I did the first grade paper-plane texts. First dates at McDonald’s at 6pm, without a cell phone to let him know I was running late. I sent SMS texts with read receipts. I went on fix ups. I got heart broken by my first love. I ticked the holiday love. I did the fuck friends thing. Long distance relationships. Short distance relationships. Ego-driven relationships. Work relationships.
I’ve been on over 30 Tinder dates searching for him. I found so many reasons „why not him” that every time I complained to my friends, their constant reaction backfired into blaming me: they figured I don’t really know what I’m looking for.
I could have bet they were wrong. Because, instead of assuming everybody was extremely lucky to get hooked for life faster than a commercial break – while I was on my countless screw-up, I was sure that knowing what, or more exactly who, you’re looking for, takes time, a lot of bad dates and a few amazing EX-es.
Time is what you need to get to know yourself before you can get to know anybody else. And in order to do that you have to become yourself. You have to live through all that teen excruciating dramas. You have to make best friends and see which ones will last well into your 30’s. You have to get drunk and wake up in strange places. Work 24/7. Get that promotion. Learn to ride a motorcycle. Get to know your favorite movie lines by heart. Choose your favorite authors. Quit your job. Dance at festivals. Look in the mirror. Lose weight. Change your hair color. Look in the mirror again. Accept that you are enough. Decide to never take yourself or others for granted.
Then, go on a lot of bad dates. Have dinner in fancy places and boring company. Have your expectations crushed by the cute guy sitting across from you trying to convince you the earth is flat. Cancel one first date because of too many typos. Have that „perfect on paper” boyfriend that turns out has everything, except chemistry. Hook up with that player and try to turn him around. Be the other woman and decide if that is really someone you can be. Go for the younger guy and take a break from adulting. Date the older man and see yourself through his eyes. Have that work fling that keeps you high on adrenaline. Fall for the guy that writes you poems but forgets to text you back. Date one more time the one who got away.
Finally, spend some years next to someone who’s worth them. Get to meet that person that swipes you off your feet with words. Learn how it feels to be loved back. Get your heart broken. Break someone’s heart. Live through every touch of their skin and get it tattooed on your memory. Always remember how good it felt. Never forget that you can move on without it. Trade happiness for the same thing in return. Take all that and use it to set standards for what is to come. After you do, your friends might think you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Then tell them you are looking for better.
That if marriage is for better or worse, tell them you will only settle for better. For a better you. Search for someone who sees that in you, and who shows it to yourself. You will have a hard time believing it at first. Maybe you will think that he is making fun of you, until you share a bottle of wine one evening in your favorite pub and he tells you out of nowhere that other girls use Instagram filters and still don’t look as good as you do in reality. Keep searching for the one that makes you want to be better because you feel he deserves much more than you already are. Look for the guy that can talk dirty as well as he can talk about life. Find the one that makes you work harder at being the best at what you do. The one that gives you courage to follow your dreams and tells you passion is just a statement, without hard work. Keep searching for the one who’s words matter so much that you have no option but to rise to that standard. Who touches you in such a way that gives you the freedom to grow, and who gives you the certainty that you will continue doing so, whatever is to come.
And when you find that person, give them the same in return.