Some people think dating is fun.
When those people say something ridiculous like that to my face, I usually respond with, “Which part is fun? Answering interview questions? Or maybe you mean the awkward moment when the bill arrives? Or perhaps you’re referring to those days afterwards when you’re wondering if he will call slash if you want him to? Ooh, I know, you probably mean the ‘He’s not at all what he looked like in his online pics and omg do I look like my online pics?’” And then I overturn the table we’re sitting at and storm out.
Ok, not really. But I do think about doing that someday. Instead, I usually remind myself that the person saying this has been in a relationship or married for so long that they have forgotten all the grimy details. Or that it’s my mother and she means well.
But then the other day—after a good date, of course—I started to think about all of the good things that come with the dating territory. And not just the desired result, but the actual good things that come from the dating process. Because for many of us, dating is a lot like waxing: we don’t have to do it, but what’s the alternative?
So while it comes with its fair share of nightmares, there are some good things that can be gleaned from being out on those mean dating streets and today we’re gonna focus on those because sometimes we all need a little pep talk, right? Right.
1. Dating is a good reminder that you’re interesting.
You know those stories that your friends have long gotten sick of hearing? Or those life details that people who’ve known you forever take for granted? Well, guess what, Sugarplumb: people you’re on dates with have never heard them before! This is the silver lining to having to answer “So, where did you grow up?” because as you start to share the mundane details of your life, oftentimes you’ll realize they’re not so mundane after all…at least to new ears. Same goes for describing your job or your hobbies, take a beat and hear how great and interesting you are and be proud of the life you’ve created. Nothing like a fresh audience to help you see your life in a new light.
2. Dating makes you feel brave.
Sometimes on my way to a date, I look in the mirror and think how brave it is to throw yourself into these situations; how much guts it takes to put yourself out there online and off, through bad date after bad date. Brave or crazy. But let’s go with brave for now.
3. Dating can help you get over your last relationship.
Well, kinda. While going on dates doesn’t automatically cure all of your breakup woes (that’s what wine is for), if you pay attention, you can have small moments of clarity and healing. Example: my last beau was a bad communicator. Like truly, terrible. He had a bad habit of leaving his phone at home, or showing up 30 minutes late, or an hour early, or forgetting plans he’d made just days prior. I know, how’d I let this gem go? The point is, about a week after a recent blind date, I got a text from the guy I’d gone out with that said, “Hey, I know last week we talked about maybe meeting up sometime tomorrow night, but my work trip just got extended so I won’t be back. Maybe Sunday?” Here’s the kicker: I hadn’t even remembered that we’d discussed meeting up, but boy did I take notice of the fact that he not only remembered, but in advance communicated that it wasn’t going to work. True, this is pretty much basic manners, but if you’ll let yourself see the good even in guys you’re not super into, it can help get over the bad in the ones you’ve had to let go of.
4. Dating helps you discover new hot spots.
Going on dates expands your knowledge of your city’s neighborhoods, watering holes, and things to do. Several of my now-favorite spots have been discovered on bad dates, so even if the conversation is lacking, you can at least walk away with knowing a new killer place to get a Boulevardier. And sometimes that’s a pretty good trade off because relationships come and go but cocktails are forever…right?
5. Dating gives you some killer stories.
Don’t even pretend that you laugh as hard at anything as you do bad date stories. Sure, while you’re experiencing them they can be a bit awkward or excruciating, but retelling these gems can be entirely worth it. A often retold story in my circle is when my friend Carly went on a second date with a guy she was pretty into who said he wanted to cook for her. She got to his house and he had made beef stew. Not terrible except that Carly is vegan. The best part was that he didn’t pivot and order takeout, he simply said, “Well, maybe you can pick out the meat?” Let’s just say there was no 3rd date and we still refer to him as Beef Stew. My friends and I usually encourage each other to say yes to dates because at the very least it will be a great story.
6. You can actually make new friends and important connections.
Sure, no one says yes to a date hoping that it turns into a new pal or colleague, but an upside of dating is that even if it’s not a romantic connection, it can be another connection that benefits you both. I went out the other day with a guy who ended up being a really awesome mentor in a new hobby of mine. I believe this is a silver lining, no?
7. Dating can help you hone what you’re looking for.
Everyone reminds us daters of this, but it’s probably because it’s true. Going on dates reveals things you didn’t even realize were priorities as well as qualities you discover are deal breakers. This can save you a lot of future heartbreak because you can better articulate what you’re looking for and what you value in a relationship. Huzzah for open mindedness.
So chin up, daters. Put that lucky shirt back on, throw on some heels and live to date another day.