I was asked to write about dating and my first thought was: ‘I ain’t writing about that. I haven’t dated successfully yet. I can them write PAGES about liking someone and that never materializing into anything. But dating?”
A couple sleeps later, I remembered that in my singleness I most appreciate talking out my dating life with other single people. Nothing can be more annoying than trying to explain the chaos and loneliness and weird feelings and HYPE that come with dating, to a person who is partnered, who has been with that same partner since they were young, who in essence, isn’t walking where I’m walking.
I always go to those people first, because yeah know, gotta go to the experts, right? Gotta go to the person who’s won the race. But dating isn’t a race. It’s not a competition. It’s not even a linear journey that one day you will magically arrive to the end of with your partner in hand. Dating is a super squiggly line that you can never really know where you’re at on. It’s like the Jeremy Bearimy timeline from The Good Place.
I think I’ve dated an average about for a person in my shoes. Based on talking to my friends, I would actually maybe say a bit more than average. So I’m taking up the reins and writing out my dating advice. That is below. And tomorrow, I’ll share with you a journey entry to paint the picture of my semi-current dating kerfuffle. I think that will be helpful to us all.
For now, here’s my dating advice.
Jared’s magical, solve-all-yo-problems dating advice:
1 - Don't date to find a partner. Date to meet people and to do fun things with those people. Keep your posture there. You’re going to get screwed up if you get to into your head about it all. I’ll explain more below.
2- Use the dating apps. No, they’re not just for hookups. But some of them absolutely are. That doesn’t mean you have to be afraid of them. Based on what I’ve found I would rank them Grindr-Tinder-Bumble-Hinge, Grindr being super hook-upy and Hinge, not at all. Dating apps are made to get two people with the same intentions in the same space. For queer folk in a hetero world, for especially queer-Christian-folk in a very hetero world, that can be near impossible without apps. Also, don’t be afraid to slide into the DM’s of that person you think is cute on Instagram. It’s totally a thing. They’ll know why you’re sliding.
3 - Outside of dating apps, be active in other things that get you meeting new people and seeing those new people on a regular, reoccurring basis. Join a small group at a queer-affirming church. Join queer Meetup groups. Join the queer volleyball team in your town. Go to queer Christian conferences and retreats like those hosted by QCF, the Reformation Project, and CenterPeace.
4 - Don’t use dating as an unhealthy substitute for community and friendship. Like anyone who knows rejection and trauma and hurt, it can be scary to be in community again. It can seem safer to just find one person and dive deep. Posturing that onto your dating life will be set yourself up for failure. It will be putting too much onto that one person. That person is not responsible for taking care of you. That person is also not going to solve all of your life’s problems.
5 - Internalized homophobia is a thing. Be ready for that to come up in all its tricky ways when you start dating. Watch how shame comes up for you. For me, I think I experience internalized homophobia most in the ways I rarely rarely rarely, like ever, feel sparks for someone. (I’ll share more about that tomorrow.) Find a therapist to talk all this stuff out with. Also, it can be helpful to practice dating a city that’s not your own. Then you won’t run into people you know, which can be nerving and awkward, and if that person happens to be a non-affirming friend, more mental drama than you need.
6 - Don’t do dating alone. Find your people to talk out all your dating drama with. That’s so important to getting your feelings out and unscrambling the scramble. It’s also freakin’ fun. As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, be prepared for some/many of your friends who are super affirming of you being out and queer, to not be affirming of you dating. That come out in blunt statement, but also passive comments, awkwardness, or a sudden change of subject. Don’t talk about your dating those friend anymore. You’ve got to find your people to talk this out with. And those people need to be so normalized to queer relationships that they think its ridiculous anyone would believe otherwise. All the straight people of the world have that. And we need it too.
7 - Dating is a practice. If it’s something that is important to you, you’ve got to just do it. Don’t wait until your life is perfect. Date to meet people, to have fun, and to beat back that internalized homophobia probably all of us have inside. Date casually. Date while traveling. I’ve gone of some of the coolest dates while in a city for only a day. While in NYC, I went on a date to the MET with a french guy. While in Seattle, an architecture student took me around the city all day, telling me about the buildings and the parks and the fountains..
8 - Wherever you’re at, whoever you're sitting across the table from, know that that person is not your only chance at love. The scarcity mentality is real. Especially for queer Christians. The pool is so stinkin’ small and we think that ever single date matters so so much. But the scarcity mentality will only make you do ridiculous things and compromise in ridiculous ways. And also, Christians have sucked the fun out of dating because they’ve made it so high pressure. You’re meeting people, not auditioning a partner.
9 - And lastly, date yourself. Go do things alone. Go to concerts and art classes and cities by yourself. Spend time to become the person you want to me.. Singleness is sweet in so many ways and there is good chance you’ll never be single again once you find your partner. The person who are you will be forged by singleness and dating, so give yourself time to do both.
p.s.: I included a desert pic above bc dating can seem like a desert. But this is desert was actually one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It was full of so much life, so many different just plants and bugs and critters. It left me awestruck. I ran and jumped and squealed at joy and surprise of it. Similar to dating.