I don't know if this happens for everyone, but for me there have been a series of moments or experiences lately that, in reflecting, are slap-you-in-the-face-you're-an-adult moments. And as scary and weird as that sounds, it's actually incredible. Knowing what you want, who you want to be, how you want to act, love, celebrate and live is fucking empowering. I'm pretty sure I'm glowing I'm so happy. Not like college-spray-tan glowing, but like I can't stop smiling glowing.
Of all of the experiences that stick out to me where I've felt this way, dating is the most recent. The thing about dating that I've always found super annoying is that at the beginning, there is this unspoken expectation that you have to act a certain way. For women, it seems to be super polite, reserved, agreeable, charming and sexy at the same time (thanks, Steve Carell) and other forced qualities. That's exhausting and frankly, I'm too old to fake it (yes, I mean that in every way you think) anymore, so in this "adult" phase of my dating life, I've decided to approach it entirely differently by promising five things to myself:
Don't fake it: I think "that's what she said" is hilarious every single time, I have a laugh that is so loud it turns heads, sometimes I ask really (really) stupid questions, I cuss more than I should and most of the time I should count to five before I respond but, that's who I am. If I want someone to be interested in me (the real me), I need to just let it all out, right from the start.
Try new things: I live a pretty routine life (it's embarrassing, I know): wake up, grab my Starbucks, work, workout, watch bad TV and go to bed. While I thoroughly enjoy that, it's okay to switch things up by agreeing to do something different, something out of my comfort zone, to get to know someone I'm interested in.
Be honest, at all times: At the beginning, all you want to do is impress him, so you may say that you enjoy something, or know of something that you actually don't. Well, that's just ridiculous. The "getting to know you" part of the first few weeks will likely be awkward more often than it won't, but that's okay. If there is a show he likes, that you just don't, you don't have to say that you do to appease him. Even more important is when you start to get to the heavier stuff. If you want it to last, just tell the truth. It's been liberating for me to just tell it exactly like it is.
Don't give up what's important to you: Since I've started this "adult dating" thing (and since I'm a chick) I've been reading all of these ridiculous articles about "what he wants," "how to keep him happy," "dating 101" and other awful titles. One in particular that I read was a timeline of sex, and it said that he expects it on the third date. I was shocked by this. I mean, sex is great (GREAT), and once it happens the first time with someone I care for, I hope it doesn't stop, so it's not that I'm opposed to sex... I just feel like three dates is incredibly fast. I don't know what the right date number is, as I'm sure it's different for everyone, but I do know that I'd like it to feel right. For both of us.
Have fun: This may seem obvious, but I think dating often becomes stressful because people get hung up on concerns, rather than enjoying the experience as it's happening. Stay up too late laughing together, send funny texts when you're not with each other, share a meal neither of you have tried... whatever it may be, have fun with it.
I am by NO means an expert in dating, but I can tell you that with this new approach, I have not stopped smiling and I am more comfortable with it than I have ever been before.