
The problem for me begins when the guy is not clear or honest in his delivery. The ambiguity makes me very nervous. “You’re GREAT at communication, as long as he gives you the same honesty that you give him,” writes my coach Kevin, who’s known me since I was 17. Great! There’s only one problem, I can’t control the way a guy communicates with me…
“You can borrow my movie if you’d like,” my date tells me, a couple days ago. I smile awkwardly but can’t find a reply, because I don’t know if borrowing a movie from someone who I just started dating is a good idea… Is he saying he expects to see me again? Because surely he wouldn’t want to give his movie away. “Or we could just watch it together,” he tells me with a smile, after I give him no response. Phew, now I know how to answer… “I’d like that,” I say back to him.
But no matter how he delivers the message, I still get nervous, and I end up sometimes saying the wrong thing or giving an awkward response because I don’t want to seem too happy about the fact that he wants to hang out with me again. I want to be me, but if I’m entirely me, I’ll be all: “Yeah, let’s watch the movie together this weekend, I’ll make homemade popcorn!” For some reason that feels like it might scare him off, although it’s truly what I want to say, I’m just afraid it’s too soon to say it.
Again, could somebody please tell me where the freaking rule book is? And who wrote it anyway?
Maybe that guy on date 29 had it right… maybe we are all crazy, especially the Mexican ones. But that goes for both women and men. The truth is we’re all so broken up inside, that all our insecurities shine through as soon as we realize we care about someone. When a guy I’m dating doesn’t call or text, it brings back the memories of my high school boyfriend, who I waited for on my front porch for hours so we could go out on a date. He never showed up to pick me up, and the next day he called to break up with me, he had found someone better. And so I’ve learned to be afraid, the stove is hot and I’ll get burned if I touch it.
I bought a home, I have a great job, I speak two languages fluently and I have an MBA. I’m an independent 30-year-old woman, who is friendly and kind of nice! But when it comes to dating, I sometimes get lost in the questions and lose my confidence to find the answers. “Hey can we get to know each other before you decide I’m too much and run away?” That should be my first question when I meet a guy. Because I refuse to pretend to be anything else than who I am. I’m not a cool girl!
Remember what a cool girl is? She never complains, she doesn’t cry about silly things, and she definitely never gets caught in the rain without an umbrella. Or if she does, she’s probably wearing a white t-shirt… “because cool girls are above all hot”, and wear a D cup.