When I was in my first year of junior high, I remember falling head over heels (guys can use this term too, right?) for a girl who took the same bus. I remember picking a flower out of my neighbor’s garden, so I could hand it to her on the morning ride. She was embarrassed, but accepted the token.
Her friends were impressed-ish, but tried to signal early on that she wasn’t going to be interested. And soon after, I found out: she only liked me as a friend.
As much as the rejection stung, it dawned on me that “being just a friend” shouldn’t have had any kind of impact– we weren’t even friends! I didn’t know anything about this girl. I can’t even remember if I knew her name before her friends tried to diffuse the situation.
From that point on, I kept that memory to motivate me: blindly falling in love with a girl you barely know is dumb. You have to get to know the girl.
Unfortunately, I drove that notion into the opposite extreme. Through junior high and senior, I’d try to guard myself from butterflies in the stomach. I’d make a conscious effort to talk to girls, to get to know them, and to be friends first.
But then, I’d just “fall in love” with every girl who I felt like I knew “enough” about.
Reaching that level was too easy. I’d try to keep myself in check by reviewing the facts: “This isn’t just some girl I have math class with! Her favorite holiday is Christmas. She likes food.” I was too eager jumping to conclusion we had so many things in common.
Along the way, I kept learning to raise the level higher and higher, but getting to know someone became a lot of work. You know what really sucked? These rejections actually hurt more! The “crushing defeat” was especially crushing because I thought I really knew the person.
And that’s the thing to glean here: knowing a lot of information about a person, doesn’t mean you know the person.
It doesn’t matter how many pieces of trivia you pick up. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only person who’s been told the fact. To truly get to know someone takes time. And if it feels like it’s a lot of work? That’s probably because all the effort is one-sided.
When you’re getting to know someone who’s equally invested in getting to know you, that dynamic makes dating a lot of fun. That type of exchange will feel almost effortless. It definitely won’t feel like work.