Dating as a bookstore

It’s common knowledge that girls talk about boys and dating. A lot. It’s assumed that once a girl reaches a certain age she becomes convinced that she will live out her days alone, with the pet of her choice. I want to change that image. Gone are the days where a girl hits 29 and decides she may as well give up. That’s a stupid trope anyway. I know so many people who waited until they found the perfect partner later in life. There’s a certain amount of maturity necessary from both parties to make a relationship work, a maturity that comes from knowing who you are right now. So many people never find that, causing unhappy relationships… So I say keep shopping. Shop until you know what you want for the different facets of yourself.

A friend and I were talking about dating the other day. She’s gorgeous, strong-willed, and refuses to take whatever crap a menopausal man deals out for her. If you cross her, she will leave. She knows what she wants and she’s learning to expect to receive what she deserves.

Sidebar: Why do we, as women, insist on lowering our worth? Is it because society tells us we should take up as little space as possible and be quiet and demure? Is it because we are conditioned to be appealing and easy-going because if we stand up for ourselves we appear masculine? Is it because we are conditioned to believe that our entire worth is based on our ability to find a man? I think it’s stupid.

Anyway, she’s absolutely amazing and single. I think it’s the greatest thing ever, because she can relax and be herself without anyone bugging her or dragging her down. She agrees. But we were talking about dating, and how it’s kind of like being in a bookstore. Bear with me for a second while I throw a bit of weird at you.

Let’s pretend we’re in a bookstore. It’s huge (think The Strand in New York). Books everywhere, practically falling on top of you. You pick up a book and read the back cover. It looks appealing. A love story with a dash of adventure and drama. You start reading and discover… It’s Twilight. Disgusted, you have two options. You can put it down and find a new book, or you can keep reading to the end to see if the story has a redeeming quality you’ve missed.

If you don’t put the book down you know that there’s a great chance of a disappointing ending. It’s a risk you willingly take on. If the story does, in fact, stink all the way through you will be disappointed. Maybe you’ll regret giving it a shot, maybe you’ll be glad you didn’t give up until the end. Either way, you set out knowing that you might not enjoy the book.

If you put the book down, you don’t actually have to keep looking. You can walk out of the store and go grab a coffee. Books aren’t actually a necessity anyway, you can entertain yourself in other ways. But if you do keep looking you realize that all those books near the front of the store are the best sellers. They’re you’re Twilight, your Fifty Shades of Grey, your genre-du-jour. But somewhere, in the back of that store, you know there’s a dusty copy of a classic. Maybe it’s Jane Eyre, maybe it’s a leather-bound edition of The Canterbury Tales. All you know is there is a perfect book for you in that store, and if you sift through those books and find your way to that far back dark corner, you’ll find it and it will make you happy.

So as my friend and I were talking about dating, and came up with this metaphor (full credit where it’s due, this is only half my brain child!) she seemed to relax. It’s hard to have exes that looked really great at first and turned out not to be (those back covers can really sell a bad story). Sometimes those exes are everywhere you turn (hello, Twilight and Fifty Shades. I hate you GTFO) and you can’t avoid them. You know that you’ll have to see them around, but you don’t have to open that book!

If you consider dating like going into a store for a new book, a lot of the weight and dread and disappointment falls away. Not all of it, of course. A disappointing relationship and breakup will always be upsetting. But if you remember that a first date is the beginning of a gamble, if you remember that you aren’t guaranteed to like a guy you date, it feels a lot less like “Why didn’t I see this before? This is all my fault I should have known better” and more like “Huh. That sucks. Maybe the next one will work.”

I wish I’d thought of this when I was in college. I could have used the idea that no, really, I can put the book down. So read away, people. Enjoy yourself? Try all the books you like, or none at all. Just remember, that back cover may not be true to the story! And that’s ok. You can always find a new book. 🙂

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