Dating is not an easy process. You have to find someone you're interested in, be lucky enough to have them be interested in you, and then decide to mutually hang out and judge each other based on whether you think you'll be compatible as lovers.
Um, sounds fun?
As nerve-wracking of an experience as it sounds (and, let's be honest, is!), dating isn't just about getting to know another person. In the end, searching for love can, in all sorts of ways, teach you more about yourself. And if you're thinking "Hey, I think I know enough about myself already. I'd rather concentrate on the potential love of my life, k?" then think about how knowing your dating strengths (and weaknesses), your past demons that often sabotage potential relationships and your inability to find someone who makes your long list of impossible-to-meet criteria — and give this a read:
What you can (and cannot) put up with
Dating around can be exhausting, but it can also teach you a lot about what you want and don't want in a relationship. You may think you'd be okay dating someone who isn't a huge fan of animals, but when he isn't willing to make nice with your pet pooch, you'll realize you're not as cool with it as you think. Searching for love means testing out loads of different personalities, qualities and habits. And while this may sound tedious, it's actually the best way to see what really matters to you.
Not to take dating so seriously
We've all done it: met the "perfect" person, wondered if he or she's the one and fantasized of your fairytale wedding, future children and fabulous life together — only to discover on your first date that he or she is a total bust. Instead of feeling disappointed and frustrated at (another) bad date, consistently searching for love teaches you that not every date should be taken so seriously.
Dating isn't always the romantic, love-at-first-sight experience we see in the movies. It's more like a series of awkward pauses, getting-to-know-you questions and trying to decide if you wouldn't mind waking up to this person in the morning. If you're serious about looking for love, you'll learn to accept duds as part of the process, and that if you're going to keep trying, you might as well enjoy the ride!
Who your greatest resources are
They say being single makes you appreciate your friendships, but actively dating teaches you more about your pals than you think. Once you let your friends in on your newfound decision to date around, you'll be able to immediately tell who's the most supportive and who you'd rather not discuss your dating woes with.
You'll discover your best double dating partners, the friends who will sit through endless happy hours scoping out any potentials, and the one's who will help analyze your texts. Searching for love not only helps you find that special person, it also helps you realize what special people you already have in your life.
What you need to let go of
Look, dating is a scary thing. If you're serious about looking for love, you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, sometimes to a complete stranger. As much as we'd like to keep our heart guarded, letting others in is not only necessary in dating, but it's also beneficial to your own growth as a person.
When dating around, you may be secretly wondering to yourself if he or she seems like the type of person who'd lie about a family reunion when instead hooking up with someone on the side. Or maybe you're panicking that he hasn't texted you back in, oh, 10 minutes, and immediately thinking, "Oh God, we're done already. He doesn't like me, he definitely thinks my hair is too frizzy and I've already scared him away." They say dating makes you crazy, but what it really does is brings to light all the issues you need to deal with to be in a fulfilling, happy relationship.
Looks really don't matter
We're not trying to be nice here. While we wish we could say looks don't matter when it comes to dating, physical attractiveness is actually an important factor when looking for a potential partner. But they may not matter as much as we think they do. When you're looking for love, you often have a laundry list of expectations: "I'm more into brunettes" or "I can't date someone shorter than me."
Sorry to break it to you, but falling in love does not work that way. When you're searching around for someone you feel a spark with, you'll discover everyone has different physical qualities — sometimes ones you never thought you'd be interested in. While someone outside your "type" may not work out, we guarantee it'll be less about his looks and more about something a little deeper.
This post was originally published on ClassPass's blog, The Warm Up by Danielle Page. ClassPass is a monthly membership that connects you to more than 8,500 of the best fitness studios worldwide. Learn more here.