Anyone who knows me can tell you that I seem to attract the scum of the earth when it comes to dating. When I say I’ve been through almost every variation of unhealthy relationships, I mean it. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had a truly healthy relationship in college.
Yes, all of my experiences were painful in some way, but if I could go back in time and stop my former self from dating those guys, I don’t think I would. Hear me out: Of course it was awful to go through the things I did (i.e. getting cheated on a week before my birthday, being emotionally abandoned after a car accident, etc.), but these experiences changed how I view myself and men, in positive and helpful ways.
Below, I’ve summarized a few of the things I’ve learned about myself and men through my college dating experiences, in hopes that you can learn from my mistakes. At the very least, I hope you’ll get inspired to take a harder look at your own dating patterns.
How I view myself:
One of my favorite books is The Perks of Being a Wallflower (seriously, read it if you haven’t already!), and in that book there is the famous line “we accept the love we think we deserve.” I have struggled with depression on and off throughout my life, and for a while I really didn’t think I was good enough for anyone. This mentality led me to a long string of guys who treated me terribly, and I just accepted it because I thought that was the kind of “love” I deserved.
Now that I have had more experience, I’m a firm believer that in order to meet someone who’ll love you, you need to love yourself first. When you love yourself, I truly believe you attract better people into your life both as friends and significant others.
I also think that self-love plays a big part in who you choose to allow into your life. You are better equipped to recognize people for who they are and can more easily weed out the negative people. When you value yourself, you won’t put up with people who bring you down and treat you badly.
Most of all, I have realized that looking for love when you do not feel whole rarely amounts to anything good. You are just desperate for comfort and end up accepting anybody into your life in order to distract yourself from the real problems you are facing. This is almost always a losing proposition.
What I look for in guys:
Throughout all my terrible dating experiences I have been able to glean a few things I love and hate in a guy. This has been valuable information for me moving forward in the dating world. I encourage you to check out my list and make your own!
Even though most of the guys I have dated are jerks and I would caution any girls from dating them (I know it sounds bitter), there are things about them that I did like about them. For example, I learned that I love getting random texts from a guy to remind me of how much I mean to him. This always felt so special to me. I also learned I like when a guy has a dorky side, because then I can rope him into watching sci-fi with me. I also like when a guy has a close-knit family, so I seek that out now.
Of course, I also picked up on some things to avoid in the future. I’ve learned that many times, someone’s past isn’t really in the past – it’s good to be wary if a guy has recently gotten out of a relationship. The more recent the relationship, the more you should hesitate to get involved. I also realized that a sense of humor is paramount, and if he doesn’t get my humor, it won’t work. My biggest red flag? When a guy has no interest in meeting my family and friends: Hello, zero long-term potential.
What have your college relationships taught you?
Relationships, both good and bad, can teach you a lot. They may hurt you at times, but try to remember that every bad experience is also a learning experience that will hopefully lead you closer to that special someone.
When it comes to relationships in college, the best thing you can do is to focus on loving yourself, surround yourself with positive people, and take stock of the things you’ve learned after each relationship, both good and bad. I wish all of you luck on your dating endeavors, and I’m right there with you.