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When friends, family and others try to get involved in your romantic life

With Valentine’s Day here, I wanted to show some love – for the single people out there! This year’s V-Day events have been impacted by COVID-19, but that doesn’t change the overall mood that single pringles must face around this time of year. For some, it might be every day of every month, however winter and spring are more common times for love and relationships. It’s around this time of year, especially, that the Daterade begins to pour in from people around you. This word was inspired by the well-known term “haterade“; which means excessive negativity, criticism, or resentment. In the case of “Daterade“, I use it to mean excessive questions, comments, and assistance regarding one’s dating life. Most of you have probably experienced this in some way, shape, or form. Whenever your mom tries to nudge you about asking that person for their phone number or wondering when are you going to give them grandkids. Or your friends trying to peek at your phone, as they wonder who is texting you at this time of day. It might even be coworkers seeing what weekend stories you have to share by the water cooler on Monday morning. It can be truly annoying, and believe me when I say I know the struggle.

When I graduated with my friends from high school, we sort of had ideas as to what would happen first among us. These ideas were things such as the first among us to get a job, the first to go abroad, and (of course) the first to fall into a relationship. And believe it or not, my friends and family had me pegged to be the first to find someone out of our little group. This was even before the “Hitch” moniker came to be for myself. Fast forward to today, and I stand as one of the last survivors of the pringles. Even those who went through break-ups or divorce eventually found themselves in another relationship. Over time, I noticed how the daterade changed amongst my friends and family. In the early days, they were curious as can be with their million questions; tracking how the progress was going with someone I was talking to. At first, I was an open book about it; willing to take any advice or wisdom. But as dates began to not work out, I started to close the book a bit.

I didn’t want to have to sit at the table with friends, and tell them I stopped talking to another woman. For those who’ve read my older relationship posts, you may recall the metaphor of being in a scary movie. You know – when you’re the only one that sees something bad approaching, while everyone else says you’re crazy until it’s too late? My friends would get frustrated that I’d stop talking to someone, and insist I should’ve stayed with them, but I had my reasons which were mainly mismatch in personality and goals/dreams. But friends and family sometimes don’t get it, as they might focus too much on looks and smarts primarily. My friends certainly focused on that, but after introducing one date to them (later on) they got an idea of what I meant about mismatch. So I eventually stopped giving people updates on my dating life. Not only to get them off my back with their questions, but to not frustrate them every time a date didn’t last. For a time, it worked until the daterade took on another form.

People love mystery. Even more, they love to uncover the mystery. As years went by (during my mid-20s and onwards), people were wondering how the dating life was going; since it’s been a while since the last update. Family always was curious if I was going to bring someone home for them to meet. Friends wanted the scoop on if a new member was going to join the group soon, or they just wanted bedroom gossip. And practically every new person (classmate, co-workers/supervisors, acquaintances, etc.) eventually inquired about if I was single or taken; following up with asking why I was single. The more I diverted from this topic, the more the detectives came out. Everyone had a hypothesis as to what goes on in my life: was he just focusing on his career, has he been seeing someone the past few weeks, or was it someone different every week? And I stayed mostly quiet, because I wanted to commit to my promise that they won’t know anything until the time’s right. Has that stopped them? Noooo. Even if I said I was focusing on my studies or work, they never believed me. Anytime my phone pings, and they know it’s clearly not from them, they’ll ask who it is that’s texting me. They sure can be nosy, am I right? Do you know anyone in your life who’s like that?

While some have conceded that either he’s just not focused on dating, or keeping it private, others have taken it as a challenge to help the man who’s good at helping others’ relationship lives. They wanted to fix up Hitch with someone. But the common issue was the same as the scary movie metaphor: they focused too much on looks and smarts. It’s not necessarily wrong, as it is important to an extent, but we must remember it’s also subjective. Whom they might consider pretty, I might not necessarily agree with. They might be book smarts, but perhaps they weren’t street smarts. The mysteriousness, the resistance to their help, and more eventually led many to believe one thing; perhaps Hitch is just too picky. And yet, has that stopped the daterade? No it has not.

I’ve never really seen myself as picky, but I do see how friends and others might think it. This could be another post soon that explores rules and preferences. Some people have strict rules, such as “he must have a beard” or “she needs to have a master’s degree”. Others have preferences like “it’d be nice if she had a singing voice” or “him being over 6 feet would be great”. They may try to meet those preferences, but they’re also open to those outside the parameters. That’s where some tend to confuse it with me; those preferences coming off as rules. After all the dates, and seeing other’s relationships as I grew up, I just have a more clearer idea of what I look for; that might appear set in stone. But my preferences are flexible as well, although friends and family struggle to see it. Yet while the attempts at “fixing up” have waned, and the questions regarding specifics have calmed down, the daterade has entered the next phase. The era of the 30’s.

Daterade can tie into general life stages that people typically finds themselves in. Most people in their late teens and early 20’s explore and try to find themselves, while mid to late 20’s are starting to cement themselves someplace. As you enter the 30’s, you start to build on that foundation. Now that I’m 29, and turning 30 at the end of this year, friends and family (who’ve been less chatty about dating for some time) have begun to ramp things up again. The questions are less specific and more about if/when I’m going to find someone because they do care and want to see me with someone. Not that any of us NEED someone, as we can live our lives okay on our own. But family and friends eventually go for different reasons; jobs, family, passing away, etc.. It won’t always be like Mamma Mia, where you and your friends will be single for decades and sticking by each other’s sides. And while some are better alone, it’s nice to have a partner to roll through the ups and downs of life with. The 30’s are a time that is typically defined by growing your career and starting a family. Friends and family know I’d like to have a family sooner (early-to-mid 30’s) rather than later (late 30’s to early 40’s) if it happens. So I can see why their curiosity is rising again. It’s something I have to prepare for, much like many of you out there might be sharing the same sentiment.

A lot of you out there probably are relating to this very much right now in your life or have related at some point before finding your significant other. Maybe your grandmother once insisted to that person that they should go out with you, or your friends getting the attention of that guy for you. Or perhaps your co-worker telling you if that person down the hall is single or not. When people you know, or new people you meet, inquire about or partake in the goings on in your dating world it can be frustrating and annoying. Some ask out of care, others just curious, while a few just want to be nosy and hear something exciting in their mundane life. This post is not just a little life story, but to share with other singles of how I’ve dealt with it. There is no overcoming it, because no matter where you go, as long as you’re visibly single, people will eventually ask about it as they get to know you. Unless you choose not to open up to anyone at all, or bluntly say you don’t want to talk about it, it’s a topic that is sure to come up.

But there is a way to deal with it, that I’ve learned over the years can be helpful. That way is to open up and talk about it. Plot twist. You probably are thinking, “didn’t you just walk through your life discussing how you kept it quiet?” You would be very right on that, except that was the early part of my life, not as much recently as I approach the third decade of my life. Certainly, you can try and do what I’ve done and just be hush about it, however people will still try and see what’s going on. The air of mystery opens doors for them to speculate about you: are you not interested, a player, already with someone? They might try and introduce you to someone they think you’d like. But if you don’t open up, chances are, they will find the wrong person for you. You don’t have to open up and tell them everything, by the way. You don’t have to discuss every date, good or bad, that you go through; or who or how many people you are seeing. It is entirely up to you, so long as you are open to talking about the topic.

In the past, I was silent and playing coy like I had no idea what friends and family were talking about. Now I’m more open to discussing where I’m at in my life. Are you at a point in your life where you want to focus on yourself? Do you want to finish your studies or get that dream job? Are you just looking for fun or are you interested in dating? Simply discussing this can help shed speculation and get some people to ease up on certain questions or attempts to assist. I also am open to discussing what I look for in someone, and that can help others know if you’re serious or still unsure of what you want. If you’re unable to say what you look for, it can show you still haven’t figured out yourself and the type of people who compliment you. But if you can clearly state what you’d like in someone, they know you got this covered. This also assists others in whether they can try to set you up with someone or not. Stating what you look for lets them see if there’s anyone they know that matches or not; which is a lot better than friends and family grasping at straws seeing if that person will work for you.

It’s tough sometimes to be single, I know, especially during this time of year; and on this day. Much of the posts on Instagram can be too lovey, when you just want to see travel posts or you want to enjoy the television and not be bombarded with dating ads. You can look away from that, and you might think you can do the same with the people in your life. But I have to be honest with you – there’s no stopping your mother, grandparents, best friends, etc. from prying into the dating/relationship part of your life. The best you can do is kind of like what you’re trying to do in the dating world: be willing to put yourself out there and open up to others. In this case, you don’t have to be open about everything but give them a reason why. If you don’t want to share every dating experience, let them know if you’re uncomfortable with that or don’t want to get them invested until you’re sure it’s serious. Let them know where you’re at in your life, and if you’re even ready to be with someone. While friends and family have a sense of who you are, not all of them will be able to gauge what you look for in others perfectly. So help others out and be open to talking a little bit about your dating/relationship life, and you’ll see the daterade that can sometimes be annoying start to lessen or even turn around and be helpful. Just know you don’t have to be embarrassed of or hide your singleness – it’s just the way life went for you and there’s millions of others out there in the same boat. Eventually, you’ll find someone (if you want) as long as you are open to it. And, no matter what, you have those in your life who are there for you to listen and assist, if needed. Dealing with the daterade doesn’t always have to be annoying, as it can provide good things too. . . even if it’s coming from nosy people. But I know the struggle, trust me, I know.

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