Things I Learned from Dating in My 20s

by September 4, 2016
filed under Sex & Dating
Topics , ,

“As women glide from their twenties to thirties, [they] lose their nerve, wrestling with the first twinges of existential angst: fears of dying alone and being found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian.”
– Helen Fielding, Bridget Jones’s Diary

In anticipation of the coming attraction Bridget Jones’s Baby (because who doesn’t love Renée Zellweger and Colin Firth?), I was browsing the web for all things Bridget when I came across the above quote and thought, what the hell is an Alsatian? (it’s a dog). A second later, I thought, oh, my god, is that going to be me? Am I going to be eaten by a dog?

Chances are, if you’re past your mid-20s and single, you’ve entertained the possibility that you will die alone. After chewing on it at 27, I think there are worse things that could happen (like getting to the afterlife and realizing there’s no wine).

Dating in my 20s has taught me that there are countless bad reasons to date someone. Don’t do it because your relatives have cracked one too many old-spinster jokes and you want to prove them wrong, or because it’d be great to split rent with someone, or because you’re bored, sexually frustrated or trying to fit in with what society tells you is normal — especially that last one.

Too many people believe having a normal life includes falling in love and getting married. People in their 20s are constantly asked, “so, are you seeing anyone?” while being bombarded on all sides by pop culture showing that happy endings are sealed with a kiss. Those who remain single too long are often mislabelled as players, commitment phobes or sad wretches. They are given unsolicited sympathy and/or dating advice derived from bizarre oceanic metaphors about there being plenty of fish in the sea and the world being an oyster. I hate seafood, both literal and metaphorical.

You should date someone only if you genuinely like that person and want to spend time together. It took me the better part of my twenties to figure it out, but it really is that simple.

I’ve given guys in bars my number and tried online dating just so I could say, “look, I’m actively pursuing relationships! That’s what I’m supposed to do, right?” I wound up going on a date with a guy who said I seemed like the type of girl who likes rough sex then joked about being a vampire and bit me. Fun, but too much libido for this girl to handle. Another guy, after making a big show of paying for my $2 tea, decided it was fair that I pay for both our movie tickets. I’m not opposed to girls paying on dates, but seriously?

I’ve dated guys who refused to tip waitresses, criticized what kinds of makeup women wear, called me frigid and defended Donald Trump. My response to all of this? Cheque, please.

Dating in my 20s hasn’t been all bad. I almost got it right a few times. One guy had a motorcycle and another, a British accent. One guy taught me how to throw a football. One bought me red roses, took me for car rides down sunlit country roads and mailed me handwritten letters.

What I realized at the end of all these dates, though — even the good ones — was that I like being single.

I like not having to put effort into getting to know people. I like having the luxury of being selfish. I like buying myself jewellery and getting lost alone in bookstores and eating entire pizzas. I like going to Bridget Jones movies without dragging along an unenthusiastic date, and busting out brassy dance moves every time someone plays Beyoncé’s Single Ladies.

I like that I always have time for my friends. I like not partaking in exchanges of human saliva (honestly, mouth contact weirds me out). I like challenging people who assume I’m unhappy because I’m alone (last I checked, I have tons of amazing friends, family members, and a cat who, I’m fairly confident, won’t eat me, and that’s more than enough for me).

I like knowing the universe is full of dating possibilities, but also that I don’t have to obsess over finding the right match — if it happens, it happens, and if not, who cares? I like telling people that it’s okay to be single, no matter what age you are.

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