I’ll admit, I didn’t have any kind of a “game” going for me, in dating terms, until just a couple of years ago. After moving to a new country, Germany, and giving myself an incredible new start, I figured – it’s time for me to be out there. It’s kind of funny, ever since I could remember myself, I wanted to have a partner, or at least loved the idea of it, and yet – from there to actually going through the process of dating? Who has the time or the willpower for that?!

The new start was an opportunity for a new me, and actually giving a shot to being truly vulnerable. Growing up in a warm country with a warm mentality like Israel, I was sure I’d be hit on anywhere I went, but the harsh Berlin reality struck me in the face in ways I couldn’t even imagine.

Sitting at a bar with friends, I never got even so much as a glance from across the room or from a neighbouring table. I am a hopeless romantic, I thought, but I’m no stranger to taking matters into my own hands and handling this myself – and so I found myself downloading not one, but two popular dating apps: Tinder and Bumble. 

As a rookie, and as always, I wanted to learn as much as I could. At the beginning, I agreed to meet guys I barely had a decent conversation with – a guaranteed recipe for a disaster, or as I remember it, a complete bore. Still, I took all precautions, always had dates in public spaces, more specifically, bars, and always updated a friend or two concerning my whereabouts.

Even at this phase, I was extremely lucky, not being forced to do anything I didn’t want to, just had loads of meaningless, wasted hours that I chose to spend on the wrong people for the not-very-right reasons.

The only thing I was forced to do, maybe, is giving my liver an extra shift, since my alcohol consumption, and as a result – my alcohol resilience, was definitely increased.

Don’t get me wrong – all the decisions were mine, and I do not regret even a second, because it got me to where I am today, both as a human being of the female gender, and as a dater.

Time out!

Being a full-time student at the time, and an overachiever, this entire dating scheme was just a bit too much for me to handle, and it got me extremely frustrated.

I decided to take a break from actively dating, focus even more on my studies, and deleting Tinder, it just didn’t fit my desirable user experience. I did, however, kept Bumble, and was using it on a very low key.

That was the best decision and gift I gave myself at the time, because once I got back to the dating scene, I was ready

But this time around, I had the brains to be much more selective in terms of who I dated and my time management, the courage to politely decline prospective dates with guys whom I just didn’t find interesting enough to begin with, and diversified the types of dates I’ve been to. Sure, bar dates were still an option, but I started going for walks, picnics, movie dates, coffee dates and sporty ones.

I highly recommend spicing things up like that, not only for yourself, but also to see how your date handles those. If they happen to suggest an extraordinary date – even better! It’s a good testimony to how adventurous they might be, or at least how creative they are.

Throughout this second phase of dating, I felt much more in touch with myself and my liver thanked me.

Although most of the dates did not end as anticipated, and I never saw those people ever again, from that moment on, I rarely had any bad dates. Seriously, I can count those on one hand.

Once I’ve made the decision to enjoy my time, and to do so with a stranger (as they say, that could be a friend you just haven’t met yet), even the most boring meetings hid a small victory.

I did get to kiss some frogs, most of them were terrible kissers, however, most importantly, I became an excellent conversationalist, even as an introverted person.

I now use this skill proudly on various occasions, and not necessarily and exclusively in dating.

Given the right circumstances (them being, I’m not utterly exhausted and had a relatively good day), a meeting with me would very likely be missing one thing that can make or break any kind of a meeting: awkward silences.

After so many dates, I realized that I can navigate a conversation to my liking, and stir the wheel in any way I wanted.

This notion gave me a sense of control that I liked having, knowing I can make a date an exceptional one if I just wanted to. I had a wonderful time exploring who I was, and getting to know many wonderful strangers (with some, I even wanted to develop a friendship, but no one likes to be friend-zoned). In total, those two phases of dating, including my break in the middle, lasted about a year and a half. 

Then, I met my ex, my first ever serious adult relationship. We were in a committed monogamous relationship (odd, and even extreme in Berlin terms) for a year (which was an achievement for itself), until I broke it off. Yet, it was a great feeling to love and be loved for such a while, and the breakup process had broadened my spectrum of emotions to widths I didn’t think were even possible. I am grateful for that too. 

Third time’s a charm?

I gave myself time to heal, booked the first flight I could to go and see my family and friends back in Israel, and was reminded of how worthy I am.

Shortly after grieving, I got back to the dating game, this time, armed with my renewed self-esteem, equipped with my knowledge, my new realizations, a wider emotional spectrum, and a real desire to be loved again.

My very first date as a newly single woman was alarmingly awkward, but I quickly reasoned that with the fact that I was just new to the game again, and it might have changed just as well as I have.

Also, this guy was just totally weird. I was fortunate enough, though, to date someone right after, with whom I could actually see a future with.

We dated briefly and I learned so much about myself and about what I look for in a partner, before he… got distracted and disappeared. I couldn’t believe that I got so invested in such a short amount of time, and heartbroken again, after just getting out of the woods of my last breakup.

Today, I can see it from another perspective, and I’m amazed by my strength and ability to love and trust someone so deeply, and heal so well after being heartbroken. After all, how many people can say that they were in love twice in one year?

Before I wrap up, and as a list lover, here’s the lessons I’ve learnt summed up, guaranteeing a positive dating experience:

  1. Choose your battles – Although there’s still a lot to be done, we’re so extremely lucky to be dating in 2020 and make the choices we want to make, as women. You can say no, and choose which people you want to meet. My tip is – date whoever made you laugh, or at least very interested, during the texting part. Voice notes can also be very sexy, and phone calls are the best.
  2. Enjoy your time – Especially in winter time, if you already bothered to glam up and get out, make a conscious decision to make the most out of the time you spend with your stranger. Worst case, it just isn’t “it”, and you’ll part ways. It’s most likely (in big cities, at least), that you won’t see this person ever again, so you owe yourself to have the feeling that your time well-spent.
  3. There aren’t bad dates, only bad daters – Use this experience as an opportunity to learn new things about yourself, and become the dater you’d want to date yourself.
  4. Explore your neighbourhood – Find activities that are fun to do for a date in your area, and develop new hobbies! 
  5. Balance is key – Dating isn’t everything. It’s okay to prioritize it, but only to a point where you can keep doing it joyfully, and when it doesn’t hurt other aspects of your life. For example, for me it was over the top to have two dates in two days, having a lot of drinks in each one of them, and having to wake up in the morning for my studies. 
  6. Put yourself first – I find that I have the best dates when I had a good day. Sure, your potential partner will see you in all kinds of days, but especially on the first dates you want to show your best self. Remember, it’s essential that you won’t keep other aspects of your life on hold while you’re dating, and it’s important to pursue other goals and develop yourself.    

In my current (and fourth) phase of dating in the city of poor and sexy, I’m even more selective when it comes to my dates. This time, I also enjoy my single-hood, nurture my friendships, and really appreciate my me-time.

I’m still meeting wonderful strangers, and spoil myself with a good crush every once in a while, especially if they happen to have cute accents!

To be completely honest, though, dating isn’t all fun and games, at least it isn’t if you’re like me and looking for something more meaningful than the notorious one night stand.

Yet, I’m still a hardcore optimist, and see such blissed quality in being open and vulnerable, and forgiving, first and foremost with myself, and then with others.

As my pots and pans in my kitchen will testify, there is always more than one lid to any pot, or pan – so if I handled that, I sure can handle anyone. Hopefully, they can handle me too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Yuval Ackerman is a singer-songwriter, writer and editor, originally from Israel, based in Berlin, Germany. 

As a storyteller, Ackerman consistently looks for new ways to present her perspective of her own life and others. 

On November 2019, she released her first EP, “re:do”, with never-heard-before acoustic versions to some of her old songs. Nowadays she’s working on her follow-up musical project, while co-creating with other artists and musicians, both in Berlin and worldwide, and working as a freelance content writer.

You can check out her site here.