So instead, you get good at turning every tricky conversation into a wacky "Thanks for asking- hey, what's that over there?!" diversion tactic. You make sure you've always got a handy story ready to explain away your unemployment when someone innocently asks if you "had a good at day at work." You look for ways to spin the conversation onto the parts of your life you're proud of or excited about, like your future dreams and goals, and away from the parts you're not ready to talk about yet. You become a master at quickly switching the focus of a conversation onto the other person and getting them talking about themselves.
It's not that you want to lie or hide anything. It's that it's perfectly normal to want to avoid talking about the tricky or hard parts of your life until you get to know the other person better.
You Learn To Date Without Dating
Can we all just agree that the traditional model of dating sucks? Once you've managed to attract an elusive other by tempting them to swipe right on a carefully posed picture that looks absolutely nothing like everyday you, you get to dress up like a fake version of yourself, go to a fancy place you'll probably never eat at again, and make the kind of scripted small talk that only happens in bad comedies. Then, no matter how kind, sweet, interesting, cool, intelligent, or determined you are, you face the risk of being rejected just because you don't have tons of disposable money to throw at this elaborate game, or because the current story of your life doesn't fit society's specific definition of "success." Though admittedly, today's climate has lowered that bar to mean "still alive."
It's no wonder so many of my most interesting friends have given up on "dating" altogether. If your life is in transition and you want to find somebody totally awesome who understands that, sometimes you've got to look at ways of throwing out the old playbook and writing your own.
Like, you learn to just hang out with friends and let a relationship evolve without actually going on any formal dates. Maybe you hit up free interesting events in town and schedule them around not shelling for meals. Maybe you throw a game night or movie night, and invite them to come hang out casually with you and your friends. Sometimes the best way to meet somebody awesome is through a friend and not an app. Which is why I often just showed up at a friend's house and started eating their food without warning or permission. My definition of "date" is a gray area.
I understand that may not always seem possible, and sometimes you have to get creative as shit in order to pull it off. But I've known plenty of people in long-term relationships that started off with "My friend is having a party on Friday night. Want to go with me?"
Good News: Living With Your Parents Isn't As Bad As You Think
Confession time: Some of the hottest, most creative, interesting, and fuckable people I know are underemployed and still live with their parents for a variety of reasons. They're starting interesting businesses, going to school, in the military reserves, using their parents as a home base to travel, saving for a major goal, or giving back to their families. In a place like Toronto, where almost 50 percent of Millennials live in multi-generational homes, the question isn't whether the seemingly interesting hottie you just met on Queen West still lives at home, but why they do.
Finding out the answer might require asking some deeper, more interesting questions, and that will tell you a lot about who they are as a person. What are their long-term goals? Do they have an actual plan for achieving them? Or are they just eating Cheezies and playing video games, hoping a music contract is going to land in their lap? What are their relationships like with their parents, grandparents, and siblings? Do they have a curfew and expect their mom to do their laundry? Or are they outside at six in the morning, chopping wood or taking grandma to chemotherapy? Do they have their own room, or do you have to fuck on the roof?
Learning those things will tell you much more about that person's "true self" than any date. Does the fact they live at home mean they're lazy? Or that they're resilient, took a couple of hard knocks in life, and are going to come back fighting? Does it mean they value family? Does it mean they're actually a better person to build a future with than someone with their own place and a "good job," but who only cares about themselves?
Either way, it's going to mean talking about stuff a lot deeper than what bands they like or what their opinion is of the latest Marvel movie. And I'm not pretending for one moment that it's easy. But again, if the whole reason you're in this dating game is for more than a one-night stand -- to find someone who you can build an entire life of experiences with, until one day you have basement dwellers of your own -- it can be worth it.
Unless you're legitimately living at home because you're a lazy piece of shit. In which case, get a job, deadbeat.
Mags writes books about dead people and kissing, and is thankful that she no longer lives in somebody's basement. You can bother her on Twitter. Bring cookies.
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