I sat down to write this and thought for some time about what I had to offer you that was new. What can I tell you that I would want to read myself, that’s not fatigued, that’s not belaboured, that doesn’t tell you who to be or who not to be. And I realized, as Kerouac once so aptly put it, that I really have nothing for you but my own confusion. Nothing new but my unique experiences. I can tell you about bad dates, but in the end, what does that do for you really? Does that improve your own? I’m not so sure. I can wax poetic about theories and why it is you’re still single, but I’m single and I don’t know you so really what does that do? Not much. So what I wanted to share with you now are things that at times I wish I could convince myself of, but that I know to be true and I know to be helpful. I want you to stick with me through this and come out knowing that when you date, you need to do it for yourself and not for anyone else. Understanding the difference between “for” and “with” will be our goals. I know it takes two to tango, but it takes one person to start the music. Here are 5 thoughts to bring with you through the day. In Ingrid-speak, of course. And I hope they take you in a positive direction, with your own interests and preservation at the forefront of your adventures.
1) There is always a line of people telling you who to be and how to be it. They need to mellow out.
Everyone has an opinion courtesy of themselves regarding how you can live your own life. They’re quite good at doling out the advice, though often don’t take it themselves. While it’s usually well-intentioned and comes from a good place, sometimes you need to block that noise out until you understand that you are the only person that is living your life. That includes dating. There are going to be times that you’re with someone who wants someone else. The reality of the situation being they want themselves to be someone else. Don’t take it personally. Recognize it for what it is and that its origination is not you. Move on.
2) It is human nature to detract in order to elevate. Know when to holler back.
Hear me out. In my old age (not really but whatevs) I have learned that some people are wonderful. Hang onto those people forever, because not everyone is. The need for self-preservation creates in human nature an instinct to put others down in order to help yourself rise. You have to walk away from it. Know your friends, but know your enemies. And know it’s ok to have enemies. I’m serious. When you are dating someone and they put you down in front of other people, that has nothing to do with you. And you need to walk away. What person ever looked better by telling others that their significant other sucked? Have you thought about it that way? Healthy-minded people not only keep good people around, but they know that elevating those close to them elevates themselves through improved relationships and association. If someone you love is putting you down, they don’t love you back. They think to shine brighter they need to dull what you’ve got going on rather than appreciate how good they look in the reflection. I call bullshit. Leave that in the dust.
3) Sometimes it’s hard to understand it’s not your fault. Genuinely.
Remember the scene in Good Will Hunting? Where I’m going with this is you will encounter significant others that perhaps are innately good people. But they cannot handle accepting that they have hurt you through their own actions. And subsequently, the implication becomes that it must have been something you did that caused this hurt to happen to you. This is a toughie. It’s the rare person that has the wherewithal to step outside of themselves and see a situation for what it really is, or what it really was. Brutally hard, sometimes. Ultimately though, this can really bring your soul down. Because you leave thinking you create your own hurt, and that’s not true. And shame on anyone for making you think that. Point blank, they need to grow up and get it together. They will do that to someone else. These are “good” people but they are superficially good. We’ve all met them, a great many of us have dated them. They cannot accept they’ve inflicted hurt and intentionally or not, create scenarios that deflect and create doubt in their partner’s mind. At the end of the day, you need to know it’s not your own fault. It’s. Not. Your. Fault. Now there are things that will be your fault, for sure. But finding the balance between accepting hurt you’ve caused and that which you did not is one of the most important things I think you can ever hope to do. Because it enables you to know when you are not responsible for the pain you feel in a given situation. We all struggle with this, it’s ok to fail sometimes.
4) It’s alright to NOT be the nice one.
Ok. This one’s huge. I hardly love conflict. But at the same time, I don’t run away from it. There are things I will let go, and I’d like to think that at this point I’m better at choosing my battles (though bad manners still just grind my gears… oh no, here I go). However. It is A-OK to sometimes have to be angry with someone. I know that right now I sound like a grade school teacher. But this is something we all, especially women, need to work on every day. If we’re angry, we’re “crazy”. Frankly, that shit’s gotta stop. I don’t like to have to tell someone where to put it, but frankly if they cross a line, it is absolutely ok to let them know that it has been crossed. Now this is a two-fold situation, because sometimes not only do you have to work on mustering up the initial criticism part, but then you need to gauge their reaction and hold your ground. HOLD. YOUR. GROUND. I have totally had it out so to speak only to have a person come back and tell me that I must be nuts, I must be too sensitive, I must be anything other than correct. Because you know what? If I WAS correct then they would feel shame, and most people cannot deal with that. Similar to above, there are people that cannot handle feeling that they have done something wrong, and you know what? Tough. Absolutely know where you draw your lines, and understand why you draw them. If they are valid, then they are valid and don’t let the personification of shame that gets thrown back at you tell you otherwise. You and your points rock. That’s all she wrote.
5) Be Kind.
This may seem like we’re all over the map, but I promise it’s all related. I spoke just above about having to not be the nice one so why am I telling you to be kind? Because not being nice on occasion hardly equates to not being a kind person. Just because you have ethics and stand by them doesn’t mean that you aren’t a kind person. In fact, that is exactly what that means. When my dad was alive, I used to marvel at how he treated everyone exactly the same. I try to do that when I am with all the very different people I encounter day to day. I try my best (it’s not always easy, I totally hear you) but I know that they don’t know what kind of day I had, so I probably don’t know what kind they did. It’s that simple. So take this into your dating life and try to remember that while you date for yourself, it is a two way street. And trying to create understanding while maintaining your own principles and self, will get you where you need to be. More bees with honey as they say. I think that’s what they say.
To close out, try to just remember that things happen to everyone, and sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re very hard. It all makes you who you are, and you choose moving forward how that affects your interactions with others. Everything is an adventure and a lesson to get you to a point where you know and understand yourself so you can know and understand others. So have a great rest of your day and know that when you struggle, others do, too. And when you succeed, even when it’s small, count the victory and recognize a new element of who you want to be moving forward.
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