Sex and the Single Fat Girl: Failing for Happiness
Posted by Guest in Getting Real,Sex + Relationships
My dating history probably looks like many of yours: some good, some bad, with a few twists, turns, and surprise endings. We're all full of hope and idealism at the beginning sometimes enough to smother the little voice whispering that this is a Very Bad Idea - while at the end, we usually vow to never make that mistake again. This is why, despite my long string of failed relationships, I don't regret a single one.

The good guys and the good traits remind us of what we truly want, be it qualities in personality, looks, or relationship dynamics. This is incredibly important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps sustain our hope that our dreams will become a reality, even when things are bad. Second, it helps to keep us from becoming too cynical or bitter about the prospect of love. We all need a reminder that there are lovely, charming people out there who dig us.

When it comes to the failures, let me make one thing clear: a relationship isn't a failure just because it doesn't lead to marriage. The failures that make great war stories later on, the ones that become classic examples of what not to do - these grizzly tales have ultimately helped me find increasingly better relationships. My dating scenarios usually started out in one of two ways: I deliberately ignored my intuition, accumulated wisdom, and the array of red flags warning me to stay away, or after ending something with a bad guy or a bad relationship, I'd run toward guys with opposite qualities. If Mr. Wrong was an anti-intellectual who refused to read, the next guy I'd date was going to be a professor. If he was too controlling and selfish, the next guy would need to fall all over himself to make me happy. I knew all of these are pairings wouldn't work from the start, but I'm stubborn that way.

Over the course of my twenties, I'm finding that the pendulum swings are less and less extreme. I'm finally able to identify people and potential relationships that strike a happy medium. By taking chances on guys who strongly exhibited certain qualities, I got an intensive course in whether or not I actually liked and wanted that quality in a partner, how much I'm willing to put up with, and which traits are necessary and which are optional. I was never inundated with such information when I dated men who were utterly safe, without even the merest hint of danger or fear of getting hurt.

A sneaky fact about those seductive qualities that attract us, even though we know it might be a bad idea? They're often a hair's breadth removed from the quality we really want in a person. Say you want someone who will be a good provider with a stable job. You might think an up-and-coming junior executive is the perfect guy--until you date him and discover you can't have a relationship with someone who works 90+ hours a week. I did that, but now I'm dating someone who makes less money, but is really responsible with it and has a great work ethic. Rich and powerful is nice, but I'll take stability and having a highly involved relationship over that any day.

If you haven't done it in a while, I encourage you to look back on past disasters and make a list of "must haves" and deal-breakers in a potential partner. You might be surprised how experience and time has shifted your priorities and the qualities you're looking for. Even though the relationships weren't all good, having the wisdom of your own life refined and set down on paper in front of you is a very good thing indeed. By being willing to take a few calculated risks to move your ship out of the safe harbor of "good enough," you might find yourself winning the dating game.

Tell me about your dating mistakes - what have they taught you, what qualities did you discover mattered to you as a result?