I’ve always had my sights set on my career. I decided I wanted to be a journalist in third grade. I was researching colleges at 12. I’ve always known what I want to do, and I’ve always been confident I would get there. (This paragraph was not meant to be a humblebrag, but I’ll take it.)
Because of my high aspirations (I used to tell everyone I’d be the Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue one day), my mom always said that boys were intimidated by me. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was a senior in high school, and to this day, I’ve never had a real serious relationship. (I’m 22, so I’m not exactly pushing for it just yet!)
I always brushed off my mom’s comments. At the time, I didn’t really comprehend what exactly it meant to be intimidated by someone, so I thought my mom was saying I was some scary beast terrifying men away. I also thought that I was normal. A lot of women are ambitious and career-driven. Look at our current set of women in Congress, the women of the Oscars and the Golden Globes, the women making waves in STEM. I surely cannot be the only woman out there who wants to eventually rule the world. Plus, it never seems that any of these women have a hard time finding a partner.
It wasn’t until this summer that I fully comprehended the difficulty of dating when you’re so focused on your career. I met a guy on Hinge, and we hit it off. He was funny, went to a great college, and seemed interested in more than hooking up (something I don’t find a lot on dating apps anymore). We decided to go on a date to a restaurant near my apartment. While on the date, we discussed a lot of things. How he had no idea what Vice was (seriously!), what his college was like, and our career paths. He was a few years older than I am, so I assumed he would have at least a grapple on what he wanted to do with his life.
When it came time to talk about my career, he got extra quiet. I explained that I was still in school, working two other jobs, and interning three days a week. I was hoping to get a job that allowed me to continue writing about the topics I loved and allowed me to explore other avenues, such as graphic design and social media marketing. Easy enough, right?
He looked at me blankly, somewhat confused, and maybe even kind of annoyed, and said:
“Wow, you really have your sh*t together.”
I remember tilting my head and saying, “um, yeah. I guess.”
The date pretty much ended at that point, and he never texted me back. While I could write this off as a one-time thing or just that he was not that great of a guy, I began remembering other times when I felt this wave of superiority with a date. It was almost as if I felt inadequate because I was well-equipped for my future while he was not.
Since that date this summer, I began researching and putting tips into practice to help myself feel confident in my successes and my motivation rather than feel as if it pushes men away. Here’s what I’ve learned and what I wish every woman knew about dating, especially in 2019:
1. Don’t settle
It can be really easy to feel like you have to settle for a guy who doesn’t treat you how you deserve because you’re ambitious and driven. Don’t.
While having standards can be a downfall if you’re getting too specific, it’s OK to want someone who is trustworthy, smart, and educated. Wanting to be with someone who challenges you and inspires you does not make you a bitch. Remember that.
2. Talk about your successes
It can feel like a juggling act when you’re on a first date. Do I sound like I’m bragging about myself? How do I sound impressive but not overpowering? Should I say that I’m going after a big promotion right now?
Yes, you should! As Tina Fey said in Mean Girls, you shouldn’t have to dumb yourself down for guys (or women!) to like you. If the person you’re on a date with can’t handle that you just got a raise or took on another volunteer gig, that’s their problem, not yours. They should be excited and proud of you. “Damn girl, you really got it together” is how it should come out.
3. Understand there is nothing wrong with you
I’ve spent a lot of my dating years (which hasn’t been all that long) constantly wondering what was wrong with me. I always assumed there had to be some reason that men don’t want to go on a date with me or call me back. Recently, I’m learning just how powerful that negative self-talk can be. Just because someone doesn’t want to go on a date with you does not mean there is anything wrong with you.
Think about it. Imagine one of your friends asks you on a date. You would probably say no because you don’t see him or her as someone you would be in a relationship, but it also doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with them. It’s a preference, and that’s OK. Just because someone doesn’t want to date you does not mean you’ve been cursed. It’s all about who we click with.
4. Meet A LOT of people
It’s easy to go on one date and decide men are trash. You’ll never find love. Call up your mom and say you’re moving across the country because all the men in your city are taken or jerks. Been there, done that.
One bad date does not have to decide the fate for tons more. Go out of your comfort zone. Meet that guy from Hinge for coffee or talk to the woman from your spin class. You don’t have to go on every date, but let yourself have fun. Not every person you go on a date with needs to be your eventual husband or wife or turn into a serious, long-term relationship.