dating in your 20s

March Advice Column

Dear Dateable,

What makes for good first date conversation aside from the usual work/school/family prattle?

DD:You want to keep a first date light and although talking about tv show and movies may seem silly you can learn a lot about a person’s immaturity level and sense of humor by what they put on their screens. You can also find common ground by talking about shows, actors, and current events in entertainment.

Family is usually a common topic as mentioned in the question, but friends are also important to talk about. You want to know the type of people your date surrounds themselves with. You can also learn the role they play in a friend group such as jokester, planner, or the one everyone goes to for advice; its good to see how other people view and value your date and you might appreciate them more by learning so.

When you start talking about friends you also learn what your date does with their free time. Do they go to bars every weekend, trips to a nearby city or concert, or a laidback game night at a friend’s house? This helps you figure out if you like to do the same things and also gives you ideas for future dates if you do.

A common topic for early dates is talking about travels, they’re exciting and unique from day to day life. There seems to be a trend for millenials to be travel bugs so daters can usually find common ground there.

 

Topics to stay away from:

Past Relationships. Don’t be the idiot who talks about his ex and all the things he hated about her or the rude girl who talks about all the other dates she had this month. You both know you’ve dated other people but they aren’t here so stop bringing them up!

Dating Pet Peeves. If you start ranting about things you hate about dating profiles you’re going to seem picky and negative. You can also potentially insult your date. Sure, you won’t want to date someone who annoys you but you should find out the reasoning of why something might be on their profile before ruling them out.

Dark Past and Politics. It would of course be important for your significant other to learn about past experiences that have shaped you even if they aren’t happy memories but the first date is not the time to go into details. Controversial topics like politics and religion are also conversations that should be saved for a later date once you already feel comfortable with someone. Remember, light and fun is the name of the game in the beginning! 

 

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Love on a Budget

I think people often mistake expensive dates for romance. You don’t have to a fancy restaurant every weekend, in fact idea number one is

Cook In instead of dining out. Yes usually grocery shopping is more expensive than just one evening dining out but the food you get can be used for multiple meals so at the end of the day you’re definitely saving money. Cooking together is a great bonding experience too, you learn how particular your partner is about materials, measurements, and sanitation as well as learning what frustrates or stresses them out. Creating a meal together allows you to feel like a united team accomplishing a goal together and the shared memory is a great building block in a relationship.

It’s much easier to find free things to do over the summer such as hiking, parks, and finding some water to splash around in. However low key or intense you want your adventure to be, you can find a good fit! Back in high school when everyone was just learning how to drive, I loved late night adventures just driving around, singing along to the radio, and feeling the wind on your skin. You can make amazing memories out of nothing as long as you’re with people you love and the good vibes flow.

Look into events going on in your neighborhood since the tickets are usually cheap or free! There might be a cover band at a brewery, the local theater putting on a play, or a food expo at the museum across town.You can have fun with your friends too by inviting them over for game night or splitting the cost of a weekend getaway trip.

You don’t have to always miss out on dining out or an expensive experience, you can look for deals on Groupon and other coupon sites to make it more affordable. Restaurant week is the perfect time to dine at the fancy places on the water that you would normally never go to (or be able to afford).

Cold Weather

I know we fight

I know we don’t always get it right

I’m sorry I didn’t pick up your calls

It’s just that my mind was going crazy inside these walls

I’ve never had someone mean so much to me

Being this vulnerable can make me a little uneasy

Even if I cry, just know I always want to try

Even in cold weather, I’ll always want to stay together

-Jan 2018

What’s Better the Spark of New Love or the Slow Burn of an Old One?

As I’ve been on the dating scene for a few years, I’m inclined to think I know a thing or two about short term relationships. But seeing as my current relationship is my longest, I needed to call on some friends who have been in multi-year long relationships to get some true insights on that slow burn. And here’s what I learned:

If you’ve been together for multiple years you’ve probably experienced some major life events from birthdays to funerals and new chapters of your life such as graduations and job changes. We change and grow over the years and it’s important the relationship grows as well. You go through struggles and celebrations together strengthening your bond.

Common issues in short term relationships like self doubt and self consciousness fade out. All shared experiences and trust over the years have made jealousy a thing of the past. Any girl can go up to your man, you’re confident in your relationship and you know she’s just wasting her time. Your man loves every weird inch of you, and trust me, by now he has seen it all! There’s no hiding anymore, he’s experienced every one of your odd behaves and they didn’t scare him off! You’re more relaxed and secure in your long term relationship now.

Being committed to someone for multiple years gives you faith in love and hope in the future. Being able to depend on someone for anything that life throws at you makes you confident in yourself that you can handle all of life’s ups and down.

I, personally, have never been able to date someone if I didn’t see a future with them. So being with someone for many years makes it more certain that they could be a life long partner. Life doesn’t really give you a lot of guarantees but knowing that you’ll always have this person beside you could ease some stress. Making future plans with this person could be exciting to think about and plan for.

This leads us right into cons of long term dating though since having to factor someone else into your future means less freedom. You can’t just take that job a few states over, you have your significant other and their career to consider as well. You can’t just buy that new car if you wanted, you have to talk to your significant other about future housing and other expenses. You’re not just looking after yourself now.

The other side of the coin of having someone there for you always, means that you can become dependent on them. All that confidence you had suddenly evaporates when you have to do something by yourself. For example, I have social anxiety and get very anxious having to shop for groceries. I’ve now gone to the grocery store with my boyfriend a few times and that anxiety has really receded (granted probably because my focus is now concentrating on not yelling at my boyfriend for walking too slow but that’s besides the point). Now if I go to the grocery store by myself will I be pushed right back into that same anxiety or will the positive shopping experiences healed that issue for me? Will I be dependent to only go shopping with my boyfriend?
I’ve heard from lots of long term couples that they don’t think they could handle modern dating now. Dating apps seem shallow and hopeless and finding a new partner would be a difficult journey. This could make someone feel trapped in their long term relationship, like they’ll never find someone else to love them as much again.

They have forgotten that the beginning of every relationship is new and exciting! You’re thinking of all the endless possibilities and early love gives you hope for the future. The beginning is still fun and light. There’s no need to dive right off the deep end into tough situations and deep insecurities. For now you’re both showing your best selves and seeing if it’s worth the risk to be vulnerable and show the rough sides too.

In the beginning, every new conversation, date, and touch gives you butterflies. And you still get to keep your freedom too as you two dance around each other, give one another space and not trying to seem too desperate for the next date.

On the other hand, the dating world creates a revolving door of people in your life and the lack of stability and support can make a person feel lonely. This could also make you feel hopeless that love will never work out for you. You begin to think something is wrong with you, afraid to show your true self because you’re not sure what might makes them leave. You meet new people that you have fun with but you haven’t met the person you can be sad with.

Sure, a new spark will catch your eye and make you wonder, but it’s the slow burn that will keep you warm through a cold, dark night.

Forest Fire

You talk about her and it lights a forest fire of destruction in my heart

my immediate reaction is to mention him so you might feel a lick of the pain I’m in.

It doesn’t make it any better when you speak ill of her

with so much emotion in your voice, i can still feel her claws deep in you

Am I that deep in you yet?

Will you ever be able to forget me?

Can I replace her in your heart?

What’s it like Blogging about a Current Relationship You’re in?

Some people might think it’s kinda weird to tell a bunch of strangers your inner thoughts on such an intimate relationship. Others might be more open minded. I think in a lot of ways blogging helps my relationship. I’m able to sort out feelings, become self aware as I continue to reflect, and I think it helps keep the relationship honest.

What I mean by keeping the relationship honest is that we can’t really sweep issues under the rug when I’m analyzing them, debating various outcomes, and asking for advice on here. Boyfriend then, of course, reads these articles and depending on the situation perhaps learns where I’m coming from and any hidden anxieties that are contributing to an issue.

I may also be able to work out some personal hang ups by writing them out and saving us from a future disagreement. It’s important to be self aware and know what topics you’re sensitive about. I might be able to discover the true reason why I’m upset about something whether it’s because I was hurt before in a similar way or I was just deflecting  because I didn’t want to face the true issue (i.e. being mad at your girlfriend for always being late but you’re actually upset that she doesn’t value your time/effort).

It allows him insights he might normally not find in positive situations as well. It allows me to express my appreciation for him since I usually have a hard time verbalizing my thoughts. (I think I get romantic brownie points but let’s be honest, after the 30th poem I think the shine wears off) He may also learn things that help to ease his worries as well, ones that he might have been too nervous to tell me about or just have yet come up in the relationship.

Blogging about my current relationship is kind of like having a free relationship counselor.

The Parasite

I’m not sure why you still talk about her

Can’t you see that it hurts me?

You haven’t spoken to her in months but yet

Here she is again in our conversation

In your mind and in mine

I feel like she has a permanent place inside of you

Inside our relationship.

I feel crazy for not being able to let it go

But have you let her go?

She’ll drain us both if we let her