On a recent trip home to Chicago, while we were all sitting around the dinner table, my very sassy six-year-old niece rolled her eyes, telling the family, “Amy has more dates than Taylor Swift!” We all thought it was very funny, although I’m not sure where she is getting her information from since I’ve only introduced her to one guy in all of her six years on this planet. However, I have a confession to make: It’s true–I really did go on more dates than Taylor Swift this summer.
Let me begin by saying, I’ve always been, and still remain, a one-man kind of woman. However, my therapist, Dr. Pat Allen, invented a concept she calls “duty dating.” Before entering a committed relationship, Dr. Allen encourages women to date multiple men to practice their dating skills, and more importantly, to keep from obsessing over one person. She explains, “Duty dating is when you hope the guy dies in the restaurant bathroom.” She also says that because it could take up to three dates for the chemistry to grow, surprisingly, many of these “duty dates” ultimately turn into long-term relationships.
Personally, I don’t need any more practice dating, and I’m too easily annoyed to go out with guys I’m not interested in. However, I do feel as though maybe I wasted time being so loyal to men who weren’t worthy; so this time around, I took Dr. Pat’s advice to heart and decided I wasn’t going to commit myself so easily.
As I’m writing this, I realize I’m sounding a bit boy crazy. For anyone who knows me, for two whole years, I stayed in almost every night, writing a book and didn’t have much of a social life. After I took a little hiatus from writing, I began to see someone exclusively for six months. During this time, I was working on my personal training credential and took a life-coaching course, so there still wasn’t much time for going out. When that relationship ended at the beginning of this summer, I felt like I had to make up for lost time.
So, in the true spirit of Taylor Swift, I decided to “Shake It Off” and have a really fun and WILD summer. The universe clearly didn’t want me pining away over anyone either because as soon as I stepped on the scene, I was like a magnet. I had men following me out of restaurants. My guy friends were professing their love for me. Two guys even got in a fight over who was going to buy me a drink at a bar. I felt bad for the guy who broke his hand, but I didn’t go out with either one of those two.
I want to be clear that I don’t think I was in such high demand because I’m so amazing—I think the lesson is that when you’re strong enough to let go, new opportunities will always present themselves. I believe the universe was showing me it was in support of my decision to move forward and was keeping my calendar full so I didn’t look back.
I must admit, it did take me a few weeks to get a hang of this “duty dating” concept. First, I accidentally sent a very personal text to the wrong guy. I was completely mortified, but it did make us closer and give us something to laugh about. The next evening I had dinner with someone else and called him by the wrong name. I even mistakenly double booked a couple times. Although it was against my nature, I did finally get the hang of dating more than one guy at a time. Out of all the dates I had this summer, there was only one guy I actually hoped died in the bathroom.
As summer is winding down, I find myself returning to my authentic self—the girl who would rather be home with her nose in a book than out at a nightclub. Although I understand Dr. Allen’s theory, as an introvert, I was starting to find all that dating to be a bit exhausting and found myself craving some more quiet nights at home. However, I do think “duty dating” has its place, for instance, after a breakup, or if there’s no one that is really standing out from the crowd, then keep dating until you find a guy who does. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe that if you meet someone that you have a special connection with, you should focus on him and only him–unless he’s not giving you enough attention. In that case, “duty date” your heart out!