On Relationships

16 03 2011

I’ve been mulling over relationships and the way I live my life. Conclusions escape me but I do have some thoughts that are worth putting out there. If I’m wrong someone on the interwebs will tell me and if I make a good enough case maybe I’ll help someone else feel free with the choices that they make.

These days it seems that the “single” world is divided into two categories- those who date casually and those who don’t. (We are leaving nuns, widows/widowers and anyone over the age of 35 out of the discussion. I don’t know anything about those people and wouldn’t presume to comment). 

To the best of my understanding casual daters see someone who is a)mildly attractive b)charming c)attractive in some degree. They then ask the person out. If the date goes well then they have more dates until one or both decide to call it quits or to become “Official”. At this point they are boyfriend and girlfriend and have some kind of commitment to one another. There are pitfalls and difficulties for these people I am sure. It must be hard to keep track of that many texting conversations. Honestly I am not sure exactly what these people struggle with- perhaps one of my readers can elaborate.

Those who don’t date casually simply don’t. When they are asked out they move forward with an understanding that relationships are serious business. “If this is a road you want to go down we better be headed somewhere” is the motto. These types of people prefer to be friends with someone before dating. The friendship gives them an opportunity in a no-pressure situation to learn information about the other person’s personality and beliefs.

In popular culture the latter people are decidedly unusual and so are regarded askance. They are labeled “stuck-up”, “snobby”, “cold” and other equally flattering things. Likewise, the no-casual-dating people seem to have a vague idea that the other group is”slutty”, even if sex is not involved. Apparently one can be emotionally slutty, giving away emotions like beads at Mardi Gras.

Neither group sees the other correctly, in my opinion. Some people are able to go out and enjoy another’s company without strings and without betraying themselves. Others are not able to do so, for a myriad of reasons.

For example: I am incapable of casual dating. At least, I am at 23, perhaps I’ll grow out of it. The reason is that I am a loyal, all-or-nothing kind of person. I cannot treat even friendships casually. If I am going to be friends with you then you can expect loyalty, sympathy and my undivided attention when you need me. There is no medium and no “off switch” on my personality. That understood, imagine the scenario where some nice man has asked me out and I’ve said yes. If I cannot half-ass even friendships how the heck am I supposed to behave to a man who is both kind and interested? Perhaps it is a defect of my character but it IS and cannot be argued away.

Far better, to my mind, to develop friendships and turn down dates than to go down an emotional road that some poor hapless man is just not prepared to deal with. Unfortunately that means that sometimes I have to say “no” and hurt people. It also means that I might seem a little cold. To my mind, though, it’s the kindest way to behave.

The good thing about this approach is you tend to leave fewer broken hearts in your wake. The hard part is to be lonely and yet unable to anesthetize your loneliness with a dinner out with some nice person.

The concern that the non-casual-dating people might get stuck in “no” is a valid one. I know people who seem to be in just that situation. If you happen to be in like or in love with a stuck NCD person just keep on keeping on. Patience, they tell me, is a virtue.

 

I’d love to hear thoughts from anyone reading this post. Perhaps you are a casual dating person- tell me about your experiences, if you have some typing time.

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One response

16 03 2011
Aberg

“When they are asked out they move forward with an understanding that relationships are serious business. “If this is a road you want to go down we better be headed somewhere” is the motto. These types of people prefer to be friends with someone before dating. The friendship gives them an opportunity in a no-pressure situation to learn information about the other person’s personality and beliefs.”

I’m under the impression – based on first hand experience and observation – that this group often feels more pressure both inside and outside of relationships. If feelings are present but unstated, you can’t really get to know someone in a casual (i.e. no pressure) way. You become stuck with the anxious questioning that accompanies any kind of unexplored affection. On the other hand, as you said, the “if this is a road you want to go down we better be headed somewhere”-group begins a relationship from the same place of uncertainty but with heap more pressure and intensity.

I would also argue against your “fewer broken hearts” theory. Unexplored feelings can build just as much emotion and energy as feelings that are out in the open.

Uggghhh… I didn’t really finish developing this argument, but it’s class time…

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