I once dated a breathtakingly beautiful man without even realizing that we were dating.

Completely true story. He was gorgeous, and I referred to him in my dispatches home to friends as Hot Guy [Name Redacted]. Tall, blonde, blue-eyed and a surfer as often as he could be when not in our surf-free city, he was devastatingly handsome. He knew it, too. When he asked me if I wanted to go out to lunch one day, I assumed he was just being friendly to the new girl in town.

When we went out for another lunch, I thought he was just very friendly. And by the time he arrived at the happy hour excursions I’d organized, I was feeling too floaty on vodka cranberries to consider the fact that this might constitute a third date of sorts — even when he and I wound up chatting at some other bar, having told the others that we’d meet up with them later.

I still don’t know what the name of that bar was, and I can’t really recall what we discussed, but I remembered thinking that we should be kissing instead of talking.

We didn’t, so I assumed that we weren’t dating. It was only months later that I learned that he viewed our encounters as dates.

Who knew? I didn’t. I would have liked to know — perhaps if he had clued me into this, things would have gone differently.

Years later, I thought I might wind up dating someone who seemed promising. A lot of fun, charming in a goofy kind of way. I had a crush and for once was starting to act accordingly.

Then I saw him one night and realized that he was in the midst of over-the-top PDA; I realized that the odds were slim that he and I were en route to any sort of courtship. His obvious avoidance of me for the rest of that evening — and a long time after that — confirmed it.

Again, who could have known?

I was the product of a small high school, where people were always “going out” but never actually went anywhere, and a relatively small college, where it was largely the same (only with the addition of alcohol and on-campus housing).

I’ve never been what one could call a recreational dater. Or a dater in general.

I realized recently, however, that I might be interested in giving the whole dating thing a shot. It came, amusingly enough, with an inverse Haircut Experiences.

Girls, you know what I’m talking about: after discovering unexpected new-found indepence, you cut your hair (or change the color, which was always my breakup M.O.)

I, however, had no relationship-end to mourn or celebrate when I decided to implement my recent change of style. I’ve been independent for a long time, and I’ve always championed it. Why be stuck using a plural pronoun when I’m perfectly happy with singular use? I’m not a we kind of girl, after all.

I just wanted my damn hair cut.

Something happened, however, when the scissors snipped.

And yet now, I’m on the fence about the whole idea.

How does one who has cultivated a fiercely independent streak in her day even begin to think about letting someone else in?

It’s so foreign to me that I’m left wondering how I missed the how-to lesson along the way.