I have a bit of a secret-- I've never really dated.
As I've remarked before, my adult dating history has been marked primarily by either being in a relationship, or out of one, with not a lot of time spent in the space in between. Of course, being with the same man from 18 to 24, and then, however ridiculous it may be, finding the man of my dreams soon after that relationship ended sort of takes away much of the possible time in the gray zone.
My first year in college was the only time I tossed around the idea of *just* dating. When a friend I'd known since elementary school and I impulsively kissed one night, I insisted on keeping our label as "seeing each other" for the first month, fearing the effects of too much romantic pressure on our friendship. (Ironically, we did the "exclusive" thing for a month after that, then broke up due to contradictory summer plans, and pretty much never spoke again. Perhaps I should have stuck with "dating" thing a little while longer.)
I also had the one month of "real" dating, aka. seeing more than one person at the same time with no semblance of commitment. Though it was fun, it failed miserably, as college aged guys couldn't seem to comprehend what I meant when I said "I'm not looking for a relationship". One assumed this meant I was an easy lay, and seemed shaken up when I told him "not in a relationship" was not equivalent to booty call. The other couldn't fathom that I wasn't trying to secretly trap him into a relationship, when, truthfully, I wanted nothing of the sort.
So, yes, I may hardly be a dating expert, so you may take my attempts at expertise with a grain of salt.
However, I do have something I would like to say to a number of my female friends:
Dating:You're doing it wrong!!
I can only speak of the members of my own gender, but I can't help but be surprised when I see the same seemingly evident errors being made repeatedly.
So, please ladies, take a lesson from this wholly unqualified lady.
(Ed. note: I have not read any of the following: The Rules, He's Just not That Into You, anything by Dr. Phil, aka. the Devil, or, in fact, any self-help book ever. It is against my psychologist's pride. As such, any similarities or contradictions are completely accidental.)
If you are looking for a relationship, do not sleep with the guy before you have seen him in the light of day.
I am not anti-booty call or friends-with-benefits. If that is what you are looking for, this may be a good first step. I'm also not one of those people who thinks sleeping together on the first date is necessarily a make or break thing.
However, if you meet him at a party/the bar, and have yet to meet him sometime during daylight hours, banging him that first night is not the best of steps if you are thinking/hoping it could turn into something resembling an exclusive relationship. At least wait until breakfast, and the fact that you know he is at least willing to have a real date with you, and then jump him.
I am not saying it can't happen-- one of my best friends is marrying a guy she met at a club. However, she jokes as much as anyone that she fully expected it to be a one-night stand. She didn't go home with him assuming a second encounter, let alone to spend the rest of her life with him.
I am just shocked by the fact that I see friends actually get hurt by the fact that this guy does not call them back. How's he to know you want something more than a one night stand? How do you know he wants something more than that?
If you have a FWB/ booty call situations, you can't expect it to transition into a relationship simply because you want it to.
You started with an exclusive no strings attached stipulation. This doesn't mean that you may not fall madly in love and discover you want to be formally together. However, by entering into such a NSA agreement, you have kind of expressed that you are okay with doing the naughty sans relationship.
If your feelings are getting in the way, by all means, express them-- but don't call him a real jerk if he doesn't reciprocate. And, for heaven's sake, if that is the case, get out before your feelings get too raw and the whole situation explodes.
(If he sleeps with you while pretending to want to be in a relationship with you, and then says he isn't in a relationship mindset, however, then he is a deceitful douchebag.)
If you meet a guy on the weekend, and you get along really well, don't delete your online dating profile and cut loose all the boys you have within the next week.
That is wayyy too much pressure to put on one person, and on yourself, to make it work. At least give it a few weeks to make sure you are both going in remotely the same direction!
If you are already unhappy in the first month of dating, end it.
There are lots of issues you can work through once you have a solid foundation. But, in the first month, you should all be on your best, shiniest behavior. If the problems are coming up before you've grazed the honeymoon stage, you are missing out on the whole fun of being besotted in the first place.
Don't rush "the talk", but don't avoid it completely, either.
I've seen bitter extremes on this one. Some women want to know within the first week if "this is going somewhere", which is a surefire way to bring overanalysis to every stage of the getting-to- know-you process.
On the flip side, if you've been seeing each other regularly for months and you still are afraid of freaking him out by using the word "boyfriend", plus you don't know if he's sleeping with others-- I think it might be time for a chat.
This is the one I know has been rehashed in dating guide after dating guide, but, seriously, a little hard to get doesn't hurt.
I'm not saying you need to be systematic about it, like never calling him, ending the calls first, counting days, and so forth. In fact, I hate any quantitative rule like that.
However, don't throw your all into a budding relationship. Keep on making plans like you would if he wasn't around. Even if you would rather spend Saturday night with him, it doesn't do you any good to hold it free "just in case" if you haven't heard from him and there is a great party going on. It will do him some good to see that you still have an active social life and he isn't the only thing on your priority list. Well-rounded is an attractive trait, after all.
I hope these all seem reasonably self-evident, but then again, over the past few weeks I've witnessed several occasions in which these needed to be reiterated.
Are there any ones I've missed? Any you can think of for the men? Guys, what do you think?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I have a bit of a secret-- I've never really dated.