By Holly A. Phillips
My imagination is a catch 22.
While it feeds my creativity, and ultimately pays my bills, it can get me into lots of trouble when it comes to dating.
Lately, I’ve had to make a mental note to turn off my wondrous brain and just focus on the moment.
I went for drinks recently, with a friend who I hadn’t seen in years. I was nervous before we met, wondering if he just wanted to catch up, or if this was a date.
It was a nice time, with good conversation and yummy food, and when he walked me to my car, I wondered if he would go in for the kiss.
He didn’t, and I was stunned.
Here are Holly’s tips for keeping relationships in the present tense:
1. Eat Slower. When out on a date, don’t stuff your face like it’s a race. Concentrate on your company and the conversation. Small, slow bites can lead to long, meaningful exchanges.
2. Stop Planning. That “Dream Wedding” Pinterest has to go, single ladies. Or at least set it to private.
3. Celebrate the Small Stuff. Little anniversaries can be nice baby steps. Made it a month? Honor it with a home-cooked meal. Even smaller personal victories, like an intense workout, merit commemoration.
But then I realized, maybe my imagination got in the way and turned this dinner into something it wasn’t—and it wouldn’t be the first time.
If a date goes well, I catch myself thinking about the next date before it’s even planned, and sometimes even a full-blown relationship. In reality, there was only one date, and the guy probably thinks I’m crazy.
Part of it isn’t my brain; it’s my hopeful, resilient heart. The few times I’ve fallen in love have been with people who didn’t deserve it. So, I’m often left hoping for love, the right kind of love.
My colorful imagination is a place where romance novels are stored, where love songs are real, and where quality vodka is really cheap. It’s a beautiful place, but when conditions are too heavy, trouble awaits.
I’ve only told a few people about my flighty imagination, but to my delight, a guy friend of mine told me he, too, has to work at staying in the moment.
“I try and focus on the really little things,” he told me. “I also eat slower while I’m on a date. It helps me concentrate on the girl and our conversation. Try it.”
I’ve got a date in a few days, so I’m going to give it a whirl. If you see me eating at a snail’s pace, don’t mind me.
We both had a laugh at how silly we sounded, but the truth is, staying in the moment is difficult when your heart is ready to race months ahead.
My wild imagination is no one’s fault but mine however, if you’re out there and dating, be mindful of the things you say that might come across as futuristic.
I once had a guy tell me he gets free hotel rooms at the IP Casino in Biloxi.
“We should spend a weekend there sometime,” he suggested, giving my mind free reign to roam months ahead to swimsuit season. Back on Earth, we never saw each other again after February.
Another thing you can do to stay present? Put the plan away. This means deleting the “Dream Wedding” Pinterest board you’ve got even though you’re still single.
I hate to say it, because I’ve thought about my wedding to, but thinking about something that might not happen the way you planned, is just a giant setup for failure.
Enjoy the moment by celebrating the smaller things. Okay, so maybe your boyfriend hasn’t proposed yet, but you can still pop a bottle over the fact that you’ve been together for eight months.
Or in my case, celebrate even smaller victories like having a great workout, or waking up before your alarm (baby steps, people).
If you’re always focused on what’s ahead (or what’s not), you’ll never be happy for what you’ve got now.
It’s easy to get caught up in the way you wish things were, especially when it’s plastered all over your friends’ Instagram accounts. But that is just a small piece of someone’s life—and it’s got a filter (in more ways than one).
Real relationships take time, and sometimes they take a little work. Rarely do they involve white horses or acoustic guitars; and on the off chance that one of mine does, I hope I can actually be there, in a moment greater than any of my wildest dreams.
Read more about Holly’s unfiltered dating life on her blog, TheBitterLemon.com.