Monday, September 8, 2008

The reluctant date

A strange phenomenon has occurred amongst my friends since entering into the working world. They called it “dating” in the olden days. From the relics, I know that it involved drive-ins, sodas with two straws and couples giving each other pins. Today, it involves "meet you there since I'm running late from work," possibly wine to ease the tension (no straws) and Facebook relationship status updates.

Some people might not consider dating to be “strange” nor a “phenomenon,” but those are also people who probably didn’t grow up dealing with unlimited forms of indirect communication readily available for passive aggressive conversing.

In middle school, there was Instant Messenger. In high school, everyone got cell phones and the new concept of the text message. In college we hailed the advent of Facebook. And in the real world, the have e-mail that we sit in front of day in and day-out, in addition to all of those other things. (Yes, at my job in New York everyone was on Instant Messenger.)

Dating, as my generation was raised to believe, was some fable about going out socially with another person to get to know them. In college, however, dating was largely absent and never casual. There were people in serious relationships and people who were seriously single.

Nowadays, more and more of my conversations and correspondence with friends is regarding the topic of the guys we date or go on dates with (there’s a difference.) The common denominator, though, is the reluctance of the female.

This is sounding like an exposition on the Discovery Channel.

The thing is, “dating” is very novel to my friends. There have been “guys” over the years, but when men come into the picture it’s a different ballgame. Dating is a concept we’re all struggling to define for ourselves individually and yet discuss communally. For years we’ve all dealt with the totally-wrong-for you noncommittal types, or the nice-Christian-guy noncommittal types or the random noncommittal types held over from camp or school that always seem to keep in touch. Everyone has their own breed.

But now, out of the safe haven of college and parties and thrust into a world where your marital status is suddenly different from someone your own age and girls don’t flock to them at parties, guys have evolved. They suddenly ask introspective questions and make lunch/dinner plans and are very forward about their feelings and intentions.

When people start using words like “pursue” and “intentional,” sometimes a lady starts feeling a little less like the object of affection and a little more like a deer on opening day of hunting season.

It’s all very confusing, you see. We were so used to the old ways; that the reality of someone calling and making plans, being respectful and gentlemanly and calling again with more plans and respect and yada leaves girl with a conundrum. I’ve heard some version of the same story from several of my friends over the past few months…

“Here’s a guy who has all of these x, y and z qualities, looks great on paper, I like spending time with him, but I don’t know if I’m interested.”

So there’s the truth- what women want is such a mystery to men because we don’t have it all figured out either. We’re just making this up as we go along and analyzing every step of the way, since that’s what we ladies do best. It's also great to be reminded that we don't know everything, and though we may have careers and goals and a great cameraderie amongst ourselves, we still have a long way to go.

It isn’t that we don’t want to date and are totally disinterested in suitors- we just like to take our sweet time making decisions.

“I’ve been dating since I was sixteen- I’m exhausted!”
-Charlotte from “Sex and the City”

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