Dating in your 20's (without apps)

Let's dive in. First let me say, people have been dating pre-apps forever, so, you can too if you want! 

Once upon a time I had an AWESOME first date with a guy. We were outdoors, it was a beautiful day and we had great conversation. The next date? AWFUL. His dog peed on my favorite white dress and I'll leave it at that. We met on an app and to this day I'm proud of myself for going on the first date because I put myself out there. I tried something new and it went well, for the first date at least ha. Needless to say it didn't work long term, but I think the main thing that I want to drive home when it comes to dating is to continually try new things that may be out of your comfort zone, not to attract a guy necessarily, but to open yourself up to learning new things and having fun with them! I would go to the movies by myself, eat out alone, do things solo to build up confidence in doing so. It helped in other areas of life! 

Here are a few other random dating tips I learned over the years:

1. Around 22, I learned to always go on the first date (as long as you feel safe!), because it took a lot of guts for the guy to ask you out and even if it doesn't work out, being a great conversationalist is a huge life skill that can't always be taught. Best case you leave with an unexpected crush. Worst case you leave with clarity, a lesson learned and maybe a friend. This is in a face to face kind of situation or a friendship, not necessarily the case when we are speaking about apps. 

2. Instead of your phone screen, go places you enjoy and will probably frequent long term because chances are, you'll meet someone with a similar interest there, which is a great place to start. Volunteer somewhere, join an adventure group or meet up. I did that when I first moved to Nashville and still keep in touch with some of the people! 

3. Make your intentions clear. If you don't like them, be honest about it. I was bad about this because I enjoyed the company of a date, but that can give mixed signals to the guy and end up with both of you hurt in the long run. Know when to walk away and call, "NEXT!" even if you just enjoy their company. That is what we call self discipline, which we don't practice enough these days. 

4. Embrace the awkward. First dates and second dates, even third dates can be SO AWKWARD!! You don't know what to do with your hands, the tab and the texts, but embrace it! Don't over apologize, don't beat yourself up, and have fun! Also, ask the other person about themselves because everyone loves talking about themselves and you can find some commonalities that you might like!

I think the most important thing I was missing the mark on, was who I was in the process. When I would meet guys I would try to mold myself into their type. Oh, you like girls who work out? I used to Crossfit.  How about outdoorsy? I hike with my dog at Edwin Warner almost every day! Musical? Let's sing! Even though I vowed to never Crossfit again, I passed out on a hike one day when I saw a snake and I have INSANE stage fright, I would highlight the *true* things about my life I felt were relevant, just to add a little oomph to my already impressive list of interests. 

It wasn't until I stripped it all away and healed from all past wounds and drew close to the Lord, did I step into my full, confident self and ended up meeting Justin on a blind date! I remember how lame it was to hear, "Focus on your relationship with the Lord" when I was really wanting to hear anything but that. However, THAT was when I became my most true and authentic self, creating a healthy space to meet someone new. 

It's funny when I hear one of my single friends hesitate to talk to me about dating because, "I wouldn't understand" & I'm like.. yo... I've only been married for TWO YEARS. Literally my life before that was everything you're experiencing and I still vividly remember it all! Lean on your married friends, just don't try and "match" their story or use their story to find identity or hope because everyone is crazy different! 

Lastly, I'll say this. If you want to try an app, that's okay as long as you control the app and the app doesn't control you. YOU set your standards and boundaries and stick to them! Be honest and don't forget to try new things!!