My Musings on Dating

I have about three months before I turn 27 and I have some things to say about dating:

Dating is hard.

Maybe it’s because my free time is limited or because I moved to a new place and I don’t have an ongoing social scene. Heck, maybe it’s my more introverted “too many new people makes me a bit crazy” personality but no matter the reason, I come up with the same conclusion: Dating is HARD.

Not every woman or man at this age is looking to play around or date ever so casually. Not all of us can simply “not think about it too much” or “not feel anything”.  Some of us are really wanting a genuine connection with someone special and for some of us that never actually seems to happen.

Some of us are always having to deal with the question “So why don’t you have a boyfriend/girlfriend” and/or “Are you ever going to get married?” like men/women magically fall from the sky and are perfect for us. ( Newsflash to the people who ask these questions: STOP. STOP making single people explain themselves to you. THEY owe YOU not a single explanation for their lives.) 

What really makes dating difficult is that little part of your brain that keeps the compatibility scorecard. I honestly think everyone has this part in their brains, but some of us think of it way more often.  This is the part of your brain that will ask ” but what do we really have in common and is that enough to sustain ANY sort of relationship?” Your scorecard has to be realistic but not to the point of where you’re bored in your relationship. This scorecard contains all your “deal-breakers” and the things you can negotiate and compromise on.

And you know what?

Your scorecard can and often will change with time and experience. So what you tolerated in your college relationship at 20, might not be something you are willing to deal with at 25.

Right now, at 26, I’m watching  many of my friends re-negotiate their scorecards and other who have found the balance they’re looking for and settled into great relationships.

While I wish I could say I have all this figured out, I don’t. I’m not sure when I might have it figured out. I try not to put a deadline on my personal development but it’s hard when you’re watching people fall in love and build lives together (thanks social media).

So again I say : Dating is hard and I don’t know if it ever gets easy.

Sit down with a teen/tween (and some adults too) in your life and watch a couple of episodes of Teen Mom 2

This post probably sounds silly. You’re probably thinking “Why would I ever watch that show? It just glorifies teen motherhood and made celebrities out of a few young women for having kids before they were prepared to,”.

Well, you’re right! The 16 and Pregnant/Teen Mom franchise that has been produced by MTV for more than 5 years now HAS indeed created celebrities out of young, mostly white women for having children when they were still children themselves. This, however, does not mean you can’t use this show as an educational tool.

I’ve watched the recent season of Teen Mom 2 online mostly and with every single episode I watched I kept thinking “My GOD how could anyone watching this want to get pregnant or put themselves in any of these situations?!” I’m 25 years old and some of the things these young women are dealing with (for instance, being married and divorced twice, all while raising three kids and struggling with depression in her early 20’s) scare me!

Take some time to sit down with a teen/tween or even a young adult in your life and really analyze one of these episodes. Look at the problems these young women are dealing with and really, REALLY discuss why they are problems and how they could be avoided!  Even the mother who is doing the best on the show at any given time is probably having “baby daddy drama”, whether it’s about custody arrangement or child support.

My main point is this: Teem Mom and 16 and Pregnant can illustrate something a lot of teen don’t really think about- the very, very, very, very long term consequences of our actions. These young women participating in these shows have no idea that parenthood is a LIFETIME commitment and so is the person you choose to have a baby with, whether you stay with them romantically or not.

I can’t say that simply watching Teen Mom/16 and Pregnant can completely convince young people to not have sex or at least not have children before they are good and ready, but I think the shows can concretely illustrate the complexities and consequences of choices and relationships. We’re always talking to kids about sex, and less often relationships, but this show can help a young person really see how different choices can play out across time.

If you don’t believe me, I challenge you to just watch an episode of one of these shows and at the end, try naming two or three things you learned from the episode and think if you would have liked to have learned those things when you were a teenager.  If your answer is yes, which I really think it will be, you’ll see my point.