Hump Day Crush: Why Not Just Date?

Many people out there get into the habit of dating in high school.

After all, that’s when we first have the time and inclination to really interact with the opposite sex to any extent. That’s when all those hormones get pumping and we start to feel all sorts of tingly in all sorts of places. And, perhaps most influentially, that’s when all those people in the movies and on TV start the whole dating thing.

It’s just what we’re supposed to do, right?

Sure. Except dating doesn’t work all that well for everyone. I’d go as far to say that dating doesn’t work all that well for most people. Just look around at your friends. How many have been in one bad relationship after another? How many can’t stand to be single for any length of time? How many keep repeating old mistakes?

Or maybe you’re someone like me. Dating never worked out all that well for me. Especially in high school. Yeah, I went on dates. I can even say I went on dates with two women at once and smile, knowingly, while you gape in awe. But when I tell the whole story, you’ll see that’s not quite what it seems it could be.

In high school, fueled by years of classic movies and television, propelled forward by my own turbulent inner urges, every now and then I’d actually get around to asking someone out. Every time, of course, it was someone I had a crush on. The high time of my dating career was in my junior year.

Back then, there was one girl in particular that I asked out more than a handful of times. Her name was Dee. She was a couple of years younger and she was pretty darn neat by my standards. Over the time we knew each other, I found out she played the violin, was a semi-pro ice skater, intelligent and downright spunky. She was also tall with long, thick, wavy hair and sparkling brown eyes that virtually glowed when she smiled.

Yeah, I was hooked right away.

I asked her out more than a few times. For me, that was a big step. Even more impressive was the fact that she said yes half the time.

Of course, with every affirmative answer, there were caveats.

Usually they were along the lines of “Sure, a movie sounds great. In fact my friend and I were already going. That’s OK, right?”

Always, I said “Yeah, it is” with a big, dumb, self-satisfied grin on my face.

And, always, I’d somehow end up paying for three dinners and three movie tickets.

At least once the girls sat a row ahead of me at the movie and didn’t talk to me much at all the whole night.

Obviously, I was way too dumb and blind to be dating. None of that even struck me as all that wrong back then. If it had, I would most certainly have stopped. Or, maybe, insisted on a normal date for once.

Not to say those times weren’t fun. They most certainly were. But they really stretch the definition of “date” to the breaking point?

But why did I do that? Why did I let that happen?

The answer is simple: Because I didn’t know any better.

Back then, I didn’t know what I was worth as a person. I was just starting to discover who I really was and still hadn’t even begun to actually like myself. And if you don’t like yourself, no one else is going to really like–or respect–you. More often than not, they’ll just use you.

So, over time, I turned away from dating. The dates I have been on have, for the most part, been comical examples of bad timing.

When you don’t date, you have time to really think about things. Time to sit back and actually watch what’s going on. Time to focus on getting to know yourself. All of that time and knowledge can then be put into a Grown Up Crush regime of self-development.

What does that mean, though?

Basically, it means that you can learn to avoid the common dating mistakes–and the unnecessary pain and suffering they cause–by taking care of your most important relationship first. That would be your relationship with yourself.

If you’re comfortable with yourself, you will be able to more easily interact with others on multiple levels. You won’t be limited–or blinded–by those amorphous base drives that throw so many high school relationships into chaos. If you are happy with who you are, if you are your own best friend, you will be able to be a whole person whether you are dating someone or not.

Most importantly, after a few years of working through Grown-Up Crushes, you’ll have a solid group of diverse friends around that will both bring you into contact with amazing new people (who are often great choices for either a new crush or, if you’re ready for it, actually dating) and be there to help pick you up if things don’t work out with a potential significant other.

I was never good at dating in high school. I’m still not that good at dating. But I am relatively good with relationships. When you really get down to it, your romantic life can be about quality instead of quantity. Mine has, and I’m at least as happy as friends of mine who’ve been dating consistently for years.

Both ways work–and I am certain there are other ways than just those two. There’s no amount of cultural pressure that should keep you from following the path that works best for you.

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