Commitment is the whispered subtext underlying all kinds of relationships, but we don’t often talk about it. Why is that? And why is commitment subtle enough to reveal itself without being overt, and obvious enough when it’s not present.
Kregg and I work around the idea.
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Just as motive cannot be easily determined in a courtroom, discovering the intent of your fellow dater puts us squarely in a poorly defined area.
Daters do so for every conceivable reason. I just read an article about how dating websites like for you to be on a “dating treadmill”. Are we surprised? If every single person instantly found the right person, they’d all be out of business. In that way Match, Tinder and the rest are actually about you NOT finding a credible partner. Ah, sweet irony.
The success of online dating sites tells us that a lot of folks are on that treadmill. Dating will be a destination of itself to them, in that it’s a dead-end street. Can we agree that dating should ideally be about actually finding someone with the intent to couple?
Moving past the serial daters should be relatively easy. We then find the serial daters who are in it for just the sex. After that are the non-committers, those who just play at dating and then those who date whilst obligated elsewhere – cheaters, in plain language. All of these folks have intent that varies wildly from our own, and which should lead to immediate dismissal.
Saying “NO” to all these pretenders should be easy, not to say speedy.
Which then pretty much just leaves you, me, and a handful of others as the only well-intentioned daters out there. Wow. It can’t be that bad, can it?
One-night stands might work for you if you’re looking for a warm body to wrestle with. For one night. Or if you’re feeling lonely and figure that the best way to de-lonely yourself is with sex as bait. For one night. Or you perhaps have a need to conquer…as if sex with a stranger were some kind of victory.
All fair enough. None of this is particularly edifying, but not everything can be a work of art.
The least reason for having a one-nighter should be for the sex. We have, it seems, decided as a species that sex is one thing, that there’s good sex and bad sex, that people are either good at it or they suck. C’mon, you know what I mean. It is as if we have made the abstract (in our minds) and the reality (in our lives) of sex as homogeneous as, say milk from the supermarket. All milk is the same, the variation coming only with minor fat content differences and quantity.
Is sex between two random people the same for any two random people?
Are we all turning each other on in the same way?
Do we all feel the same way at any point during sex?
You can see where I’m driving with this. Yes, the physical acts are variations on a theme. But once you have achieved that, the real joy, pleasure, reaction and contact with the other person occurs in your mind. Therefore, for sex to have any chance of being a highlight of your life, understanding your partner’s mental and physical pathways to satisfying sex are the most important part. And that takes time. Lots of time.
Not a night.
There appears to be a large number of single folks who think of dating as a permanent state of being. For them, heading out (or staying in) with consecutive new people is the reason for dating. I can only guess that at some point they figure one of them will stick, and they’ll work it out from there.
The analogy that comes to mind is that of the International Space Station. The hardy souls who spend up to a year whizzing around the joint in a glorified tin can seem pretty happy, and no doubt it’s an awesome experience. Eventually though, they must come back down to earth.
Not least among the problems of long-term micro-gravity are the effects on the human body. Bone loss, muscle atrophy, fluid redistribution and – interestingly – an inability to cry freely (because the tears glob together) are all well documented.
Of course, if you are happy in the dating milieu, go for it. Indeed, if you’re in that sweet-spots of being less than 25, or over 50, lots of dating is a good thing. But it’s worth noting that coming back down to earth for a serial dater might be painful. Commitment is much like gravity, in that it does restrict you and it does require effort to overcome.
However. Our minds and bodies were designed to be under gravity’s influence. Both our mental and physical health are maximized here on earth. I make the case that being coupled has the same effect…in the long term, that is, even if the view is incredible from up there.
* The photo is of Astronaut Karen Nyberg. I guess the credit belongs to NASA, and I apologize if that is not the case.