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15 Things I Learned Dating The Right Guy

I have done a lot of dating in the last year.  This has allowed me to compare and experience what at times feels like polar opposites to how guys go about woo’ing a lady.

I’ve known since I was a teenager I wanted to be in a relationship, one-to-one, with a guy who I thought was awesome and thought the same of me.  Ever hopeful, I started dating again last year with renewed optimism since the ratio of men to women in San Francisco seems to be in my favor.

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Benson Kua

After a three year dating haitus, it hasn’t been easy.  Sometimes I’ve felt overjoyed with all the attention, blood rushing to my cheeks and giggling like a teenager while at other times experiencing disrespect from guys and going out on dates when I’d rather be at home watching Netflix wondering, “WTF Adria?  What’s going on here?”

Update: Shout out to VioletBlue of TinyNibbles (NSFW but in a good way) for linking up this article in her roundup yesterday!  I had the amazing opportunity to see VioletBlue present at SXSW this year and it inspired me to not give up on dating.  The biggest takeaway I had from “The Sexual Survival Guide For Geeks At SXSW” session was that even if I didn’t know it, I had immeasurable power when it came to dating, especially giving signals to guys I was interested in.  I took that to heart and began to work on using my eyes and body language to indicate interest as well as picking out guys in a room to flirt with.  Thanks lady!

I’ve been consulting with friends, single and married, straight and gay, on what it takes to have a successful relationship including:

  • How they met their partner
  • How they knew their partner was “the one” for them
  • How they have overcome differences and struggles in their relationships
  • What they thought of my dating strategies, choices and goals

I’ve utilized my roommates (and online network of virtual big brothers) as trusted vetters of prospective dates and have attended three times the number of social events I did the year before.  My desire?  To find a guy who is a solid, long term match for me…and even prospective marriage material (yeah, I said it…thanks Ava for the pep talk in Atlanta!)

All this has led to a series of “ah ha” moments where the qualities I’m seeking in this partner have become clearer with each passing date.  I realize that a guy either “has it” or he doesn’t.

Ladies, you cannot teach a man to care, to be romantic or get where you’re coming from.  Nope.  Your goal is to work on yourself and prepare for the moment when you will meet a guy who is also prepared and the two of you will click.  No questions asked.  Age, race, location don’t matter.  It’s the other person’s life experiences and the lessons they’ve learned from them (hopefully!) that make them the person they are when you meet them.

I made a couple of videos this year on YouTube about my dating aspirations and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback, encouragement and connected with others, men and women, who were also frustrated by the modern dating process:

I realize now that many of the doubts, concerns and uncertainties I had with dating guys came from the fact we weren’t a match.  Relationships can truly feel like effortless thing when it’s a matched pair.

Here is the list I constructed last night as I thought back to the dates I’ve been on in the past and several that I’ve been on recently:

  1. He will go out of his way to make you feel special.
  2. He will make an effort to get ahold of you.
  3. He will look for ways to make your life easier.
  4. He lives to make you laugh.
  5. He will consider how something might affect you before sharing news with you yet won’t withhold if it’s important.
  6. He will touch you in ways that say, “I respect you and care about you” vs “I can’t wait to devour you like a hungry animal”.
  7. He will easily pass the judgment of your friends and roommates.  No need to explains quirks and weird-isms.
  8. He will remember things you tell him and find ways to surprise you with references to those things.
  9. When you look into his eyes, you will see his adoration and respect for you.
  10. He will like you for the whole package, not parts of you.
  11. He’s willing to try new things with you.
  12. He wants to share his favorite experiences with you…and try yours.
  13. He will call you on your bullshit yet listen carefully to your answer to show he cares.
  14. He will share ideas, stories and aspirations with you.
  15. He will let you in during the times he feels down without bringing you down too.

While you may think this list is very focused on the guy or other person, my point here is that it takes time to understand what good dating feels like.  While advice from others is great, you’ll probably need to go through the ups and downs of dating in order to determine what you really want.

It’s not enough to make a list like, “He should be attractive and smart.  He should like animals.  He should be driven but not spend too much time at work, blah, blah, blah”.

You will learn what your dealbreakers are and where your boundaries lie.  You’ll also know how to react (in time) when people break those deals and cross those lines.

More than that, when you encounter that person who seems to make the earth stop moving, you’ll truly feel like being yourself is 100% okay and you don’t have to hide or change one thing about who and how you are.  That’s the true meaning of “unconditional”.

Within a relationship like this, you have the ability to grow and evolve…together.

Don’t settle.

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About Adria Richards

Adria Richards is a developer and entrepreneur focused on digital equality. She has been involved in more than 35 hackathon events in the Bay Area and abroad. Embracing her inner nerd, Adria moved moved to San Francisco in 2010 to pursue her passion for technology. Previously she has worked in technical and training roles for enterprise, nonprofits and startups; from Apple to Zendesk. Adria has been teaching technology and developing curriculum since 2007.Adria is a popular speaker at major tech conferences including SXSW, O’Reilly Web 2.0, Launch, The Lean Startup Conference and TEDx. She speaks at startups and coding boot camps about culture, communication and diversity. Adria has attended TED, LeWeb and MLOVE.In her free time, Adria enjoys snowboarding, yoga and bacon; not necessarily at that order. Her Twitter account is followed by President @BarackObama. She blogs at ButYoureAGirl.com and is a YouTube Content Creator.

15 thoughts on “15 Things I Learned Dating The Right Guy

  1. matthewdlyons

    The whole piece is good, but I really like this, 

    “…you’ll truly feel like being yourself is 100% okay and you don’t have to hide or change one thing about who and how you are.  That’s the true meaning of “unconditional.”

  2. ars.rhetorica

    I second all of the above.  I didn’t start seriously dating until 25 (by seriously I mean I plunked down $50 on a dating website)…and within 3 days found the guy I am still with over a year later, and will be with for as long as he’ll have me around :).

    The point about being yourself is especially true.  Before I met my dude, I worked on being the kind of person that the kind of person I wanted to be with would want to be with! It was painful, but I knew that no one could “make” me into a better person.  And I knew that I couldn’t “make” someone better than what they were. No matter what, remember when dating someone the cardinal rule: What you see is what you get!  Respect a person by not wanting to change them.  That’s their job. 

    I won the man lottery.  Anyone can. 

  3. adriarichards

     @751411d6d637c4ec8984ae776a720110:disqus , I get where you’re coming from.  When I was in my early twenties, I thought being desirable meant doing everything the guy liked.  So, I learned to snowboard, play fantasy football and use chopsticks.  Now while two of those have come in handy as I’ve grown older, looking back I understand sacrificing my true self for false “oneness” is never the way to go.  Now I don’t hold back on who I am and the results are interesting. 

    Some guys immediately freak out and run; others think they can change (aka “train”) me to be how they want but most important are the ones who like me just the way I am.

    Love it you won the man lottery and I’m looking to improve my luck as well!

  4. ars.rhetorica

    Best of luck! Winning the man lottery can happen, and it does–all the time.

    I might also add that love comes in funny places–I’m a Kansas farm-raised German Lutheran girl, and I got me a wonderful secular Jew from Soviet-era Ukraine. Not the most likely pairing, but it’s positively perfect…for us. Each of us is what the other needs, all differences aside. 

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  6. Deanna Dykstra

    In number 6, I’d lobby for “and” instead of “vs.” 

    I appreciate that the list is positive. I tend to make lists that would include “He won’t talk ad nauseam for 2 hours without taking a breath.” Sigh.

    Great post for me to read as another relationship sunsets. Thanks for the motivation and inspiration to not give up on dating.

  7. Ronja

    Adria, I can tell you are from Minnesota…because when you was taking about “all cut dude”, when you said the word “Known”…your accent shows!!

  8. card recovery download

    Well; Adiria I think you need to spend quality time with
    your partner which make you feel supportive, cared and extreme loving; such
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  9. Aaron

    An excellent and insightful list, as long as girls remember that guys will be applying the exact same list to them as well. :)

  10. joeflyde

    The best relationships happens when you can be you, and I can be me and we have a mutual respect for each other.

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