By: Markishala Coleman
After just getting out of a murky year and a half relationship, I had dropped both the toxic boy and about 15 or so pounds. With that I was gifted a new life, a new wardrobe, and a new attitude. I was, to quote "Thirteen Going On Thirty", thirty, flirty, and thriving. That became my new mantra along with being almost overly confident. I was enjoying what it felt like to be free again, in all forms of the word. And so about three months after the relationship had officially ended, as the result of the persuasion of a friend, I downloaded Tinder.
So far its been an interesting journey and surprisingly I have learned a lot from it. Starting from the basics, I learned how to date. I hadn't really dated my ex-boyfriend, just one day we were an item and that was that. Now though, I was getting dolled up, having first date jitters, and using google maps to discover how to get to new and unique places around a town I've lived in practically my entire life. I also didn't just date one guy at a time. I had jumped in head first and was playing the field; which is a term I never thought would be used in reference to myself. What I learned here is that: it is really so much fun...until it isn't.
About a month into my tinder experience, I was ghosted. Boy, not only did it come as a total surprise it also hurt. It caused enough of a bruise for me to be upset about it for a few days. The thing about playing the field though, is that there is always someone else to tag in from the sideline. Even if you get burned, there's always someone to shift the focus towards.
As someone who has struggled with self-confidence for my entire life, I can finally say that falling out of love with my ex meant falling into love with myself. It also meant, ironically learned from the man who ghosted me, that I am a desired woman and with that comes a sense of power. One that was very unfamiliar to me and one that I tried earnestly not to misuse. It meant that I didn't have to settle, that I could be with anyone. I don't have to try to be anything I'm not, be interested in what I'm not, or talk any certain kind of way. I could just be me and that was attractive in its own right.
Playing the field also taught me a lot about time management. Planning for dates throughout the week, not getting time or days or details mixed up, and penciling in time for myself. That last thing would prove to be the hardest. I spent weeks where I would go out every night; either with friends or with a new guy. As a person who craves vast amounts of alone time, it quickly left me running on empty. The thing is though, when you're constantly going, you forget how to slow down. For an introvert, it was really hard to meet that many new people. Sure! I loved the rush of the first dates, and getting ready, and learning about someone else's world, but brutal self honesty would also reveal that I loved the attention.
The thing about attention is that it is a very fleeting high, just until someone gets bored or realizes that the compatibility isn't there. Then enters the wonderful world of dating apps where there is always another face just one swipe away. There truly are plenty of fish in the sea, which means that I had a plethora of options of men to feed my attention addiction. However, that soon grew old as well, which led me to the startling realization that I don't want the attention of many men, I just yearn for the attention of one.
Then it dawned on me. That after a short four months of playing the field and dating around, I was ready for an actual relationship. I had worked through my post break up blues, discovered that dating is the most cutthroat jungle, and like Stella, I had gotten my groove back. Playing the field was exhausting. I had battle scars, scrapes, and tired fingers to prove it. And now....now my trajectory shifted from short-term dating to long-term relationships. I sought, am seeking, my person.
I realized that I had everyone's attention, but no one to call home. So much power in these small hands, but very misdirected in the administration of it. Dating around took a lot out of me. It's repeatedly putting your heart out there and being open to new people and experiences. It's actively living outside of your comfort zone. And it most definitely is a time of learning and self discovery. Sometimes self acceptance comes through seeing yourself through the eyes of someone else and having a really good girlfriend to discuss everything with over sushi and a cosmo. Sometimes it comes in making a drastic life change and finally deciding to put yourself first. And sometimes it comes in the form of embracing just exactly what it is you want and setting all coordinates for that destination. When I realized and accepted that I want a relationship and genuine connection with someone, everything became simpler. My path was set and that journey begins now.