I was melodramatic after watching episodes of Dawson's Creek and being dumped by a guy who beat me to the punch. He was a nice person with many lovely qualities that now seem impossible to remember out of vagueness, but one resounding truth was that neither one of us was interesting enough for one another. This isn't conjecture. I know this because he told me flat out, "I just need to be more interested." I made it a point to say it was mutual.
Dating comes with some idiotic and embarrassing circumstances where you feel like you've "lost." I'm only partly proud about the things I've learned about failed "love," or the feelings I've harbored on that strange love-lust spectrum. At times, these lessons challenge us to wonder if our sanity is only hanging on the tenterhooks and our veiled self-possession isn't as resolute as we've always wanted others to perceive. (This is coming from a person that once broke into Washington Square Park at 3:00 a.m. with a best friend -- he peer-pressured me, I swear -- to talk about our love lives on a park bench, quote passages from The Prophet, only to slap each other on a mid-summer's night because he confronted me and said I had a "proper complex" and I felt like I should slap him back because he slapped me first.) [Segue]
Stop being immature because perhaps these lessons were all worth the price of admission. Instead, find a way to channel your experiences and learn from them. For example, writing myself to sanity, on a grand scale of topics, has been an inane pastime that's given me comfort and material for recollection that, perhaps, one day will provide our grandchildren of robots with the data to understand how their human ancestors processed and perceived the conflicting and complex interactions called "emotions." Everyone should have healthy ways to cope.
Disappointments from dating are often felt most deeply because they are reminders of our failings, our fears, and are confirmations of these delusions we spin in our head. NOT. I'm here to remind you, dear reader, (and myself) that many of these passing delusions should not weigh on our hearts or minds. Think of disappointments as the impetus for change and motivation.
There's no time where love is worth losing yourself over. For those rare, resplendent moments or lifelong partnerships, remember, there's a difference between "living in the moment" and insane thinking where you start hinging your dreams to some other independent human being and your mind falls into a rabbit hole, divorcing your brain from your actions. Live in the moment, become your best self with this other person. Don't do that other thing -- it isn't romantic or charming nor is it a soulful consideration for the 20-something. No situation or person will ever be worth losing the confidence and self-esteem you've spent your entire life building.
Have personal standards but be wary of expectations. Like with most things in my life, I can relate them to food. A few days ago, I was working in one of those hyper-tech cafes where you have to sign in with a mobile app. On the menu, I saw yogurt and "ancient grains." I was immediately convinced, because "ancient grains" not only sounded like a cool kids food group, but exclusive and most importantly expensive, as if these grains were waiting thousands of years just to touch my taste buds.
Turns out, if someone offers you "ancient grains" for breakfast, throw them back in their face because it's actually just granola. I obviously felt betrayed, and obviously I devoured the entire parfait. At the end of the meal, I remembered -- oh, yeah granola's amazing. It's essentially a broken down cookie disguised as morning sustenance.
Cut to the metaphor: When you first start dating someone, don't go in expecting an idealized person like the mythical "ancient grains," just go in and enjoy the delicious granola that it is. I mean, enjoy the sweet conversation.
Be weary of your expectations. Are you setting yourself up to be disappointed? Don't idealize any person. It isn't fair to you or them. This also isn't an excuse to scoop up the dregs. Hold to your standards of quality control when it comes to your men and morning breakfast cereal. If the granola is not up to snuff, there's always another bulk organic grocer around the corner.
Think about the rejection. You'll be a better person for it. In all one's egoism, being rejected by a person you weren't even head-over-heels for is a sting that only the fragile and self-inflated know. It's also a wake up call. We all know that game. Even Beyonce has songs about a guy not treating her right (WHO IS HE?). If you haven't experienced that emotional stretch just yet, I don't wish it for you. However, when relationships sever after a person takes stock in how and who they spend their time with, there's the opportunity to build a deeper understanding of values and facets that need development to become a whole and independent person. It takes great strength and significant human development to be truly vulnerable with someone.
Identify your menu of dysfunction, the things that keep your vulnerabilities at bay and habits that prevent you from personal growth. When someone decides to end things and gives you harsh feedback, do the bravest thing you can do and take ownership in how you acted, what your demeanor was like and how special you made that person feel. Sometimes you might look back and see what the relationship was really for and you might not like it. Was it a way to get over someone else, a fear of true intimacy, or being lost and not knowing what you truly wanted?
Always take inventory, no matter the circumstance, no matter if you felt as though you did everything right. Those moments are a well for personal-growth when all we're left with sometimes is "it wasn't meant to be."