Dating and Going Out

Dividing dating into two different sub-species would help us see things more clearly.

Dating – the word and the idea – makes more sense as the process of spending time with someone with at least one eye towards creating a union. A formal, public union.

Going out – for which we should coin a new word – is all about being with another person (or a number of other people) with a view to simply being with them. Like being in the moment, we’re going out for entertainment, for the company, for passing time or perhaps we’re just looking for a sex partner.

They’re different behaviors, with an entirely different intent. Calling them both “dating” is confusing, leading nowhere particularly good.

Rap Sheet

Do our exes accurately represent who we are?

Gosh, I hope not. They’re exes for a reason, so to judge me by the yardstick of people with whom I no longer have contact seems particularly unfair. It’s like assessing my palate by noting that I ate baby food at one point; it’s absurd.

On the other hand, exes are are a useful aid to figure out what didn’t work. If we’re sufficiently emotionally detached, explaining why this or that relationship failed, and what made us think it might flourish in the first place, is useful information.

Key is the phrase “emotionally detached”. The cooler a person is when talking about their past, the more logical and analytical, the better. Relationships are like enriched uranium, in that we can measure their half-life as a guide to their energy…and possible toxicity.

What we’re looking for is someone whose priors are depleted uranium, and if not quite lead, then well on the way. Dating and coupling with residual relationship nuclear activity in the vicinity is a danger to your health.

And that works the other way around. Best to find someone who can look at our past without the heat of their past affecting their view. If that person isn’t available, there’s no choice but to wait.

Enmeshment

The word “dating” has almost run its course.

Words are powerful for the images and emotions they create, and because dating drives straight to the heart of us as mammals and intellects, it is an especially charged thing.

Removing the links to expectation and desire might be a start to some clearer thinking about finding people. Replacing the word – date, or dating – with something more accurate could get us shuffling along a better path. Detachment from dreams and attachment to reality seems to me a healthy goal, so why not call dating “mesh testing” or “compatibility examination” or “people fitment”.

Yes, all those clunky words won’t replace something so strongly held as dating, but even if we think for a second or two about what we’re actually doing, we might find a useful shift in our outcomes.

Partner in Crime

Online dating is as much of a dysfunctional circus as ever as I discovered last night. Not that I was on a date so arranged, but my friends regaled me with stories.

A catalogue of low-rent prospects…

Weirdos…

Out for whatever they can get…

We re-visited the predictable reactions of normal people to abnormal ways of finding possible boyfriends or girlfriends; it’s horrifying.

One subtle point was one friend’s astonishment at the speed with which people have sex and/or assume exclusivity (whatever that means.) In her mind, dating was about interacting with one or more people with the aim of better acquaintanceship. In other words, she’d be meeting and going out with as many prospects as she wanted.

Men interested in her bridled at her attitude to this, based on the assumption that once they’d met, sex was soon – and sure – to follow, and a monogamous relationship would ensue. This, mind you, between two strangers who’d met for perhaps two hours total.

Her thought was that dating should be time spent filtering and sifting possible candidates for consideration; the prevailing thought among the men she met was that all getting-to-know-you stuff would be compressed into a few dates, there’d be sex and voila! A couple!

Who would volunteer for something so asinine? How many failed interactions, how much emotional exhaustion, how much cynicism comes from this unthinking foolishness?

No wonder people run out of enthusiasm for the thrill and happiness and, yes, work, of marriage. We run a marathon before we run our marathon.

Ready to Date?

Freedom is great and all but freedom without thinking can devolve into chaos.

Take dating, for example. Freedom to choose with whom we want to go on a date, the time, the place and the circumstances strikes me as enormously valuable. We humanoids yearn for connection with others, for all kinds of reasons – if that desire is stymied, we’re all worse off.

Freedom has (as they say in the laywerly trades) attaching responsibilities. If we’re planning to sell ourselves to another (not in the commercial sense, but in the marketing sense) we should be honest enough to be worthy. It’s a matter of trust. If we are planning to project as single, stable, sensible, solvent and studious, we should actually be those things or live in a nearby neighborhood.

On the other hand, if you’re deceptive, dangerous, dilapidated and dishonest, that’s when the chaos begins. Some folks become so accustomed to being one thing and acting another that they think the results are normal. These people give dating and coupling and marriage a bad reputation. For acute examples, see Hollywood.

This is one circumstance where the Golden Rule speedily and demonstrably works in our favor.