Over the years, I've come to realize that I'm unfortunately capable of being full on, flat out, boy crazy.
I allowed it, sadly, to shape a lot of my own self-perceptions while growing up, and having a boyfriend became the be-all end-all of my existence. Those feelings would later inform me on how to act in my first (and only, to this day) relationship; I was manipulative and manipulated, emotionally abused, isolated. Real fun stuff. If it weren't for a literal intervention, I'm not exactly sure when I would have gotten out of that relationship. I was angry for a long time after that (mostly at myself), but I think at the heart of it I was scared that it would happen again. I'd make the wrong decisions, burn what remained of my bridges, and become a person I hated.
Thank everything that is sacred, the boy crazy aspect of my personality is now but a whisper in the night; I'm chalking that up as a positive side effect of my introspective single years. Insecurity rears its head (because of course it does), but I have a support system and an inner voice that sounds a hell of a whole lot like Jessie J to tell it to fudge off.
So, by choice or not, nothing was happening for me in terms of a love life for nigh on seven years (she says, as the crowd gasps wildly - that's not even an exaggeration, people still regularly do that), until one day when I just... decided to try dating. Because where's the harm in trying, right? Somebody asked me the other day why I chose now instead of, say, three, four, five years ago, and I didn't have an answer other than I thought it was probably time. There was a period before when I despaired of ever being in a relationship again (because melodrama), but it thankfully melted away into an "it'll happen when it happens" attitude. Which is awesome, because being single kind of rocks.
Now let me tell you, seven years is a long time to get introspective and self-reflect, like there is a shit ton of self-reflecting going on and learning to love yourself and understanding who you are and who you want to be as a person. Being genuine is something I strive for, so if you ask me anything I'll be openly and honestly myself as much as I can, even if that means leaving no mystery to the fact that I'm a nerdy little girl who still enjoys listening to the Jonas Brothers and consumes fanfiction like it's air.
But therein lay the problem - I knew that I liked myself as that nerdy little girl, but what guy would be into that? Seven years is a super awesome long time to self-reflect but it's incredibly one-sided (obviously) and gave me a pretty warped view of what guys find attractive. What I failed to realize was that I was pigeonholing guys as guys, when I should have been thinking of them as people. I knew that people were different, and they were attracted to a lot of different personalities and looks, whereas my view on guys was that they were singularly attracted to leggy blondes with twenty inch waists and tits that you could see from Saturn.
What really messed me up about the concept of dating was thinking I would be bad at it. I'd never dated before, EVER; I literally fell into the only relationship I've ever been in. So to be faced with this entirely new social activity with all these rules and do's and don'ts that I only knew existed through consumed media and weird things heard from friends - I was suitably terrified. But! There does come a point where you have to tell yourself that it doesn't matter if you're terrified, and you're going to try anyways. Positive, proactive thinking! Or whatever.
So I did that. I gave a little less of a damn about what was going to happen, told the angsty and horrifying what-ifs that kept cycling through my head to be quiet for a bit, and signed up for online dating. (Because let's be honest, ain't nobody got time to try and traditionally find a date in Vancouver. That's hilarious.)
And you know what? I didn't end up in a fiery death of my own demise. I mean, I thought I would, but I didn't! (Insert victory arms here.)
What I will tell you is that those conventions of dating - not kissing on the first date, waiting for the other person to text or call you (especially if that person is a dude), etc. - aren't necessarily lies, but they're not rules to live by. If you want to do the complete opposite of those things, you are absolutely entitled to do so. Why? Because there is no one way to date. The spectrum of relationships is so broad and encompassing that what you do right in one relationship won't work in another. And yeah, that's possibly more than a little scary, but that's also what makes it exhilarating and fun! (Kinda maybe sorta? I'm still adjusting to that bit.)
TL;DR, nobody can tell you when you're ready. Hell, you can't even tell yourself when you're ready. It's super vague and definitely frustrating (believe me), but trust me when I say you'll know it when you feel it. Feel your ~feelings, bruh, and know that I support you all the way.