“I’m not like other girls.” A dating term that sprung up around the time of the ~ cool girl ~, where we’d pretend we liked stuff to impress people we dated, even when we actually did not like said stuff at all.

While the Cool Girl concept feels like it’s on the way out – more and more, we’re moving away from that I’m-so-chill-look-at-me-being-chill ideal – “I’m not like other girls” feels like it’s still annoyingly hanging around. I can attest to this, since I fall into it’s trap all the time.

I’m not proud of it. But I do want to be honest, because I know it’s not just me. I see women pit themselves against other women in the dating scene constantly. While we’ve started embracing our uniqueness, sadly we’ve also started obsessing over BEING unique.

Being afraid of seeming “basic” is definitely the foundation of “not like other girls”. Basic = falling into the masses. Enjoying things everyone else enjoys. We’re deeply afraid of homogeny, when naturally as a society we’re going to have trends.

We want to stand out from the rest. We want to fall into the smaller trend pools, or even better – like things no one else likes. We want to exist on a higher plane, where we don’t share traits with other women.

The reason, I believe, we fall into this trap is because dating in 2020 is HARD. While I love apps and think they are the best thing to have happened to dating – they also mean we’re aware more than ever before how many fish are in the ocean.

That means dating can sometimes feel like a competition. Instead of searching for someone we have a spark with, we start panicking that we need to be the most alluring, sparkly, interesting person on the planet to MAKE a spark with them. Reading it back, it sounds stupid. But I bet you’re also like “well, shit. That’s me”. It’s like we’ve forgotten that connections are based on two people’s personalities naturally gelling… or maybe deep down, we just think our real personality isn’t up to scratch.

It’s all subtle stuff, the way I fall into the “not like other girls” trap. It’s when I order a beer for my first drink instead of a vodka soda, because while I really want the vodka, I know it’s associated with being “basic”, since it’s such a popular beverage with women. It’s acting like I don’t reeeeally like The Bachelor, I just have to write about it for work. Playing up my love of Tarantino movies when I actually fell asleep three times while watching Pulp Fiction. Choosing the burger over the salad, when I really wanted the salad.

These days it’s not really about forming an entirely fictional persona. For example, I do love beer. I won’t completely write off an interest in The Bachelor. I genuinely enjoyed Django Unchained. I like burgers. But I’ll still make conscious choices to avoid being lumped in with the female masses.

I even do it with my social media posts. I’ve often found myself over-thinking my feed – what does this post of me drinking THAT specific drink say? Does it make me seem too girly? The sheer joy that comes with a thirst trap accumulating likes from guys I’ve once dated who are attracted to ~ cool girls ~. That stuff.

At the end of the day, it’s all insecurity. The irony is, our obsession with being “not like other girls” really comes down to us feeling hyper-insecure, needing to appear truly authentic even at the cost of actual authenticity. The rise of embracing our uniqueness has meant we now act like any association with mass interests dilutes our individuality, which in turn makes us just as fake as we were before we started embracing our true selves.

“Not like other girls” has also has never, ever helped me with dating. As soon as I fall into the trap, I start performing instead of being genuine. Yes yes, we all perform to some degree when dating – especially on first dates. But it’s still unhelpful. We eventually slip up and reveal our real interests and behaviour, which means we either realise we have nothing in common with whoever we’re dating, or that we didn’t need to be faking it the entire time anyway – we could have just been genuine from the get-go.

I believe this is why so many people say their best relationships have come at times when they weren’t even looking. Because when we aren’t interested in dating, we wind up just being ourselves around other people, forming real connections. I’m taking this as a learning – the most attractive personality I can have is just my ACTUAL PERSONALITY.

For 2020, I’m making it a goal of mine to be vigilant when it comes to “not like other girls”. To drink the vodka soda if I want it. To be myself.