Correct me if I’m wrong, but dating should probably not be an instant gratification exercise.
Actually, I am wrong. Folks can decide for themselves if that’s what they want it to be, and many do. Let’s find someone to whom we are vaguely attracted, make sure they’re minimally compatible and off we go. It’s a simple and fun game. Everyone’s a winner.
Maybe. In your twenties this might work. Maturity changes us in funny ways though, morphing our values and fiddling with our sense of attraction. One day that girl with a pack-a-day habit and a taste for bad-boys fills our dreams and the next she looks like a stinky tramp. That’s the way we work.
Just as learning a useful skill or studying for a qualification takes time and effort, so does learning how to be with people. Judgement, clarity, discernment, understanding and a little detachment require thought and even discipline. And that’s merely to get to know ourselves, the first step.
The difficulty lies with the fact that few people, if any, are around to guide us. My parents sure didn’t say:
You know, it will take a long time to understand yourself, and only if you carefully examine your actions over years. And then you will do well to apply the same kind of calm contemplation to finding the woman you want to be with as your spouse. It’s a serious business…ultimately, the most valuable of your life.
Yeah. That would have been useful.
We appear programmed to look for the new.
I, for example, am intrigued with new ideas, new ways of approaching old problems, new ways of expressing thoughts.
There is a reason it’s called “news”, right?
(Although I do remember at one point thinking it was an acronym for north, east, west, south. But that destroys my argument here, so I’ll ignore that.)
New cars, new computers, new breakfast cereal, new diets, new clothes, new books and on and on. Whether the newness is leading us or we create the newness doesn’t matter at this point. The New Juggernaut is rolling and unstoppable.
So where does that leave the idea of long-term coupling? If we figure that, for most people and society that permanent attachment to another is good for us, what to do with the urge for the new?
How can we accommodate our desire for the unknown, the unexplored and the bewitching?
The male predilection for tinkering with the mechanisms of things fails in the face of women. More than that, it’s an epic fail. Any quest to deconstruct the feminine and thereby figure out what makes her tick is a flawed endeavour.
And how do I know this, you ask?
Easy enough. I know that there is no Unified Theory of Women because women tell me that they don’t understand women. If ladies, with their multi-spectrum super intuitive lightning fast universal processing minds can’t quite nail their own kind, what hope men?
I’ll answer that: None.
And that’s good news for two reasons. The first is that men are not interested in figuring out women for completely altruistic reasons. We pursue understanding for understanding’s sake, but a part of us wants to know so we can manipulate you.
The second reason is that women are eternally fascinating to us precisely because you’re nebulous. That we are forever unable to quite claim that we truly know even one woman is immensely attractive. We return to you because of your mystery.
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.