Ask a Dude: How Do I Do the 'Casual Dating' Thing?

Hi Dude
I’m 21 years old and a junior in college.  I’ve had a few boyfriends, but none lasting any more than 9 months, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time being single in the last 3-4 years.  On the flip side, I’ve never just casually dated someone, it’s always turned into a relationship.
Recently, I had a date with a really great guy that I met through the organization that we both volunteer for.  We hit it off right away, had great conversation for the 4 hours we were volunteering together, and he asked if I was interested in hanging out with him the next day.  We went to a local concert, had a lot fun, had a few drinks, had great conversation (again), he took me home, walked me to my door and we had a long, passionate kiss.  Before he left, I told him that I understood how busy his schedule was (he’s graduating in May, on top of having a job and an internship), but I would love to see him again.  He agreed, saying we would “definitely” do it again.  I texted him the next day, thanking him for everything and wishing him a great day.
Fast forward two weeks, and there has been no contact.  At all.  I felt hurt and a little upset.  I ended up sending him a casual, “Hey (name), hope you had a great week, just wanted to say hi.”  He said his weeks had been stressful, asked how I had been doing, and sent nothing back after my response.  Like I said before, I understand he is busy with the semester wrapping up, but I have never not been followed up for a second date.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I didn’t think I would ever see him again, but before going on this date with him I secured a summer internship at the organization – meaning I will be seeing more of him over the next 4 months.  He knows I’m interested in seeing him again, so I’m considering just waiting until summertime to let things progress, if he chooses to let it.  But I am also preparing myself for the possible, “I’m just not feeling this thing” talk.
My question is, because I’m new to this whole casual-dating thing, how can I learn to not become so attached to someone after just one date?  I’ve never known anything different, so when rejection strikes, I take it somewhat personally.  How can I be better at handling this?
–Falling Fast
Dear Falling Fast,
You take rejection personally? I hope you never want to go to into show business. Or have a social life…
Rejection sucks, hands down. You feel lesser, shamed, inadequate, or [insert negative emotional response that sends us to Popeyes for a bucket of extra crispy.] Rejection is the metaphorical lemon that life has handed you, at least for the moment, so the question is: how do you chuck the lemon back at life?
I think your instinct on how to handle this situation, with this boy, is dead on. The ball was in his court and he decided not to hit it back onto your side. If he wants to pursue it when you’re rubbing elbows at work in the summer then deal with him then. Until you get to that bridge, don’t jump off it.
Feeling hurt and upset about a guy you got your hopes up putting you on the backburner sounds like the “appropriate response” to me. Sheeeeeeeeeit, I know I get miffed when a something goes nowhere. So if you’re looking for away to avoid ever feeling disappointed by a guy then WAKE UP, DAMN IT! That’s. Not. Possible.
But can you keep from getting hurt after every first kiss? Yes, if you do it right:
Keep it real: Don’t plan the wedding after date number one. If you go into the first date with the idea that “this could be a nice evening” and feel fulfilled when it is, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary heartache. People overplan, overthink, and overanalyze then feel victimized when their hopes go unrealized. Let your expectations develop as your, whatever, does instead of putting the ring before the proposal.
It’s all happening: Perspective can be Hell to keep in check. But here’s a helpful thought when you feel like the world’s crumbling around you: you are only the center of your world. You may not be the center of everyone else’s. Keep yourself humble, it’ll keep you honest, and form a nice defense mechanism when a prick treats you like a, well, like a prick will treat people. The sun’s going to come up whether you want it to or not. You can’t control his actions, only your own.
Denial: Hey, a healthy level of denial’s necessary to make it through the day. It’s when you deny, like, the Holocaust ever happened, or that Taylor Swift is nothing but a catchy songwriter packaged as an entertainer, that you’re riding the crazy train. Saying “he’s not worth it” or “he was an a**hole” to help give yourself an extra boost of confidence to keep you from falling into a vat of Chunky Monkey can have its value (plus, let’s face it, we all practice denial in some form or fashion, let’s not pretend we don’t!)
Stick to the one-two-three punch of practicing self-protection, hopefully without slipping into the “I’m the only person who matters” territory, and your skin will get a bit thicker with each boy. Take it one date at a time.
The Date Whisperer,
The Dude
[He’s good, right? Sigh, we know. Too bad he’s taken. Check out The Dude’s other insights into the male mind right here.]

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