by Shannon Cerny
Someone once told me that there were three buckets of women, three types...but that I did not fit into any of them. I was a fourth bucket. Of course I took it as a compliment having always valued being different, everyone knows vanilla is for suckers. Before you start using #fourthbucket, please realize that he did not mean it as a compliment.
The world of dating is undeniably messy, mine specifically historically has been a dumpster fire with moments of brilliance, intrepid abandon, followed by absolute decimation. Sometimes all on the first date. This is my cautionary tale, my cliff notes, my laughable, teachable, comical footnotes to a dating life lived and what I learned along the way.
Strategy does not matter.
As I wrote that, a part of my logical, business-oriented soul died but it is true, sadly. I had an optimistic period where I went on a date with anyone who asked...that did not last long. Then I decided I would talk for a month minimum before meeting - sort of a "shake the tree to see if there is any crazy first" approach. I found plenty of crazy. Finally I decided to text, talk, date - get to the moment of truth and fast because at 39 I don't need a pen pal or a catfish. I wasted less time and more time at the same time.
People say things and do things that make literally no sense whatsoever. They are a collection of their experiences and often how they treat you shows how they feel about themselves. That being said, some people are just not functional human beings. Such as the guy who reached across the table and grabbed my hair, tugged at it and said "that'll do"...on a first date, an only date. Or the guy that upon realizing he knew my ex-husband, tried to slid his hand down my back into my pants, before I almost broke his hand and more. When people show you who they are, believe them and ask for the check.
Everyone has a past but meeting them on the first date doesn't make for a second date.
I have listened to dates complain about their ex, bash their ex, very clearly not be over their ex, and most notably invite them to our first date. To be fair, this date did call as I was driving to our date to tell me he was going to the emergency room and I should have said no when he asked me to meet him there but his ex-wife was the last thing I expected when I walked in that hospital room. That date went on to be my best worst first date ever. It is epic, buy me a beer and I will tell you the rest...it gets worse and better simultaneously. You're welcome.
To be clear, I am not unique as almost all my single friends, men and women alike, have had equally strange experiences, unplanned adventures in the off-road, all terrain pursuit of love. Here's the real thing, the moment of truth...the best relationships of my life happened when I stopped giving a shit, took a break from looking, and generally decided to live my life. It turns out that the very best method to the madness of dating might just be having no plan at all, no expectations, no intention whatsoever. Really? Really.
What to do now? I mean everyone is making plans and resolutions for 2016 - so what exactly do I put in the annual life management project plan mega-matrix? Maybe be audacious and just focus on you, because the best laid plans become the worst dates ever.
But what do you DO? You unapologetically fill the fourth bucket.