What I have learnt about dating – your friends are usually always right

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What I have learnt about dating

Love can be encompassing and potently powerful and dating is often a rollercoaster of epic highs and lows. Sophie Everard reflects on past stories, mishaps, successes and failures to tell us what she has learnt about dating…

From the first smooch on my cheek from my first beau aged 11 at a school fireworks night, to singing an off-key warble of The Boy is Mine with a jousting friend at age 15 in pursuit of a young suitor’s affections, to my first wild, all-encompassing, imploding love, to the broken hearts of such pain you think will never heal (they do). Aside from a brief foray of exploration during university (typical) with the same sex, I have dated as a heterosexual woman my whole life, with the usual colourful tapestry of stories, mishaps, successes and failures. Here is what I have learnt about dating in my 20’s and 30’s…

What I have learnt about dating

Your friends are usually right

Have you introduced your new squeeze to your crew only to find a row of red flags up faster than you can say Jack Robinson?  Hate to say it, but your nearest and dearest are usually right. Your best mates know warts n’ all, and fair enough, one of them may not bond with your lover due to differing tastes in politics, M&M flavours, if the moon landings were faked… but if there’s an entire panel of shaking heads mouthing RUN, you should know that something is up.

When I’ve tried to ignore the naysayers and re-affirm loyalty to my shifty-looking beau, perhaps gooey eyed by lust and not seeing the reality of the situation, it has always ended up in one fat mess, with my snotty crying into the laps of said panel of friends, politely biting their tongues to say “I told you say”. Just hear them out.

What I have learnt about dating

Never ignore those red flags

A few weeks into a new thing, and your shiny-new suitor suddenly bolts for a 5G pole with a flame thrower, cursing Bill Gates and microchips, whilst sporting a MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat? A red flag might shoot up mentally in your head with such ferocity you think you’ve literally sprouted it out your head, yet, you ignore it, and dismiss Steve’s little display as a moment of “passion”?

Red flags serve a purpose and they are there, sitting in your gut, waving about like there’s a hurricane-force wind in your stomach telling you to run for the hills and call time on Steve and bench him.

These flags can mount up (I’m pretty sure I’ve had enough to wind-turbine power a small village) ignoring them petulantly before they stack up in their thousands, and the final flag, the straw that broke the camel’s back, will bring the whole pack of cards crashing down. At that point, you can often be so deep into a toxic situation the breakup-pain is severe. Pay attention to those red flags early on and don’t ignore your gut’s very smart, very guiding intuition.

What I have learnt about dating

People will project their insecurities on you and vice versa

Got your deepest insecurities festering inside you without ever having addressed the root and yoinked it out and out to be analysed and dissected like a rotten, festering tooth? Well, expect them to come bubbling up and projected in high-beam onto your partner. Deep-seated insecurities will always worm their way up and those of us who don’t tackle them head on will often project these issues, whether that’s fears of rejection, intimacy, connection, sharing your last Rollo, straight onto our unassuming partner. I’ll toss my hand up and admit I’ve been guilty of that and I’ve experienced it in return. Let’s just admit our problems people, face them, and be healthier for it.

Never compromise your own health at the expense of someone else’s idiocy

What I have learnt about dating

As time goes by, you will begrudgingly admit that the wise elders of your world, who have indeed maintained their position as elders until, croak, you suddenly find yourself uncontrollably spinning towards adulthood with alarming ferocity towards elder-dem yourself, were right all along. Health is king, and in fits of passion, our resolve can waver. Why? Often because someone else metaphorically plants a sneaky, sinister seed of ‘oh, wouldn’t it be better to not use protection”. “It’s comfier for me”, “I can’t do it using it”. “I have some other ambivalent ridiculous excuse I stash in my pea-sized scull to disarm bed-mates with”. Do not stoop to these levels and potentially risk your own health for the sake of (let’s face it) an average of 8 minutes of intimacy. Don’t. Do. It.

You can influence someone but ultimately can’t change them

We’ve all heard that age-old adage of “oh but I CAN change them”, and I’m pretty sure if I polled the lot of you reading, a huge proportion would raise their hands if asked “have you ever thought you could change someone”? Have you dated someone with bad habits, potentially damaging and toxic, but convinced yourself that a sprinkle of your goodness and time will resolve the problem and will change them for the better? OK so yes, people can change, but YOU aren’t responsible for an individual’s entire metamorphosis. This can be draining beyond belief and I’ve felt the life suck out of me in a near vampiric fashion when attempting to “change” someone. A spade’s a spade and try with all your might until you’re blue in the face, you can’t shove a square peg in a round hole. Case closed.

Has lockdown changed your relationship for better or worse? Read more.

By Sophie

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