WARNING: This is absolutely not a relationship “how to” list, but a run-down on what I don’t do, the dating rules I don’t follow, and why it works for me.

I don’t even write down a grocery list, so I’m certainly not going to follow some list when it comes to picking a partner.

If you had asked me a year ago where I saw myself at 27 years old, I probably would have told you that I’d have two kids and be married to the man of my dreams. But life is unpredictable and rarely takes you where you’re planning to go.

I’m 28 and I’ve had three careers, numerous different living quarters, various friend fall-outs and way more boyfriends than most girls can count on having in their lifetime.

I used to view these relationships as failures because none of them panned out to fit into that dream scenario. As it turns out, though, they led me to a man who opens doors, pays for cabs and thoughtfully offers to take my watch in for repairs. These so-called failed relationships were really just paving my road to get to what many women read “how-to” lists to find: the dream guy.

I called bullshit on the rules a long time ago. Here’s why: I’ve done everything they say you’re not supposed to do. I’ve broken pretty much every dating rule, and I’ve had one hell of a time doing it.

Six months ago I got brutally dumped. After a year of being pushed away by the “dream guy” in the perfect suit, with the downtown corner office and a killer smile, he finally uttered those three small words I had waited for what felt like forever to hear.

I packed up my suitcase and embarked on a confident solo journey through South America, and it felt good knowing he would be waiting for me.

As it turns out, for a pretty honest guy, he was capable of telling the one big lie that makes girls crave those dating how-to lists more than anything (except a bottle of bourbon.)

I avoided. I blocked sites and posts on my newsfeed that tried to tell me what I should be doing in a situation like this. For the first time in my life I decided to be single, forgiving and present in the moment. It was the hardest six months of my life. I was lonely, sick, overworked and overwhelmed.

I avoided online dating, never gave my number out and recycled a bunch of guys that had previously said they didn’t want any sort of a future with me. That hadn’t changed. Yet, I wouldn’t change any of it. I felt all the feels. I hit all the bottoms. Then I started prioritizing me. I may have been single but I finally got to start really getting to know – and accepting – me.

I don’t believe in dating rules or society rules. I have debt, but I also have more memorable experiences than most people I know. I’ve experienced a ton of heartbreak, yet I still love with zero boundaries or inhibitions.

I think you should sleep with a guy on your first date if that’s what you want to do. Be safe, but follow your heart (or loins). I believe you should text or call him first if you want.  I don’t believe you should wake up early to put on makeup to make sure you look perfect before he wakes up the next morning.

I believe in telling all the jokes that come to your mind, no matter how lame and no matter how vulgar. You should invite him out to meet your friends, and use his bathroom when you need to.

Allow you to be you even though it can lay a foundation that can easily deter someone from dating you. That’s a scary reality for some, but you’re not supposed to gel with everyone. If that was the case, finding “the one” wouldn’t have quite the same ring to it.

I’ve gotten drunk with many a boyfriend before, which has led to dramatic blowouts in public places. I’ve made crass jokes when first meeting his group of friends plenty of times, only to garner eye-rolls and “we’ll talk about this later.”

I’ve been poked and prodded about my lack of interest in stimulating conversation on world events and caught my fair share of “oh Katy… You should know these things.” But that just isn’t me. I want to talk about my fear of birds, and why I love my family, and which restaurants I have on my mile long list to try. I want to sit around a campfire and not say anything at all sometimes. I want to cry my eyes out when I have a huge fight with my best friend and I want someone to pour me a glass of wine and rub my back until I stop panicking over a mistake I made at work. I’m a mess a lot of the time but I want someone to see me for more than that.

Everyone wants to be accepted for who they are at all times – even when they’re at their worst. When you allow yourself to be your genuine self around the person you’re with, their reaction is a sure sign of whether they’re right or wrong for you.

Any negative reactions to things I’ve said or done only proved that my past relationships were not a match made in heaven, but instead a ton of lessons in what I don’t want.

I don’t believe in faking my way through moments to stay in relationships with people that aren’t ready or willing to get to know the real me, and love me no less.

The fact is, when you ask couples who have been together for twenty or more years, they’ll tell you that there have been ups and downs. The fundamentals that allow for them to push through in their partnership are trust and respect. How could you possibly trust someone who faked their way through the first three months of dating or longer?

If you don’t like sports, don’t go to sports bars or try to memorize some stats about the home team.

If you don’t care about world events, don’t litter your apartment with newspapers and casually keep CBC on in the background while you’re at home together to keep up with your façade that you actually care about that stuff.

If you don’t like adventure sports, don’t book a trip to Mexico with daily excursions that make your anxiety go through the roof.

If you don’t want to date around, don’t waste your time on Tinder seeking out useless small talk to fill your lonely moments.

What I’m trying to say, is that if you’re following “how to” lists to an exact formula instead of being yourself, you’re committing to a life of lies. There’s no authenticity to your personality once you try to follow the ten steps to get the guy who you think you’re supposed to have because you’re doing what some stranger is telling you to do.

I bet you’re not even listening to your own mother right now but you’re fine with allowing a stranger on the internet to tell you where you’re falling short in your pursuit of relationships?

Be yourself. Be comfortable in your own skin. Make that your list. If he doesn’t like your jokes, your shopping habits or he doesn’t want to get to know your friends and family, then fuck him. Straight up. Tell him to get lost now. Save your happiness while you still have a shred of it before it’s ripped from you.

I know now that in fifty years I don’t want to be pretending that I love sashimi just to be next to a guy in my rocking chair. If that’s what it takes, you’ll likely find me on a bar stool in Sayulita writing about all my old age adventures. Hopefully the man of my dreams will be drinking double rye and Cokes on the stool next to me while I order shots of Fireball rehashing how I yet again tripped and fell onto a beached jelly fish. But if not then at least I’ll still be Funn-Roy. That’s more than alright with me.

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