Has anyone else out there kept a now-embarrassing journal that documents a tumultuous time in your life? I sure did.
So while I was trolling through one of these magical gems from way back in 2007, I came across this amazing quote I wrote about my now-husband, JHubbs.
Let me set the scene: in 2007, JHubbs and I were in college and had just met in a gradutate school class about teaching middle schoolers to read. JHubbs was nerdy and unworldly. I was sassy and all about Hemingway and education in the annoying way that college students are. He was gawky, a little weird, and dressed like a preschooler. Yet for some reason I felt this strange compulsion to make out with him (sorry, mom!). I didn’t, but we kept hanging out and eventually he started to hint that he’d like to date.
Here’s how I responded to that in my journal:
Text: It would be no good to mess with [JHubbs]. Nothing good can come of this. It would never work & I would hate him & he would hate me. Just no good.
Let’s flash forward seven years and we’ve been happily married for two years. That speaks to my most-featured dating advice: never say never about people.
Never Say Never About People
If I had put together a set of criteria for the person I would date and marry, I would never in a million years have ended up with the love of my life, JHubbs. I was thinking long-ish brown-haired and JHubbs is blonde and usually buzzed. I was thinking heavy set with a beard and JHubbs is deliciously slim and almost always clean-shaven. I was thinking deeply obsessed with philosophy and literature, and JHubbs loved South Park and Linkin Park (barf to both!). The list goes on and on.
And perhaps this was just a lesson for me and no one else, but I still find it interesting enough to shout it out as my main kind of dating advice. When it comes to dating friends and acquaintances, you really shouldn’t write someone off without a prolonged interview of talking and hanging out as friends.
Unless we’re talking about a person in the act of committing a crime, or a person with a profoundly amoral view of life (though I wouldn’t draw the line of “Never” about religion, as neither JHubbs nor I were practicing Catholics at the time we met), there’s a very small chance that you’ll get the whole picture in one, two, or even three dates. I wonder if you can get the whole picture in a date at all. Finding a real partner (if that’s what you’re looking for) means getting to know a person in daily life situations — not Friday night situations.
And that’s just what happened with JHubbs and I.
Only Date Friends (But You Can Meet Friends Online)
Before, during, and after I wrote this journal entry, JHubbs and I were hanging out on and off solo, as a trio, and as fivesome with a group of students several times per week. We went on a trip to Cape Cod and NYC as friends, and went back to school and studied as friends. I didn’t understand him, and he had very limited social skills, but we learned about each other through class and extracurriculars because we happened to fall into the same crowd of friends. The only thing we had in common was that we both liked to talk about stuff.
Spending time together like this gave JHubbs room to go to counseling and gain confidence in himself and me time to mellow out about my rigid opinions and open up to alternative viewpoints (a little). And since we were talking and hanging out while we went through those processes, we were able to drop our walls and get to know the real other person. And it turns out we were the same kind of weird.
Personality quirks and opinions have a way of coming out as friends — and feelings and opinions grow as friends — that you’d never predict if you were scanning through a group of faces and profile stats for a potential mate (or, as it were, online dating).
I don’t mean to knock online dating. I know some lovely couples that met online. And if you met your current partner or spouse online, then that’s a stroke of luck for you (or maybe a scientifically calculated chance).
But if I were trying to find a partner nowadays, rather than use online dating to go on one date, I would use it to find friends for group activities and see if this person is a good addition to my social circle. Because the person who can be perfectly intriguing on a date and say all the right things is like the person who can nail an interview or a sales pitch without blinking or trying; there’s something not quite right about them in a serial-killer kind of way. And if you hang out as friends and don’t really feel it? You might introduce each other to other friends and hit it off. Just a thought.
Next week I will reveal the 10 characteristics that helped me talk myself into dating the man I eventually married (and more important: why I didn’t marry the ones I dated). It’s a doozy. Til then, tell me: