New Year, New Dude: Finding Love in 2010

The last time I broke in a new year sans boy on my arm, it was 2003. I was going on 16 years old, and was convinced that blowing out sixteen candles without a boyfriend would be tantamount to the apocalypse. And I’m not gonna lie – the thought of not having someone special to kiss when the clock struck midnight on a brand new decade was a little disheartening…for about five minutes. And that’s when I realized – it’s a brand new decade. And the men (not boys, we’re leaving that behind in 2009) are ripe for the picking.

I had a whole medley of boyfriends during the last decade – two of which were serious, one of which disastrously so (my last name came perilously close to being Crawford.) While I didn’t deem any of them fit to accompany me into the next 10 years of my life, each and every boy had a hand in teaching me important things about myself. I discovered my likes and dislikes, along with figuring out what I want in a relationship and what I can’t stand. Armed with 10 years worth of self discovery (along with the street cred-esque notoriety of having put my last boyfriend in jail) I’m ready to face 2010 as a single woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to go after it. Here are my dating mantras, new and improved to suit a new and improved decade:

  • Do not settle.

When it comes to being indiscriminate about guys, my personal philosophy mirrors that of a wise woman who once said”You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.”

I mean, that wise woman may have also compared the U.S. immigration crisis of 1995 to catering a birthday party…and recommended “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” as mind stimulating literature….okay, that “wise woman” is Cher from Clueless. But the sentiment remains – there’s no sense in settling for a guy who doesn’t completely do it for you, just because you’re bored, drunk, lonely, you want attention or he got you drunk on wine coolers and you felt fat that day. Nearly ever girl I know has a relationship skeleton in her closet where a guy she was ambiguous toward expressed interest and she was tired of being alone so she just went for it. Make that one bad habit you resolve to break in 2010 – and stick to it…I hope not sporadically.

  • No more compromising

My last boyfriend spent our entire relationship hellbent on filling his lungs with tobacco on a regular basis, presumably because he wanted to die a slow, miserable death after eventually having to start talking out of a hole in his neck. I fought this nonsense tooth and nail during the first 3 1/2 years we dated, but during the last six months, I relented. I was compromising, I thought for the good of our relationship…or what was left of it. Big mistake. Being around him after that was like the time I flew 12 hours in coach next to this guy who smelled like something in and/or on his person had been dead for several years – except this was 24 hours a day. And I had to kiss him. And I had to let him kiss me. Repeatedly. It was miserable, and I’m never dating a cigarrette smoker again. There are too many guys in this world to keep one around who does things¬† you hate. It’s all fine and good to compromise on the small things – but if it comes down to prominent lifestyle habits, stick to your guns. The aforementioned last boyfriend also wanted to buy a gun and keep it in our house, presumably because he thought there was something that needed to be shot at in our small, family oriented college town. I refused. He didn’t like it. I didn’t care. He turned out to be a violent maniac. I’m not sporting any bullet wounds, and I regret nothing.

  • Take it slow

Is it just me, or have relationships been on warp speed lately? Seriously, I’ve seen friends go from meeting each other to dating exclusively in a little over a week’s time. One of my friends is dating a guy who, after only having known her for two weeks, started professing his undying love for her….over and over again. Even after she asked him to stop. I’m fairly certain he doesn’t even know her middle name. Call me old fashioned, but that’s a little too fast for me. I’m the kind of girl who has to be courted first. This decade, I’m resolving to be a little more “southern belle,” as a friend of mine likes to say, and get to know the guy a little before I get too serious with him – kind of like sticking your toe in first before you jump into the pool. Because I mean, you never know. Someone could have peed in it.

  • Broaden your horizons

If you’re anything like me, you’re not big on the idea of dating someone in your close circle of friends. Or maybe, even if you’re open to the idea, there’s no one in said circle of friends you could see yourself dating. Maybe it’s time to widen the circle. Take up that hobby you’ve been meaning to get into, start frequenting a different coffee shop (or, okay. If you’re a Starbuxaholic like some people I know, at least try visiting a different BRANCH), just do things a little differently. It’s all about meeting new people – it opens the door up to new potential friends…and potential more-than-friends.

  • There’s no such thing as “Prince Charming”

I mean, we all know this…sort of. We’re aware that no guy is without (numerous) faults. But in the back of our minds, there’s still this ideal, this perfect guy who’s out there, somewhere. And he is…in the pages of our favorite books, movies (I’m looking at you, Twihards.) or TV shows. He exists, but only in our imaginations. He’s not real. I’m guilty as charged – I have a list of traits that my “perfect guy” would have, some of which even contradict each other, because it’s not possible. This year, I plan to let go of that, a little bit. That doesn’t mean giving up on “Mr. Right” in favor of “Mr. Right Now Even If He’s Got Early Onset Balding,” but it does mean letting go of the unrealistic expectations that my Disney movie laden childhood has made me set when it comes to romantic affairs. Though I think Disney’s starting to catch onto it, too – take Prince Naveen from “The Princess and The Frog.” Hot? Definitely. Perfect? Far from it. I’ll be the first one to admit that I’m not faultless, and I’m not going to expect a guy to be, either. Because if there’s one thing I learned from 2009, it’s that the type of mindset that expects perfection from everyone but herself is one that is just setting a girl up for disappointment.

The way I see it, it’s a new decade. I feel like my life’s hit a system reset, and I’m taking it as an opportunity to revamp my outlook on my life, loves…and well, my love life. While I’m taking all these new mantras to heart and applying them to my romantic pursuits, there are only three words that are going to be governing my love life this year – and in all the years after it: Men. Not boys. Say it with me, ladies. MEN. NOT BOYS. Happy new year!

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