Subconsciously or consciously, how often do you find yourself apologizing? You slightly bump into a stranger and you mutter a ‘sorry.’ A coworker interrupts you, and yet, you find yourself stammering to apologize first. Or, perhaps just as frequently, you find yourself talking about a bad date and when you feel like your friend has had enough, you quickly quiet yourself, say you’re ‘sorry for venting’ and move on.
It’s a habit that many women (and men) are guilty of and one that’s difficult to break. Continuously shaming yourself doesn’t help build your confidence, and often times can be unattractive to possible boyfriends or girlfriends who are looking for a partner, not someone who can’t hold their own. While it might not feel like it’s in your nature to stand up, speak up, and be proud of your opinions, convictions, and emotions, chances are, your date will be impressed with your willingness to be open, vulnerable, and honest about how you think and feel.
In my past several years of being single and going on (way too many) dates, it’s taken me a lot of time (and wine) to finally figure out how to be brave enough to be myself. And while I haven’t met that right person yet, I have learned how to have courage and to stop apologizing for these things:
1. I’m not sorry that I expect you to communicate.
Online dating can wear on anyone – there’s constant back-and-forth exchanges, but very little face-to-face time to genuinely get to know someone. There’s also many messages to weed through that can be boring, rude or just plain ridiculous. For a while, I would always step up and speed up the conversation myself, oftentime apologizing for being so forward. The funny thing? Men never cared that I carried the conversation, but I did. In a future partner, I really want someone who is not only a talker, but that can ask interesting questions, have meaningful decisions, and hopefully, teach me a thing or two from his own wealth of wisdom. I’m not sorry that I want a communicator – I’m sorry I ever thought I could settle for less than that.
2. I’m not sorry that I have deal breakers.
Over the years, due to age and to what I’ve experienced in the dating world, my deal breakers have changed. I’ve become lenient on certain things, while other qualities matter much more to me than they did when I was in my early 20s. But oftentimes when a friend or family member asks you, ‘What was wrong with that guy?’ and you give them an answer as simple as, ‘The chemistry wasn’t there’ – they always raise an eyebrow.
For better or for worse, not being attracted to someone – regardless if that’s based on height, mannerisms, voice or a million other things – is just as important as their personality. And well, if it’s a big deal to you to be with someone who is ambitious or loving or has a great family, that’s fine. I’m no longer apologizing for being ‘too picky’ or ‘having too high of standards’ because I’m not and I don’t. I simply know what I want, and I know when it’s there or not. After all, practice makes perfect and dating is something I’ve definitely been working hard at.
3. I’m not sorry for being honest.
Yeah, I used to laugh at jokes that I thought were inappropriate, condescending or crude. And sure, I used to just go along with the conversation, even if I disagreed. I would bite my tongue to avoid confrontation, but now? I’m excited to share, unafraid to argue and convicted in my beliefs. If a date says something that I find offensive, I will politely call them out on it. If I really don’t want to split the cheese-and-meat platter, I’ll pass. If I don’t want to have another drink because I’m not interested, I won’t have one to save his feelings. I not only value my time (and my date’s time), but I know what I’m worth and I know that pretending to be attracted when I’m not, will only end in more disappointment than it’s worth.
4. I’m not sorry that I still want romance.
Now, you can skip the rose petals and the soft music with candles dimly lit in the background. But kind, thoughtful gestures – like opening the door for me – they’re still important. While the digital age and the generation of getting-what-we-want-when-we-want-it has made us all invested in an instant-gratification mantra, the reality is that there is still something sexy about mystery and romance. You could Google me and know everything, you could take me to the place with the most Yelp stars, or you could actually take the time to get to know me and not be afraid to express how you feel. To me, that willingness and those gentlemanly acts are the things that will make me feel connected and appreciated. And yes, in the mood, too.
5. I’m not sorry that I want real love.
The truth is, if I really wanted just any ‘ole boyfriend, I would have had a dozen by now. There have been plenty of fine guys, okay men, and dudes that likely would have wanted to be exclusive…but I would also be bored out of my mind. So many friends have given me a hard time or questioned if I would ever find a guy to hold my attention, but I’m not worried (most of the time). I would rather have the opportunity to meet someone special than to waste time with a fleeting relationship. There is so much of the world to see, so many adventures to have, and so many things to learn without being tied down to someone you don’t actually want to build a life with.