Bad First Impression And Blind Date Concept. Dissatisfied shocked black woman rejecting excited emotional obsessed man who giving her flowers, young couple sitting at table in cafe

4 Things I Wish I Knew Sooner About Dating In My 20s

“Damn, that was embarrassing” 

How many times have you looked back at your past love life or the choices you made and said this? Or wished you did something (or someone) differently?  

For me, it happens a lot. 

Dating in my early 20s was nothing short of chaotic. Kinda fun, but chaotic. I spent too long holding onto outdated, immature, or, downright, false bits of advice to get my “happily ever after”. 

After several years of some lousy dates, regrettable decisions, and dead-end relationships, I matured, got to know myself better, and learned what I want (and didn’t want).  

Though there’s still much more to be discovered, I can confidently say that I would’ve avoided a lot of the BS if I knew these four things sooner: 

Do What Feels Comfortable 

One thing about me, I overanalyze everything; I’m constantly in my head about what I did, how I did it, and how someone else would perceive it. (Could be a by-product of my profession as a communicator, but I’m trying to be better.)

Should I say that? Should I wear this? Am I too eager? Too nonchalant? Did that “heyyyyyy” have too many Y’s? What if I’m still hungry after ordering the salad? Will he think that joke was funny? What will happen if I don’t want to have sex with him? What will he think if that’s all I want to do? 

That’s just the tip of the iceberg that is my racing mind. 

Thankfully, I learned to follow this simple, but golden, rule: do whatever tf you want to do (#respectfully)

So girl, enjoy the lunch. Text them first. Or don’t. Wear the comfortable outfit. Share your joke. F*ck their brains out [safely] on the first, fifth, or hundredth night, should you feel inclined to. 

Don’t perform, just show up. Only you know what feels authentic to you. 

Chemistry is Instant, Compatibility Isn’t

For the longest time, I believed that chemistry and compatibility were interchangeable. 

I’d start talking to a guy, realize we have the same taste in music, movies, hobbies, or humor, and decide we should be together. Then I’d be confused when it didn’t last. *sigh*    

Finding “the one” doesn’t mean finding a clone of ourselves; chemistry is way too easy to find to let this guide our decision-making. While having it is important, and makes for the start of a great relationship, it doesn’t automatically mean that a long-term romantic relationship will work. 

The way I see it: having successful relationships is kinda like building a home. Chemistry is the electricity, or the “spark”. Is a relationship better with the spark? Definitely. It brings light and heats up all the things. But what happens when the rain comes? The sparks fade. 

The wood, steel, concrete, bricks, blocks–the solid foundation. That’s what compatibility is for your home.

Do you communicate well? Do you feel safe? Protected? Do you live similar lifestyles? Do you share the same values? The answers to these questions will help us determine if we are compatible with someone. And it takes time to figure this stuff out. 

While we can sense chemistry with someone almost instantly, we likely won’t know if we are compatible with someone long-term within the first few months. 

I’m not saying that relationships can’t exist without one or the other, but having a good amount of both is the sweet spot. We won’t get 100% of both chemistry and compatibility in a relationship, and we shouldn’t be looking for that.

Being Direct Gets You Everywhere

This one is sort of an extension of the first thing; when we’re comfortable and confident enough in what we want, it makes it easier to express it to others. 

It’s not a good idea to be passive aggressive and play games to get what you want. It rarely works. Stop putting the ball in someone else’s court. 

If you want to talk to them, hit them up. 

If you want to see them, tell them. 

If you’re looking for something more serious, be clear about that. 

If you don’t want to do any of the above, you should definitely let them know. 

Stop wasting everyone’s time and get to the point: what do you want to do? 

The worst thing they can say in response is no, which isn’t really a bad thing in the long run because, again, time saved. 

Luck and Timing–Sometimes That’s Really It

We can hope, pray, affirm, and manifest a great partner all we want, but much of the success  in our love lives comes down to good timing and luck. 

Think of the phrase “right person, wrong time”; I can’t say that I believe that phrase is 100% true all the time but I think it plays a significant role in romance.

When you start spending time with someone, are you in a position to get closer to them? Are they? Is school or career too demanding? Are you/they navigating a painful breakup? Answers to questions like these will affect how ready and available you are for a relationship. 

Truth be told, we are all one choice away from our future. You probably wouldn’t be where (or with whom) you are if you didn’t attend that school, hit that party, answer that DM, join that club, or (in my case) go to that brunch. Everything is circumstantial. 

This isn’t to get you to accept every invite or respond to every DM, but moreso to ease your mind. There’s no foolproof plan, method, or rulebook to follow for this sh*t, so give yourself some grace when it comes to finding your partner. 

Please y’all, be better than me. Keep these four things in mind while you’re dating and you’ll save yourself lots of embarrassment, headaches, and heartbreak. 

What are some other things you wish you knew sooner about dating? Share them in the comments below! 

Written by: B. Sierra

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