I come from a traditional set up where dating is not necessarily encouraged and arranged marriages are still a more respectful way of life. Growing up watching mushy movies, I thought I wasn’t opposed to the idea of dating but in reality I didn’t find myself being very open to it either. There was a bit of confusion in my mind about this and I wasn’t sure of what part was I uncomfortable with. Was it being seen with someone and tattled on? Was it being sceptical about a validation from my peers? Fear of being physically attracted to someone and what that could lead to or a potential heartbreak? It was probably all of it and a certain amount of unsureity about my own feelings.
In my late teens, I remember being encouraged by my friends to date someone who had a crush on me. The guy and I weren’t friends. We had met only once at a party and he had expressed interest through my friends. We started hanging out together, sometimes in a group, sometimes by ourselves, getting to know each other better. All throughout I seemed to enjoy the attention and the affection that was being showered upon me but something stopped me from accepting him as that special person in my life. As a result, I could never reciprocate and eventually we stopped being friends. I felt hurt, disappointed and left alone. Our friends couldn’t understand either what caused that mental block.
In the next few years of college too, I would consciously stay away if I knew that someone liked me. What I failed to realize was that not only was I curbing people from coming into my life but also shutting myself out from some very crucial and beautiful experiences. Waking up to sweet messages meant I was on someone’s mind from the time they woke up. Working out together, sharing food, partnering for assignments, going on drives meant spending quality time together to allow the intimacy to grow, the relationship to blossom, learn to take care of another person, share emotions and potentially find a companion for life. With a little more time passing by, I started to gradually warm up to the idea of it and gave myself the chance to accept someone open-mindedly. If they felt a certain way about me and if I thought they were worth giving a shot, I didn’t hesitate to get to know them better.
The result was that I became stronger and more confident of my own thoughts and feelings, knew the kind of qualities I liked in a person, became more aware of who was genuine to me and who wanted to just play along and all of this helped me to make better decisions and be in control of my emotions. Not every experience was smooth but it definitely taught a lesson that I could apply for the rest of my life. Dating also helped me to know myself better – of how much I could adjust for someone, compromise for them, put someone else’s happiness or concerns before mine and also the extent to which I could tolerate the things I wasn’t in agreement with.
Relationships can bring out the best or worst in you but one has to be willing to take that chance. There’s no guarantee that there won’t be a few bumps along the road but how you tackle them can shape you as a person. Amongst all other things, listen to your heart and be open to falling in love. It’s a feeling you won’t ever regret.