4 Things I Learned From Dating Someone I Knew I Didn't Want To Marry
As a little girl, especially one from the South, it’s been IV’d into my blood to mind my P’s and Q’s, be a lady, develop self-respect, but most importantly, to find a good man, settle down and make a perfect wife and family. There’s a number of issues I have with the whole “finding a good man and settling down” thing but the most basic one is this thing called “dating.”
Different people have different definitions of what this is. All of them have always been epic failures for me. The instant-stalker, Tarzan knock-off, self-absorbed kind of failures.
For this reason and the fact that and I turn into a puddle of mess—an emotional, awkward pre-teen—with any guy that I am physically attracted to, I avoid dating.
Surviving the whole 30-years-old milestone, living the single life, and nowhere near ready to swallow the whole marriage or commitment thing, I decided to try this dating thing and just say yes to a few gentlemen whom I immediately knew I didn’t want to date long-term, much less marry. These bros, each for different reasons, I was drawn to spending time with past a first date.
Before you get all judgey and start name calling, note that I was forthcoming with my motives, letting each of these dudes know that in many ways we were just wasting time together, but the future was not destined to include a ring, 2.5 kids and a house on the hill. For me, this was something new and bazaar; for them, it was golden.
For someone who has been rigid in my “rules of life” and who falls head-over-heels for most things, especially someone whom I’m sharing hours and intimate moments with, dating with the intent to have no intentions was initially overwhelming.
I took a deep breath and decided to treat myself to all the pleasures denied to my 20-year-old self and irresponsibly do the “dating” thing.
Here’s a few things that I learned spending time with someone that I clashed with like a white shirt in a rainstorm and how I found enjoyment in just being present in the moment without calculated expectations to produce a desired end result.
1. I Experienced What it Feels Like to Be the One Who Loves Less
In every relationship, and varying over the life of the partnership, someone loves harder.
I’m usually the one who loves the hardest, supports the most and caves the quickest to show I care.
Spending time with someone whom, for a lack of better terms, I didn't care so much about what he thought about me or our long-term outcome allowed me to not need to be the one to love the hardest.
It allowed me to be the one to receive more love, sacrifices and extra care, because I was sharing my time with someone who, for whatever reason, loved (aka, strongly liked) me more than I did him.
With a bit of effort to not compete or push this away, it left me feeling invigorated, happy and worthy, something I’ve rarely felt being with someone whom I loved more.
2. I Learned How to Be 100% Open and Honest (with Myself)
My small number of relationships have all been subject to lies. Lies to myself, to my partner, from my partner, to friends and family.
I love the idea of love more so than actually being in the true state.
So much so that I’ve lied to myself (my mate, my friends, family and anyone else who inquired) that I was more into it than I really was. I let the small things slip by, the big things stack up and the unforgivable, soul-crushing, inexcusable things have pass after pass.
Being with someone who I didn’t have any ties to lies for longevity allowed me to say what I wanted, needed and felt unfiltered and with no remorse. Before you say “Whoa, what a raging b-i-atch,” note that these conversations weren’t as cutthroat as you might picture, I do have a heart and understand how deeply hurt feelings can go.
The moral here is that I didn’t hold back my honesties for fear that I might get cut off for telling the truth, because frankly, in these instances, the stakes had no long-term ties, which allowed me to get the most out of a temporary tango.
3. I Felt What It Was Like to Be Someone’s Friend Above Being Their Lover
Typically, I’m attracted to someone and want to share my bed with them, or I’m not. Simple as that.
The specifics outside vary, but I can’t recall someone placed in the friend zone who I decided to swap saliva with. I found myself within the first hours of hanging with said non-boyfriend-to-be a bit of a middle ground: not attracted or un-attracted and after spending some hours together, I realized that more than a lover, he really wanted and needed a good friend. Someone to listen to him, steer him in the right direction when he was making bad decisions and be there when times were tough and he didn’t know how to deal.
This, honestly, is what we are all seeking packaged in someone who makes sparks in our heart and is in it for the long haul, but sometimes, we just want and need to fill in the gaps in between to make dealing with it all that much less confusing.
Sharing this with someone who I knew I was committing to for a short stint amplified our intimacy because it wasn’t really about the sexual, but more so about the being there.
4. I Learned How to Say F*ck It and Just Have Some Fun
Being an overthinking overachiever is a fun suck, I’ll admit it. I often find myself thinking all too much about what I have to do the next day, week, month or lifetime, overly conscious of everything and regretting any moments that were not well thought out beforehand.
This has left me secretly jealous of those who always seemed to be a bit of an out-of-control, life-of-any-party, functional adult.
My for-the-moment boy was just one of these. A drink-too-much, say-all-the-wrong-things, live-for-the-party and party-for-life kind of dude. The one that you’d never bring to a gathering with friends or family because you’re nervous that he might get too wasted and puke in the plants or pass out in your grandma’s bed kind of boy.
But boy, was he fun.
Deep diving into behaviors that were encouraged to be left in your '20s, owning the whole IDGIF attitude for a night (or several blurry ones) was some kind of beautiful that I think every 30-something should experience.
Once I fully relaxed, I realized that my beau was here to remind me what it’s like to just have harmless fun without a calculated end result.
This, was one of the most glorious things I’ve ever experienced, being carefree and coasting with good people with nothing else in mind but that moment.
Dating is typically seen as something with an end result - a heartbreak, a long-term relationship or marriage and kids. Taking a leap at dating dudes I knew I didn’t want anything from led me to finding a bit of freedom, happiness and carefreeness that I would have never experienced if I had said no to getting together or went home after the first awkward moment lacking sparks.
I learned how to love without the necessity of an end result, to have carefree fun, what honesty really feels like, and how to be a friend above lover.