Sometimes, I will sit down to pen a piece and the Universe will be on some, "Yeah…let's wait a couple of days. I've got something to show you." Such was the case with this article. When I saw a particular tweet that seemingly came out of nowhere, I was like…how do y'all say it—"That's it. That's the tweet." And indeed, it is.
The tweet itself is probably something that A LOT of women can relate to. But the reason why I'm using it as the intro for this is 1) it serves as a warning to go with your gut on stuff like this (if it took 10 years, you probably didn't really want him) and 2) because of so many of the messages that were underneath. Here are five of 'em.
Aunty once it's past a year of curving then it become all about revenge now— DUKE DARLS (@Iam_DukeDarls) December 8, 2019
U became a conquest after ONE year— Dodo El Patron (@Chief_Torbah) December 8, 2019
You turned to a bucket list after year 2 😂— King Jaja(Izuchukwu...Kendrick😍)💸💰🚬⚽🇳🇬🇺🇸 (@Naija_Hokage) December 8, 2019
Let me tell u something, when d love wait too long it become a revenge mission that must be achieved.— Oscar (@Oscar29784957) December 8, 2019
In the last days, the heart of men will grow cold 😂— first of his name (@emreyys) December 8, 2019
Hmph two times. Actually, five times. Nobody said that dating was easy; that's why I thought it would be important to encourage you to make some dating-related promises that can help you to navigate through dating's sometimes treacherous waters. The first one that you should declare? That you will value your guy friends and seek advice from them more often in the new year. Because while so many women are out here guessing how a man's mind works, a lot of men already know straight up. As a bonus, they have absolutely no problem putting you on game so that you won't have to tweet out something similar to what sis did.
And with that hopefully lil' pearl of wisdom out of the way, here are 10 other promises to hopefully help you to date effectively rather than regrettably in the year of our Lord.
1. “I will be clear on what I am dating for at this point in my life.”
Not everyone dates for the same reasons and honestly, no one should be penalized for that. If you want to date next year in order to find your husband, that's cool, but a guy is not automatically a jerk simply because he'd prefer to casually date (perhaps indefinitely) instead. Typically, the drama comes in when two people are attracted to each other, start hanging out and then, a few months up the road, they realize that they want two totally different things. That's why, it's best for you to know what you want and, on the second or third date with someone to bring that up. That way, you can both know, pretty early on, if you're on the same page with one another—or not.
2. “I will not allow my past experiences to jade my future opportunities.”
I can't tell you how many times I've heard a woman say she hates dating when, what I really think she means that her past dating experiences have been less than stellar. Personally, I think that a well-planned date with someone I'm attracted to is a beautiful thing. But no one can enjoy new dating experiences if they have a such a bitter or jaded perspective that they aren't open to new people and opportunities.
One way to prevent sucky dates from happening quite so often is to have a few thorough conversations with a prospective date on the front end. It's OK to ask what his ideas of a perfect date are and to share some of yours too. If during the planning process, you already see some red flags (like he's dragging his feet on coming up with a clear plan or he mentions you coming to his house or him coming to yours and it's the first, second or third date), either bring them to his attention or cancel.
Just don't manifest a negative self-fulfilling prophecy by focusing so much on your past that you're not even remotely open to what could happen, in the best way possible, in the future. Even if that "future" is with someone else.
3. “I will know what I require upfront.”
Earlier this year, when I penned a piece entitled "5 Things That Are OK To Require On A First Date", some people thought that "requiring" anything was being unrealistic. Clearly, I don't. Let me tell it, a lot of us end up settling for less and it's all because we don't require certain things as much as we should. A requirement is a need. And yes, if you need chivalry (for example), it's OK to require that. Now, can you "make" a man open doors for you or pay on the first date? No. But if chivalry is important to you and he doesn't meet your standards, you can refuse to go on another date. Simple as that.
The reason why it's important to know where you stand at the beginning of a date is because, just as the Good Book says, "charm is deceitful" (Proverbs 31:30). If you don't have a personalized list of requirements in tow, a guy's looks and/or personality could talk you into lowering your standards and, as I tell people often—"You only end up bending over backwards when your bar is too low." When you know what you need and don't waver on that, it will keep you from getting so attached so soon that you start to waver in the very places where you should stand firm.
4. “I will be open to dating outside of my ‘type’.”
When it comes to this particular point, I encourage you to check out "According To Experts, We All Have A 'Type'" and "Should You Consider Dating Someone You're Not Attracted To?" When it comes to the second article, let me tell you—there were some people out here who were triggered. Automatically, they took that to mean that I was encouraging them to settle when, really, if they actually read beyond the title (or did more than skim it), they'd get that what I was actually saying is if all you go by is someone not totally being your physical type, you could end up missing out on a really good man. My late fiancé was attractive but absolutely not my physical type. My first love was totally my type and about took my uterus out (relatively speaking). I actually just saw him recently; he's still my type and still…not a good fit (to put it mildly).
You know what they say—insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Allow this to be the year when you open yourself to guys who may not be totally your type but are still appealing individuals. A wise man once said, "If you only peep through keyholes, everything is keyhole-shaped." Your type might expand if you date people who are little more outside of your typical…type. I'm just sayin'.
5. “I will also be open to going on dates that are outside of the box.”
Maverick Movies is an independent Black movie channel that sometimes features some cool films. One day, I caught one entitledSure Looks Good. One of the main characters reminded me a lot of Regine from Living Single in the sense that she only dated men with money. Then she met a guy who took her on a picnic; that turned her off. Then she was totally outdone when she found out he also didn't have a car. What she didn't know was he had a pretty good job, but he sold his car in order to invest in his photography business. Hmph. While she was out here dating rich men she wasn't really into, the "broke" guy that she actually liked was building an empire. He actually reminds me of who Joan (from Girlfriends) ended up getting engaged to. Remember how Aaron rode the bus, lived in a tiny ass apartment, and also didn't do a lot of initial wining and dining because he was trying to save up to buy a house?
I'm not trying to convince you to date a man who wants to only eat ice cream on a metro bus. But what I am saying is if a guy wants to do something that is a little different from what you are used to and his approach to life isn't quite what you'd expect—so long as you dig him and he treats you right, don't be so quick to shut the door. Some of the best things happen when we don't have such a tight grip on how they are "supposed" to go. I'll also say that some of my best dates have consisted of doing things that I never really thought I would do—or even like to do.
6. “I will not talk myself out of the red flags that I see.”
If you don't adhere to any of these other dating-related recommendations, please hold on to this one. Instead of seeing red (stop) flags as yellow (caution) ones, take them for the color that they are and MOVE. ON. And what are some of the dating red flags that you shouldn't ignore? A man who has a temper. A man who is too prideful to admit that he's wrong or to apologize when he is. A man who has a serious bout of commitment phobia. A man who has no problem with you being his wife without him being your husband (see "Why You're Always The One Who Prepares A Man For His Wife"). A man who sits back and lets you do all of the work to make things work. A man who doesn't make you feel emotionally safe. A man who is selfish. A man who is a narcissist. A man who knows your triggers—and constantly pushes them. A man who is great in bed but nowhere else.
Red flags exist so that we can see them and pump our brakes, not see them and talk ourselves into turning guys into our own personal projects. No one is perfect; that is so true. But if you happen to see any of the flags that I just mentioned, don't use that as a justification to stick around longer than you should.
When it comes to the red flags I shared, guys are better off working on those alone than us staying with them and enabling their weaknesses. If you choose to stay anyway, don't say you weren't warned. Again, red means "stop", not "pause". Always remember that.
7. “I will actually listen to what he says.”
Have mercy. I know a lot of people who think they are good listeners when they actually totally suck at it. How can you know if you are one of those people? You don't listen to what it being said; you only focus on what you want to hear. You take over conversations. You interrupt people while they are speaking. You don't pause to process what was said before responding (or reacting). You make everything about you, even when it's not. Ugh. There really is no telling how many relationships could be saved if both people listened better.
Make it a point to be a better listener while on your dates. This means doing the opposite of what I just shared. It also means that if a guy says, "I'm not interested in anything serious", you don't translate that into, "If he spends more time with me, I can change his mind." Listening is about hearing and accepting what is being said; not hearing and then finding a way to "edit" it to suit your purposes.
8. “I will not rely on dating to make me feel good about myself.”
This one is a biggie. Some women have told me that they hate dating because, whether it's the guy or the kind of dating experiences that they end up having, the end result is they always end up questioning their value or self-worth. First, let me say this—a guy who is a simp date or who totally lacks creativity and forethought is not a reflection on you; that is all on him. Second, if you are going on a date to seek confirmation of your worthiness, that is the absolute wrong reason to be doing it in the first place.
Anyone who has the privilege of spending time with you, they should feel honored. You are a prize. A prize. And third, looking for dates to make you feel good about yourself is giving them way too much power. Dating is about getting to know someone better. If things work out, awesome. If they don't, he wasn't your right fit and discovering that is a good thing.
The key to keep dating from totally damaging your self-esteem is to always keep in mind why you're doing what you're doing. What I mean by that is, don't date because some guy wants you to. Don't date because all of your friends are doing it. Don't date because you hate being alone. Date because it's an experience you want to have with someone, knowing that no matter how it turns out, you're going be OK. Better than that even. Why? Because—say it with me this time—you are the prize. Hmph. Ole' boy should be so lucky.
9. “I will embrace each date as a learning experience, whether it’s good or bad.”
I'm a quotes girl and one of my favorites is "You're either a blessing or a lesson." So true, so true. Another reason why some women swear off dating is because they refuse to look at dating from this perspective. No one wants to go on a date with their hopes up, only to come home feeling like someone was a complete waste of their time. But if you choose to have a more positive and purposeful outlook, even the bad dates can teach you something; especially something about yourself.
And what if you've gone on so many bad dates at this point that you've totally lost count? Well, you know what they say—everywhere you go, there you are. What are the common threads on the front end that you could stand to switch up on? I'm telling you, if you see dates as experiences rather than potential fairy tale endings, all of them can work for you in the long run—whether the date was "good" or…not.
10. “I will maintain the balance of high standards, a gracious spirit and living in the moment.”
One more. The funny thing about dating is, nothing reminds you more, just how human nature works. What I mean by that is, whenever you go out on a date with someone, the point is always driven home that the only person you can ever control is you. Yet a lot of us return home totally pissed, put off or outdone, not because of our actions but the actions of someone else. That's why, I wanted to end this dating piece by encouraging you to remember to keep your standards high (not unrealistic but high), to have a gracious spirit (rather than a rude or entitled one), and to not be so focused on trying to turn a first date into a potential future marriage proposal; instead, live in the moment.
Relax. Have a good time. Use each date to get you closer to understanding what you want and what you don't want. Allow this to be the year when you cultivate how to make dating work in your favor. Because, you know what? If you keep these 10 promises to yourself, you can do exactly that. Then…who knows what 2021 will have in store. Ya feel me? Something tells me that you do.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Featured image by Shutterstock