Thursday, 14 October 2010

In which dating is a minefield and I need a map

Dating these days is, in so many ways, a veritable minefield.

There’s the picking of the chap, and finding one who’d not rather be dating his ex; there’s the picking of the venue, and making sure it’s not somewhere that you’ve been on too many other dates lest the staff start looking at you like the hussy you are; there’s the picking of the outfit, the wine, the suitable anecdotes that won’t make you look batshit crazy.

And, if a girl manages to pick her way through all that, she’s often left not much the wiser about her situation.

Gone seem to be the days when one could rely on meeting someone, knowing them a while and then getting married, destined to get under each other’s feet for decades to come, à la Parentals Blonde.

Now instead there are dates and drinks and dinner – sometimes several of each, and not always with the same man – before anything more fruitful can happen. And even then, it can be impossible to know quite where you stand.

In my dating experience, dalliances these days seem to be rather fluid: lacking in boundaries, it can be hard to tell quite whether what you’ve got is a flirtation or the beginning of one life’s great love stories (though, let’s be honest, it’s generally not the latter).

Say you’ve gone on six or seven dates with someone over a month or so. You can enjoy each other’s company, have all and various kinds of fun before suddenly finding that dates start to peter out before stopping entirely, leaving you none the wiser as to what it was you were doing for the last six weeks.

In that time, you’ve managed to drift not only into the start of something, but also its middle before wafting right through and out the other side before you’ve really had time to process what it was you were getting yourself into in the first place.

And somehow, before you know it, you’re single again and back to square one. But were you ever unsingle in the first place? A few dates and a casual approach to the diary – all well and good for someone like me who likes to see a boy she likes, but not necessarily too often – hardly constitutes a relationship. Although I think it probably means you shouldn’t be out and about screwing other boys (not that I am, you understand. Chance’d be a fine thing).

Of course, it works the other way too. If you’ve been out with someone a few times, wandered your way round a variety of museums making intelligent comments about the sense of movement in the drapery on the pediment figures of the Elgin Marbles, and less intelligent comments after several bottles of wine at small bars in Kensington, what’s the deal? You’re seeing each other, sure. But what’s to say either of you isn’t seeing other people? At what point does spending time with each other, drinking and flirting, the occasional lingering kiss mean that you should stop screwing the other boys (see above)? At what point do you decide that this is Slightly More than Dalliance territory?

And how the hell do you come to any of those conclusions without actually asking Chap in Question, which would quite obviously make you that crazy woman who wants to know “Where This is Going” and no one wants to be that crazy woman.

As I say: minefield. I suppose the answer is to try and pick one’s way through – ever so carefully – and just hope the whole thing doesn’t explode under your feet. Pass the body armour.


jman said...

Sounds like too much thinking about it going on and less doing what feels right to you at the time (and the latter can include lessons learned). Who can enjoy time together when existential questions on the meaning of it all are constantly the framework in which it exists? Perhaps it is the writer's burden or maybe it is just inherent in the dating milieu once one has decided that one is looking for the LTR and more.

Redbookish said...

Oh dear, I know soooo well what you're talking about! You're describing my summer, basically. And the ease of e-mails & texts doesn't help the drifting evanescence, either. From 3 to 4 e-mails/texts and photos a day in the spring to one a week by September, if I'm lucky. And all along, I deliberately resisted the "Where is this going?" or even the flirtatious "I think I have a crush on you" conversations. Just about ready to give up on boys, actually. Getting sick of the emotional f***wittery.

Blonde said...

Jman: I think that might just be the first time I've ever been accused of thinking too much! You're probably right. Although I think it might also be a male / female thing. Or maybe just me: I like to know where I stand.

Redbookish: Ah, I am glad other people know what I mean (although sorry you've experienced it for yourself too). And you're not alone in that resignation either...

Girl Friday said...

Not to trivialise the genuine angst that dating causes nor to be cliche....BUT! There is something that happens when it's not just another boy, but actually the right boy, that changes the game. Sure, there is still the make them chase you a bit BS and the wondering a little how they feel, but it all somehow works itself out and you aren't left questioning your every move. I don't really know how to explain it, but when you know, you know? It's like the Post-It marriage, when it happens, you just get there but you aren't really sure how you arrived.

nuttycow said...

I'm afraid to say I'm firmly in having "The Talk" camp. At some point it's got to happen and you've got to stop being scared of seeming like crazy woman. If you don't have The Talk then he's just going to think you're a pushover (which you're not).

You don't have it on the first date, obviously, but after a month, it's time to talk the plunge.

theperpetualspiral said...

I'd say that after a certain time, it is easier to just have the talk, albeit informally if possible, just so that you can establish exactly where you are and where you might be going.

Not for the first month though, otherwise that may be construed as 'TheCrazyMental'.

Caroline said...

I always fall back on old faithful, "how does he introduce me"? When you stop being "This is my friend..." and start getting "This is my girlfriend" you probably need to stop seeing other boys... I recently sashayed into "other half" territory without really realising it - made me think it might be time to delete my profile from

soupemes said...

Despite the lunacy that prevailed on my blog over the summer and all the confusion around "Are we? Aren't we?" with The Designer, I have to say that I agree with Girl Friday. If it's something more than just a dalliance, it will just work out. Doesn't help you wondering if it is going to work out of course.

That said, I also believe in "The Talk" a la Nutty.

But I believe the talk is only an issue when it was destined to go nowhere anyway.

I don't feel I have made any sense here really but I know what I mean. Do you?

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

I started things with the Boyfriend knowing that I was leaving the country in a month, so it was all quite chilled as I didn't really care if it worked out or not.

But having read Girl Friday's comment, I have to agree. I think things are just different when you meet someone who has the same mind set and wants the same as you do. There's less to worry about, the whole process of dating becomes almost transparent. Not sure how to explain it.

Dream in Grey said...

If you're confused about where something is going then a talk is usually good. the worst thing you (or he) can do is either let things fizzle or drop contact when its not right - that's just rude

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