"It's a Friday night, why don't you go out on a date?" Fathers are supposed to be opposed to their daughters finding a new No. 1 man, but I guess all bets are off when you're 25 and planning another Netflix binge night rather than a social outing. As I sat there in my sweatpants, ready to click on the next episode of Vikings, I thought, "Maybe my dad has a point. . . ."
I'll admit, for a year post-graduation I was 100 percent not interested in dating. After some forays and misses with relationships in college, and with all the pressure of nailing it at my first real-world job, I couldn't even fathom adding another layer of stress to my life upon graduation. Pursuing a relationship was off the table.
As I started wading back into the dating waters though, I realized some of my own preconceived notions about dating that were holding me back. I knew that I was now in one of the notoriously toughest dating pools in the country—New York City. I knew that women far outnumber men, and hooking up is way more prevalent that casual dating. Even still, I joined a couple apps, vowed to be more open, and slowly but surely got more comfortable with dating. I began to realize that some of what I thought I knew about dating was actually based on myths I had subconsciously believed for years—and they weren't doing me any favors.
I had to wonder, how many of us young women have been self-sabotaging our dating lives with these love myths? Here are five I have come to see for what they are.
Myth #1. It’s Embarrassing to Be Flirty
In high school and college, being called "flirty" was an insult. It essentially meant you were throwing yourself at a guy, and it was obvious to everyone around you, including him. Rather than be one of those girls, I bolstered my pride all the while acting like I could care less about the new guys I met during those years.
But once you enter the adult world, the dating scene completely changes. You have to flirt, because if you're not, literally nobody would know you're interested. During my first experiment in the dating app world, I couldn't understand why guys wanted to chat so much within the app's messaging section. I wasn't interested in chatting, I wanted a stinkin’ date! So I sent back standard replies, waiting for them to just ask me out. It wasn't until a guy friend told me that even on a dating app, men still can't be sure you're interested in a date until you start expressing it—aka being flirty. He compared it to being at a bar, saying that even if a guy is chatting with a woman he just met, he can't be entirely sure she will say yes to a date—which can be daunting. After the lightbulb went off and I dared to be flirty, I realized public shame and humiliation doesn't follow from showing romantic interest. And guess what? Dates ensued.
I am by no means encouraging flirting for the sake of flirting. Flirting should come from a place of sincerity and genuine interest in someone. And it definitely doesn't mean throwing yourself at a guy. Things such as compliments, affirmation, and smiles (or winky faces if you are on an app) can be done with sincerity. Done tastefully, flirting gets the ball rolling and gives him an extra bit of confidence to (finally) ask you out!
Myth# 2. Never Let Him Know You Like Him
It was about a year ago that I had a dating revelation, "If he knows that I like him, the worst thing that could happen is he doesn't like me back but like, 'you're welcome for thinking you're cool.'"
The real reason there's so much taboo around flirting is because for some reason, girls (myself included) are terribly afraid of looking like we are interested in a guy—even if we actually are. Usually, if we send a friend to inquire about a guy you like, we say something along the lines of, "Whatever you do, don't make it seem like I like him!" In our minds, the worst thing that can happen in a potential relationship is if he knows you like him.
I realized, however, that when we are so deathly afraid of a guy knowing we like them, we're not giving ourselves enough credit. C'mon, we're awesome chicks who have accomplished a lot in life! On what planet would a guy be revolted by a girl who thinks he's cute? He might not feel the same way, but at the end of the day, it's still very flattering. It might seem cocky to say, "He should be flattered that I like him," but if we don't think our honest affections are an honor and a gift to others then we need to reexamine our own sense of self-worth. Furthermore, by realizing our worth, it makes it easier to recoup if they say no, because hey, our worth doesn't change when someone denies us!
Myth #3. Your Life Will Be Over If He Doesn’t Like You Back
Going off my last point, it might seem horribly humiliating if they don't like you back because #pride, but it really isn't a big deal. It just confirms that he's not the person you'll end up with.
I'm sure we can all recall a time when we were trying to gain a guy's attention and affection, but no matter what we did, he just wasn't into it. Whether he takes days to reply to text messages, always wants to hang out in groups, or throws the "friend" word around an awful lot, we can take a hint. But again, we lose nothing when a guy doesn't like us back. We don't even lose our pride because, let's be real, we're all searching for the right one so he just narrowed down the search a bit more. So, thank you, sir, good to know I'm one step closer to my future boo.
Myth #4. Tell Him It’s You, Not Him
On the flip side, women are often irrationally afraid of having to tell a guy she straight up doesn't like him. We all know the drill, "I'm just not in a place to be in a relationship right now," "I'm just really focusing on my career," "I'm so busy, I can't date," "I'm not over my last boyfriend," "I don't know how to love!" We will literally say anything other than the words, "I don't like you like that." We end up confusing them by giving them the idea that at some point, we will be interested.
I was talking to a guy friend who was telling me that all guys really want is a direct yes or no. And often, they respect that and back off. I realized that for women, empathy can bite us in the butt. We know how much courage it takes to ask someone out, which is why we feel so badly when turning them down. I think a lot of us subconsciously feel guilty when turning down a guy, which is why we give them millions of reasons or excuses as to why we don't feel the same way. We feel like we have to explain ourselves as if we should like them back. But really, if the attraction isn't there, it simply isn't there. If we can own that, it makes it easier to say, "Hey, I’m sorry, but I just don’t have those feelings for you."
Myth #5. Pretend Like You Don’t Care About Dating
Let's stop pretending like we're not all looking for someone. Okay, yes, we get it, you're independent, self-sufficient, and don't need a man. I mean, what single person hasn't eye rolled at least once after scrolling through an entire Facebook feed of new engagements, wedding photos, baby announcements (they do it on purpose to taunt us, I swear). But here comes the pride again: nobody wants to admit that they want to find someone. But human companionship is something we all desire, so why waste energy pretending otherwise?
Desperation and admitting that we're looking for someone to share our life with is not the same thing. For some reason, we all feel like we have to be secretive about how hard dating is, but there are literally millions of people feeling the exact same way.
At the end of the day, it's much better to be humble and honest about hoping to find someone rather than lying to yourself and everyone around you. If you're being open about it, your chances of actually finding someone will grow because you will have a more positive attitude about dating in general, guys will know you're open to dating, and your friends and family (who know you best) will be on the look out for you. So don't keep it under wraps!
Photo Credit: Erich McVey