Dear Captain Awkward,
First I would like to say hello! And also, thank for you being so awesome and wise. And special thanks to Feministe for introducing me to your site a few weeks ago.
This morning I was writing an email to a friend about some dating angst I’m having and I found myself wondering “What would Captain Awkward have to say about this?” and figured I’d ask. So, Captain Awkward, what do I do about my dating angst? I’m not worried about getting the dates, exactly. I’ve joined an online dating site and it’s not my first time at this particular rodeo so I sort of know the ropes. I guess the problem I have is more…once I have the date. How do I avoid overthinking things? Getting too wrapped up in people too quickly? The last two times I tried dating I wound up in relationships with the first guy I met IRL (granted, the second relationship was pretty great and lasted three years so I clearly wasn’t doing everything wrong). Obviously, I told myself, I need to get better at DATING. I need to learn to be pickier (or less pickier?) and more casual, meet with more men before settling down.
Then, very recently, I went on my first date in over 3 and a half years. (I dated my most recent ex for 3 years, we were in love, it was wonderful, I thought he was “the one” and then he fell out of love and broke up with me 8 months ago, in case you were wondering why the recent dating gap.) Miracle of miracles – the gentleman was even cuter in person, charming, sweet, intelligent, funny. We hit it off fantastically, and ended the night promising that we would definitely have to get together again, though we didn’t make any concrete plans. He texted me a couple days later just to say hi, I texted him today regarding some story he’d told me on the date. . . but no 2nd date yet. It hasn’t even been a week yet, so this is no big deal, right? And yet. . . I am starting to get Crazy Brain. Crazy Brain is not being helped by all the annoying and sometimes conflicting and definitely unsolicited advice I’m getting from well-meaning friends: Women and men should be equal and shouldn’t play games, but don’t call, text, email him, let him always initiate. Don’t be afraid to ask him out but don’t make plans for Date #2 as I’d been the one to suggest we meet in person the first time (though he did initiate contact with me first, for whatever that’s worth) and now it’s his “turn”. Take things slow (Um…too late for this. When I said we hit it off, I meant we REALLY hit it off. If you get my drift.). Date other people, but don’t get too “loosey-goosey” (I’m actually not entirely sure what this means). Meanwhile, my gut is telling me to just go for it. If I know what I want, why not try and get it? (Even if that “it” is just a 2nd date.)
I guess my question for you is: How do I decide what to do, who to listen to? How do I know what is best for me to do, in this situation or in the future? How can I get my brain[loins] to step away from the ledge and chill the fuck out already? To be honest, I suppose I’m also looking for someone to tell me, for once, that what I’m doing or what I want to do is RIGHT, so long as it feels right to me. But I know I have a problem of letting my brain[heart/loins] get way ahead of things and I know that’s not really a good thing.
Thank you for any pearls of wisdom you can throw my way. I’m going to go back and reread everything you’ve tagged “dating” to see if that won’t help a little.
Dear Serial Monogamist:
Thanks for the nice words! As for your question, maybe we’re exactly the same? I’m sorry, I have no idea how to take it slow with dating. Intern Paul and I turned a one night stand into an almost 5 year stand (I think? Intern Paul, can I get a fact-check?) The major boyfriend before that? Same deal. There were plenty of times that didn’t happen, or I tried to turn what should have been a short-term thing into a long-term thing, but I guess I’m in the camp of “When it’s right, it’s easy, and things just fall into place, and you don’t have to worry about who asked who out last.”
- I would resist, at this stage, getting all up in each other’s Social Media. It’s too easy to obsess, and the more potential points of contact you have the more tempted you are to use all of them at once (or feel ignored via all of them at once).
- Tell your loins to chill out. People have lives and when they meet someone great it sometimes takes some rearranging to have enough time to really incorporate a new dating partner. If you go a week or two without a date, that is normal and okay. It means he is a person with a life and he had plans, and you want someone to have a life. If you go two weeks without any contact at all, not even a quick text, THEN you are allowed to feel crazy, okay?
Look, I hate The Rules and He’s Just Not That Into You and Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus and every single dating advice column in every single goddamn glossy woman’s magazine. Just fucking ignore it all. Be a person, go about your life, stop worrying if people like you (you can’t control that), so evaluate if you like them and are having a good time. And if you catch yourself feeling crazy, then go back to 1)Is he as awesome as my friends? 2) If I take a step towards him does he take a step towards me, or do I feel like I’m chasing?