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The 20-something dating life
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With three 20-somethings in the office, dating comes up a lot. 

To be my naturally blunt self -- which sometimes contributes to my dating woes -- I don’t know what’s going on with these guys. One of my friends says “there is a famine in the land,” which gives me a good belly laugh every time she says it, but I can’t really disagree. 

Obviously this isn’t true for everyone, but it really shouldn’t be this hard to get a date. To be more specific, it really shouldn’t be this hard to get a date with an attractive man who is doing something with his life and is respectful and respectable. It’s really not that complicated. None of my 20-something friends are all that picky, so it’s not like we have that infamous list that we are constantly comparing men to. I’m sure we all have preferences, as we all have certain things we like to do, so finding someone with some similar interests, goals and wants is important. I’m a big advocate of going out if someone asks, though -- if they are seemingly sane and have some common sense. My motto is “If it doesn’t work out, at least you got free dinner or a drink or two. And if he asked you out and you have to pay for your own meal -- that’s a double “no.” I’m sure there are lots of women who are OK with going Dutch on a date, but I’m not, so don’t even try it; otherwise, it’s just hanging out. Now, I understand that when you are in your 20s, you probably aren’t making that much money. So, you have to spend wisely, which is why I tend to like to get drinks or coffee on the first date. I also like a drink date, because if it isn’t going well, you can just hurry up and drink your drink and leave. No harm done.

The bigger issue, though, is that some of these guys don’t know what a date is. I’m not cooking you dinner, I’m not coming to your house, you aren’t coming to my house, we aren’t sitting in a car for an hour, and the list goes on. 

What the heck?

I also think that some men -- and women -- just don’t see the big picture when it comes to relationships. Recently, a guy that I sort-of-kind-of dated in late 2011/early 2012 decided he wanted to pop back up in my life. Despite the fact that he is a really nice guy, I already knew it wasn’t going to work, but I decided it wouldn’t kill me talk to him again. Now I’m wondering why I gave him my phone number … again. He just does not understand that it takes a certain compromise to have a day-to-day relationship. Just because you like someone doesn’t mean you need to be together; period.  I like going out and he doesn’t, which is one of the major issues. I keep telling him what the other issues are; he doesn’t comprehend them. I can’t change his thought process -- I don’t want to and am not even going to try -- so I’m just going to let him keep thinking that this is going to work until it’s time for us to move on. The overly quoted Maya Angelou saying that goes, “When someone shows you who you are, believe them,” is so true in regard to any relationship. People seem to get offended by the “What you see is what you get” kind of attitude, but I don’t see why. To me, it saves time and trouble if you just accept people as they are; if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.  

One of my best friends went on a date with an older man recently and, Lord, I don’t know what his deal is. He wasn’t very involved in where they should go on their first date and plans changed once or twice. My friend told me that the man, a dentist, came to pick her up in his scrubs, then changed into jeans and a T-shirt. She was surprised when she realized that he had dressed so causally, but she didn’t say anything about it. The area she lives in doesn’t have a ton of restaurants, so they went to a restaurant neither one of them had been to in the next town over. Long story short, he was dressed entirely too casual for the restaurant. He asked her -- in a frustrated tone of voice, mind you -- if she had checked the dress code before they got there and she said “no.” How was she supposed to know this grown man, who’s almost 20 years older than she is, was going to be dressed in casual jeans and a shirt on the first date? You always overdress on a date, duh; especially when you don’t make concrete plans as to where you are going. I don’t know how she’s feeling about it, but I was definitely feeling some type of way and I didn’t even go on the date.  

And don’t get me started on online dating -- talk about trying to find a needle in a haystack. Online dating is fun though, if you can see the lighter side of things, because it can be just pure entertainment. I think men are more bold behind a computer so it’s easier for them to show interest. The last roommate I had while I was attending Winthrop University was a divorcée in her late 30s that used an online dating website. I was a bit wary at first, but the way she thought about it made sense. She basically said that online dating is just like meeting someone in the grocery store.  It’s true, except with online dating at least you know a little about the person right off the bat. Online dating is tough; I’m not sure how many of you have seen Catfish on MTV, but the struggle is real. The Catfish TV show is a spinoff of a movie about a man who realizes that his online love has been lying about her life. The movie’s main character now helps people across the country who are in online relationships determine if their online love is who they say they are. Sometimes the partner who is reluctant to meet the other is who they say they are and sometimes they are a completely different person.

Plus, I think online dating can pretty much count as another job; it’s hard work. 

Then there is the parent approval issue. Most times, your parents are going to want you to be honing in on something that you are quite interested in, or they are not so pleased with the people you do choose to go out with. They often want to keep you from making their mistakes and save you from unnecessary heart break, by being too overly involved. Of course, you don’t want to waste too much time and energy on something that you know isn’t going to work, but life’s too short to worry about your parent’s preferences, if they don’t fit your lifestyle. My parents, and most of my close friend’s parents, grew up in an entirely different way of life, so of course their mindset is going to be different that ours in regard to age, career, race, economic statues, etc. My mom thinks I need to date guys my own age; that way we can have our own little adventures together, but I tend to like older guys, so that’s always an issue. She thinks that they’ve already experienced life, which they have, so they won’t want to do some of the same things over again, but clearly it’s like pulling wisdom teeth trying to get the guy I mentioned earlier to live a little, so I’m like, “What’s the difference?” Their opinions are valuable, but I don’t want to have any regrets because I listened to them, despite my own feelings about any particular situation.

And then, of course, what you think you want, sometimes turns out to be a dead end -- lust not love, you know? I dated what I previously thought would be my perfect guy in college, and I couldn’t stand being around him for more than an hour, once a week (Ha!). He was sweet to the core, but thankfully we were smart enough to see that we would drive each other completely crazy if we tried to tough it out any longer than we did.

Marriage is a whole other subject. I think there is this little voice in some of my friend’s heads -- men and women -- that says we’ll find someone when we are ready, but the reality is we’ll never be ready. Nothing in our life will ever be perfect, so, again, I don’t see why this is such a complicated process: just find someone that you can talk openly with, can be completely yourself with, has the same values, and make sure your life goals work with the other person’s life goals and live life. Simple.