Monday, 03 October 2011
I have a couple of questions about dating, one of which has been bugging me for years, and the other prompted by a Datingish post I just read, "Have You Ever Done 'the Fake Reach'?" Horrifying post, it and the comments establish that a lot of people play games. My two questions are:
1) Why do people play so many games? (prompted by the Datingish post); and
2) Why must dating be so serious?
Game-playing seems to be endemic in dating. Game-playing and testing. Testing? Really? The point of dating -- aside from having fun with interesting people -- is to scope out potential mates, so on the surface "testing" a person seems to fit the purpose, but setting up contrived situations to see how the person will respond strikes me as very manipulative and cynical. If I found out that someone I was dating "tested" me, that would be the last date. Playing head games is another one. My wife and I have had plenty of problems in our relationship, but they have all been honest. I don't understand "playing hard to get," or things like that. It seems far more relaxing to simply be straightforward with people. I've never understood the social games.
The second question is bigger in my mind. Why must dating be so serious? I've been around a lot of high school students, and they seem to go exclusive right off the bat. One minute they're single, then the next, they're exclusive. It seems to make everything so high-stakes. Rather than serial monogamy, why not just date a lot of people casually? Get to know a lot of different people. Grab a burger and shake at the diner with one girl on Friday night, and on Saturday hang out at the park with another one. Next weekend, take in a movie with another girl and maybe play handball with a fourth. Try out a lot of different people, and you learn how to interact with more people, you find out what you like and don't like. You just have fun with a lot of different people, and everything isn't so life-or-death.
One response I received was that if you date lots of people, you get a reputation as a slut. *Sigh* I guess that's a byproduct of sex becoming so easy. When people weren't expected to have sex, going out with someone did not mean you were having sex with her. I guess now people do assume that you are boinking. Just another unintended consequence of the sexual revolution. My retort to that response is, "So what?" I guess my retort is a bit easy to make, considering that people treat you differently based on reputation and I'm sure a girl who picks up that reputation will get hit on more blatantly and crassly by the buttheads and douchebags in her school. So, yeah, the reputation has real consequences, but at some point we learn that conducting our lives based on what will happen to our reputations is a poor way to go about things. Conduct your life by a concept of right and wrong, and the reputation will generally follow -- at least with the people whose opinions matter.
Remember Little Miss Sunshine? The grandfather's advice? "Fuck lots of women." That would be my advice to college upperclasspersonages and post-college young adults.
My advice to high school students would be different. "Date lots of boys/girls." Go on a lot of first and second dates. Not so many serious relationships. Don't rush into love and sex. If love happens, then great. Plenty of high school sweethearts go on to have great marriages, but very often we force relationships out of anxiety. Let it develop. In the meantime, go out there and have a nice time with a lot of different people, and keep it light. Life is serious enough.
So, yeah, why must dating be so serious?