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Why I Started Dating Mr. Right Now

Why I Stopped Focusing On Mr. Right and Started Dating "Mr. Right Now"

I'm guilty of taking online dating a little too seriously.

What's funny about that is that I hesitated to try online dating when I found myself newly single in my 30s. I'd heard horror stories about friends dating the same guy and people flaking after seeing you, and frankly, I was embarrassed that this was where my love life was at.

But, everyone was doing it. So I justified downloading these apps as a way to expedite the process of finding my true match.

Looking back, I give a lot of kudos to the men I've matched with. In my early swiping days, I was a lot. I would immediately go in with hard-hitting questions, asking "What's your intention?" or "What are your red flags?" before thinking to ask about, you know, their hobbies. My voyage to finding Mr. Right was intentional, and I wouldn't accept anything less: marriage or bust.

Surprise, surprise, I stayed single. In fact, I was in the beginning stages of dating app burnout when I ended up matching with someone that was completely not my type. I wasn't super attracted to his photos, but his answers to the dating app prompts seemed funny, and I was weary enough to swipe right. We matched — and immediately hit it off.

Because I hadn't been swiping totally seriously, instead of starting with hard-hitting questions, I let the conversation flow naturally. Minutes later, we were on the phone laughing and enjoying some random banter. I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to him, and we planned a date for a couple days later at a local Mexican restaurant. It felt like spontaneity, and it was exciting.

The date came, and he was an hour late trying to find parking. Instead of walking out, I ordered an appetizer and my entree; he didn't end up sitting down until I'd finished my first margarita and a basket of chips. He apologized, and luckily the vibes were similar to our first interactions: fun and light. We laughed and talked about everything you shouldn't on a first date — religion, politics, and the Kardashians — but just because the conversation wandered there, and not because I was trying to suss out his capital-F Feelings about those issues. In fact, as he walked me to my car at the end of the night, I knew the only sizzle on this date was coming from my fajitas.

Between our views on the world, and what we wanted for the future, seeing him again was never happening. But I wasn't disappointed, and I didn't feel like I'd wasted any time.

That was huge. Historically, most of my failed talking stages have ended with some form of an emotional breakdown about how love isn't for me and how tired I am of this phase in my life, dating at 34. I'd repeatedly curse the universe, and talk myself into a black hole of loneliness, even if I was the one who hadn't wanted to pursue the relationship. I'd wallow in my singlehood and vow never to put myself out there again.

But after my first date with "Taco Tuesday," I began to see the benefits of Mr. Right Now.

I started dating men that I knew, or at least strongly suspected, weren't my future husband, and dating became fun again.

Saying yes to a date with Mr. Right Now alleviated the pressure I was putting on myself to find love. As a result, I could enjoy myself without expectations. It was an excuse to go out and try something new. Without overanalyzing every step of getting to know someone, I might find I learn something new about myself and someone else — no "what are we?" conversation necessary.

So, I started dating men that I knew, or at least strongly suspected, weren't my future husband, and dating became fun again. I was free to enjoy the excitement of getting ready, changing multiple times, and feeling cute over drinks — without the anxiety that came with weighing whether this person would be around to hold my hair back after a drunken night out or make a good plus-one to a friend's wedding.

I'd gotten into the habit of examining every word dates said, trying to figure out the "actual" intention of every interaction. But dating Mr. Right Now allowed me to practice taking my foot off the gas. It also reminded me that we can't always know people's intentions until something happens that makes them clear, so I decided not to sweat the things that I couldn't control.

Dating more casually helped me practice boundaries in a low-stakes way, too. It's easier to decide when and if I should put additional effort toward someone who I think seems fun but have acknowledged probably isn't a forever-match from the outset. With a sense of abundance added back into my romantic life, rather than the scarcity mindset I'd adopted in the past, I stopped having emotional breakdowns from every "missed opportunity."

Above all, beginning to say yes to people who looked like Mr. Right Now instead of only Mr. Right reminded me that the process of dating is supposed to be fun. I've never stopped intentionally looking for a future long-term partner. But staying open to different types of people allowed me to reset to my dating experience. So rather than stressing myself out chasing my happily ever after, I get to just be . . . happy. It's a trade-off I'd make any day of the week.

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