Relationship: A connection with another being to which there includes emotional investment. i.e. acquaintances, friendship, family, partner.
Dating: The process of getting to know someone with the intent to grow emotional investment, with romantic undertones.
Boyfriend, Girlfriend, Partner: An established commitment with someone(s) to dedicate regular time and attention to sustaining and nurturing a specific type of emotional investment, usually with romantic tones.
Marriage: A binding contract which may or may not include emotional investment, romance, land and finance management, business alliance, and or legal regulation.
Monogamy: The action of being emotionally involved and invested, and romantically involved, with one other person. See also: Open relationship.
Polyamory: The action of being emotionally involved and invested in more than one person, likely in a romantic capacity. See also: Ethically non-monogamous. [Also see chapter on Polyamory for full explanation.] I.E. High emotional investment, low sex investment.
Open relationship: That of being monogamous with the agreement that partners can have non-emotionally invested sex with other people.
Ethically non-monogamous: That of maintaining many sexual partners with open communication and emotional consideration, but little emotional investment. I.E. Low emotional investment, high sex investment.
As you can see the world of ‘romantic relationships’ can be tough. There are so many options and definitions to choose from. Frankly, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. It goes on and on. Truth be told, when it comes to defining your relationship(s) the only people who get to choose are those directly involved. We’ll circle back to this later. For now, let’s talk about dating.
The first thing to know about dating is that unless a subject is discussed and terms are confirmed, nothing is set in stone.
Dating is the ‘getting to know you’ portion of a relationship, and it’s frankly gotten hella tangled in the modern day. Some of the reasoning behind this is our societies feelings toward and about sex. When the term ‘dating’ was coined in 1896 by George Ade, a columnist for the Chicago Record, it was in relativity to an influx of women moving into big cities to join the work force. Previous to that ‘dating’ was a formal courtship which included parental supervision in very refined scenarios. If a young woman was seen out with a man they were either married, or she was a prostitute. Plane and simple. With a rise of women in the work place, particularly after WWII, that perspective was forced to change. Women were needed for more varied roles than wife and child bearer, and they were no longer under the yoke of their fathers. Frankly, it was inevitable as dresses with pockets. Dating arrived with women’s right to vote.
Previously it was unlikely that you were going to have sex before you were married, let alone be seen talking to a man without a chaperone. Courting, as it was called, it was a staking of claim on another person. No flag?! No country! Ideally all members were virgins and courting was a statement saying, ‘this virgin is mine and I will have them in marriage!’ Having any sense of sexual promiscuity or, tiny gods forbid, love, meant shame and social ostracization.
During the 50’s dating became a little more regular as general education grew with public schools, allowing boys and girls to attend school together. Previously, separating the genders was the standard. It’s not that separating the genders had really stopped dating and sex, it just made the process more difficult. Even then, social regulation meant that if you were dating or having sex, it wasn’t a publicly known thing. Life was often a parental announcement that a boy and a girl (the girl would be a virgin, the boy… meh) were intended for marriage, they’d ‘date’ to make sure they wouldn’t kill each other (and to see if any better offers popped up), and then a negotiation between parents would occur, money usually exchanged, a brief engagement (mostly for wedding planning) and a ceremony. Done and done, probably before the girl was 20.
During the 50’s things had escalated a hair away from land management and business transaction marriages to the concept of marrying for love. There were still strong parameters around what was and was not acceptable, but for the better part, if you met someone you liked you could date them, go steady, ask them to marry you and start a family. Comically enough, this format was almost exclusively White Nuclear America, which gained traction around 1947 as the status norm due to the advent of the TV, which suddenly allowed one ideal to be broadcasted across a country. It’s truly astounding how American standards of social conduct were affected and continue to be affected by the media.
In today’s society we arent trying to hide sex. We agree that young kids shouldn’t have sex, but outside of that, we dont much care if people date, their genders, virginity, any of it. Not as much, anyway. It’s no ones business what people do behind closed doors, and its socially acceptable and expected that people date. We’ve come a long long way in the last 70 years.
Today’s process of dating is something else entirely.
Apps like Tinder have really thrown a wrench in the works for what dating is. Its now perfectly socially acceptable to basically order sex. Before, you saw someone you liked and asked them out, went on a date or two, and got around to having sex. With Tinder, ya sign on, find someone, meet up, chat for awhile, and get down to business. That means ‘dating’ is only ‘awhile’.
Let’s be real here. That’s not dating.
That’s an interview to see if you might be worth having sex with. Tinder, the concept, is completely separate from anything like dating. It was made to be that. It wasn’t intended for dating. It was intended for sex. And that’s great. But kids today, they’re being raised with Tinder. They don’t know what dating is. Dating was never taught to them.
The internet has been paramount at killing dating. Now we either have long online conversations through websites like Okcupid, Facebook, videogames, etc., to which we make mental emotional investments with the presentation of someones online representation, and then we go bang, or we order sex through Tinder and the like, and bam, bang again.
In short, no dating.
What does that mean for society? Largely it means we’ve forgotten how to approach each other. It also means that we’ve forgotten how to romance each other. We’ve forgotten how to listen. We’ve forgotten how and what a intimacy even is.
Once upon a time dating was the lead up to sex, but hopefully it was an emotional lead up. Sex wasn’t the goal, love was the goal. Sex, you can train a person, teach them to have good or bad sex. That’s communication, a physical skill. You have to learn about a person to love them. That takes time. Now that’s all confused.
A lot of people, for one, arent looking for love. They aren’t even really looking for company. They are only looking for sex.
Another portion of the population are looking for distraction. It’s more self centered. They don’t really want to care about their partner, they just don’t want to be alone. There is nothing wrong with that, if your honest and up front about it.
Another portion is looking for love, but not real love. They want Disney fantasy love. They want promised day-dream love. These folks shoot themselves in the foot a lot because they are looking for someone and something that is not real. They believe they are supposed to get things, are guaranteed love and a home and kids and Disney magic. They want prince charming and the castle. They forget, pretend, ignore that they are just normal people. False expectations. Disney is a cartoon because it’s not real life. People in media who look like they have the Disney dream, that’s a small portion of their lives they are showing you. Loving someone takes work and commitment and negotiation.
Those three categories right there, that’s a huge portion of the overall population, and they aren’t into dating. They don’t or aren’t working on emotional romantic investment. Not really. Most have no idea what a real emotional investment looks like and they’re frankly afraid to try. What if they get hurt? What if they’re rejected? What are these feelings? What are feelings!?
What’s more, they aren’t really clear of the value of emotional investment. They simply don’t understand what they are missing.
What is the value of dating?
The value of dating, pure and simple, is fun. You are going out with someone and you want to have fun with them. The dates, those are events, outings, destinations, hobbies, experiences which allow you to get to know that other person better. Shared experiences, watching each other, learning, that leads to understanding a persons quirks and reactions, and all of that leads to better sex, all of which can lead to feelings, ideally of which feel great.
The rest of the population are into getting to know each other. They’re into building relationships and seeing where things go, with low expectations of failure or success, and hope for something good and loving. This group is ideal, the best of humanity, and… well… stuck in a rut. At the end of the day this population is so spread out that it’s incredibly hard to find the like minded in the sea of emotionally closed off people just looking to fuck.
Media has provided some few apps for ‘dating’ and for the most part, if a person is really looking they’ll find someone. But an app is just an introduction. You still need to know how to date.
Dating is like a job interview. Ya need to practice going on dates. Ya need to not worry so much if this date will be ‘the one’. Most importantly, dating is FUN. Going on a date should be fun. If you’re not having fun, then what are you doing?
Some Basics on How to Date
First, you need to have a clear understanding of your goals. Why are you going on dates? What are you, specifically, looking for? This is important because this is a boundary which should not waver. This will set up long term success, or failure. Are you looking for a long term relationship? Are you looking for a regular fuck-buddy? Are you looking for an adventure?
I’m a hopeful romantic. I love to be in love. That’s all I’m looking for. For me, that makes dating easy, as it leaves a lot of options open.
A lot of people, when they date, are looking for a relationship. That’s awesome. It is super important to remember that until the two of you discuss with words what your relationship is, define it for yourselves, that dating does not imply ownership. You can date as many people as you like at the same time… that’s the point of dating. Once you define a ‘closed’ relationship with someone, you’re no longer dating.
No matter what, dating is about communicating. All you are doing in dating someone is getting to know someone else and letting them get to know you, and that means being honest with them about who you are and what you are about. They should do the same with you. That’s why a date should be fun. If you’re trying to be someone else, someone you think they’ll like, the date won’t be fun and the relationship won’t last.
Remember, when you look at yourself and think you suck or aren’t good enough, keep in mind that you just aren’t your type. That likely means you ARE someone else’s type. You don’t get to decide how others see you. Give others the chance to see you.
This is the hardest hurdle because it requires you to be brave. It requires you to say to yourself, I have nothing to lose, so why not try? This is not gender specific. This is not a guys to girls or girls to guys or them to they or they to them. This is not an introvert or extrovert issue. This is how we meet and approach people, and it is simple.
You see someone you think is interesting, wherever, bar, cafe, park, working, whatever. Maybe you share a glance or a small banter or whatever. You are interested. This is what you do and it’s all that you need to do:
Write your name and number down on a piece of paper. Approach the person and say: ‘Hey, Wanna go out sometime?’ Smile.
As they go to object, which is a natural human response (like a deer in the headlights, seriously, 90% of humans will do this) put up a pausing hand and say ‘look, you don’t have to decide now. Here’s my number. Gemmi a txt if you like’. Smile. Hand off number or put on surface in front of them. Walk away.
Return to a seat is best, somewhere in eye sight but not directly in line of sight. Go about doing anything else. Look at your phone. Pick up a paper and read (or look like it). Hang out for 10 -20 minutes if you are on your own – no more. If you’re with company forget about the whole thing. Go about hanging out with your friends. If hanging out is not an option then make your leave. It’s cool. No big deal.
As you leave, try and make eye contact once more with a smile.
There. That’s it. That’s all you ever have to do.
Now, the things to mention here are this: The first is that you absolutely must not stare at a person, and short of doing the above, you should not interact with them further unless they instigate interaction. Do not in any way touch them when you drop off your number. Just smile. Eye contact is good.
Keep in mind that some people don’t want to be bothered. Some people aren’t single. Some people are socially awkward. Maybe they aren’t attracted to you. Maybe they had a bad day. Maybe you simply surprised them, and they’re too shocked by your hotness to know what to do. Whatever. There are a thousand reasons a person may not respond to being hit on (yes, asking a person out on a date is hitting on them – in an old school genteel sort of way), and you shouldn’t take any of them personally, which means, for the better part, leaving them alone. This is why to leave after 10-20 minutes. If they aren’t into it then you leaving gives them an easy out. Asking a person on a date in no way should be an assault or make a person uncomfortable. Not the goal. Hitting on a person is a minimum investment into someone you absolutely don’t know and bare no responsibility towards. Don’t sweat what it could be. Sure, they’re hot or beautiful or interesting and your blood is boiling and your hearts caught in your throat. But whatever. That’s biology. You are a human monkey ape what has a biological desire to procreate. Bonobos. Get over it. All of it. Have no expectations. It isn’t a thing yet. Just drop a number. Good. Simple. Done.
On the other hand, the other reason to hang out for 10-20 minutes is because if they are interested and you did just happen to surprise them, they may come over and talk to you to find out more.
See, key here is that you made your desires and intentions known. Simple. No guises. You didn’t make anything weird up. Ya were not fancy. You were honest and straightforward. For most people, that will be intriguing enough. Seed planted in their minds. It also shows confidence, which pretty much everyone finds super attractive.
You’re going to do this number bit a lot. Like, a lot. Ya sort of have to. Do not do this bit to multiple people in the same location. Worse case scenario they figure out you’re trying to play the field and get pissed. Best case scenario, they figure out you’re trying to play the field and ignore you. Everyone wants to feel special.
In the event said person does come up and talk to you a handful of canned responses are useful to have in your back pocket. What I mean is, often it’s easy to get tongue tied when talking to someone new. Fall back on complimenting their fashion (never their features – a person didn’t make their eyes, it’s not a compliment to tell them they have beautiful eyes). Compliment them instead on their eye makeup, haircut, jacket, shoes… anything they choose. Everyone loves to talk about themselves. Ask questions and listen. Lastly, a great canned lined is some variation of: “Well, just so you know, you seem very interesting.” It’s a good line if you can immediately state what you find interesting about them. It can backfire if ya have no response.
If ya tank in the conversation, no worries. Seriously, don’t stress about it. Dating is like everything else in life – we have to practice, make mistakes, improve. No one is born knowing how to communicate. Its something we work on. Dating, making friends, job interviews, video games, riding horses, everything… we have to work at it, practice at it. Don’t get down on yourself if you suck the first time. Ya probably tanked the first time at what is now your favorite thing. Just high-five yourself that you tried, make a note of what didn’t work, and try again.
Also, that super hot person your into, they did all this. They tried and tanked and failed and tried again until they figured out what worked for them. We all do this. Everyone of us. Also, the super hot beautiful person, they work HARD to be that. We all work to be worth being seen.
Another thing about meeting people… you’ll always have a better time of things if you are introduced by someone else, even if that person isn’t someone you actually know. Its weird, but formal introductions put people at ease. It’s the How I Met Your Mother: ‘Haaaaaave ya met Ted?’ If someone else introduces you to someone it… I don’t quite know… validates you? You’re suddenly not a random? I know it seems strange, but it’s weirdly effective.
Also, we need to talk about body language and eye contact for a second. One of the great confusers is when you think someone likes you and you are just not sure. When I was young we liked rubbernecking quite a bit. If you turned your head as you walked past someone, and they did the same, it was a pretty good reason to stop and chat. Simple, clear, effective. In the modern day I still go with that tactic. If I see someone looking, and I’m looking back, I’ll wave or mouth hello. If they respond then I’ll go chat. If they don’t, then maybe I was wrong. Sometimes it’s awkward as fuck. Sometimes it’s real brief. Sometimes it’s awesome.
Here’s what I’m getting at: People are so distracted by their personal lives that they often are not focused on what their body language is saying. They may make absent eye contact, a smile, or a body language which says, ‘come hither’ and have no idea that they’ve done so. The only thing to do when you think a person is saying with their body that they want to talk to you is to go start a conversation with them, and be willing to walk away from that conversation if shit gets awkward. Seriously, be willing to try, and be willing to walk away on a dime. We are, at the end of the day, humans, and our words are the ultimate yes or no, no matter what our body language or dress says. Ya can’t fault people for being unaware of their body language. Our society is very confused and sends mixed messages all the time. Communication is key.
USE YOUR WORDS LIKE AN ADULT.
Whew. Okay, so we’ve made first contact, we’ve left the scene, and now we wait for a phone response. Swingers stated that the method was wait 3 days and call. Sure, some people will do that. Really, most will txt within 24 hours. There is a sense of timing when it comes to dating and more than a week, really even 4 days, is too long. If there’s real interest you’ll get a txt within 24 hours. Any which way, this part is nothing to concern yourself with. Txt or don’t txt, it doesn’t matter. Ya gave someone your number and your going to move forward with your life without caring if they do anything with it. Be happily surprised when someone txts you, instead of disappointed that someone didn’t. Period.
Yes! They Said Yes!
Okay, next step: You’ve found someone and they’ve said yes! Yes, they will go on a date with you! Congrats!
What kind of date? This goes back to The Point. Are you going on a date to find a fuck buddy? A long term relationship? The kind of date you take someone on should be in direct relation to your purpose for dating. A fuck buddy date might be a bar or show. A long term relationship might be dinner. Are you really interested in getting to know them? Do you really wanna talk to them, or show them off as arm candy?
It never hurts to ask a few questions about a person’s likes, but for the most part you should already have a date in mind.
Avoid going to see a movie or a show on a first date, unless the purpose of the date is to be willfully party hardy together. What I mean is, ya can’t really talk or get to know someone at a movie or a show. If y’all don’t care about getting to know each other then a show is great fun. It’ll get your energy up and probably lead to some fun romping late-night sex. But it’s not a good emotional connection. If your Point is to have someone to play with, then that’s a good date.
A meal and a mild project is usually a good call for a first date. A mild project is something of low demand you can do together and talk about. If you love pinball, take em to a pinball museum. If ya love hiking, take em on a walk around a lake with a picnic. Trivia is usually pretty good. That first date, ya want to have a mild distraction, a conversation starter, so that if things get awkward ya have something to turn too… but ya dont want the thing to be so distracting that your date loses sight of you.
Remember, dates are about sharing, getting to know each other. Be sure to give each other time to ask questions and answer them. Give each other a chance to talk. A good date will naturally weave in plans for a second date. If date one was more oriented towards your interests try and make sure date two is more oriented towards their interests, so that you both get to know each other equally. Dating should be a two way street. Both parties need to be interested. Also, going on a date doesn’t have to mean going out. Asking someone home to make them dinner or read comics, or listen to records, because you’re a home body, absolutely counts.
Also, do not expect sex on either the first or second date. Really, its best not to expect sex at all… though wanting is fine. On a first or second date, try and get a kiss in. Kisses are important. Kisses will tell you a lot about a person. Remember though, it all boils down to consent. Ask before you kiss your date. “Hey, may I kiss you?” You think its not sexy… but it’s HELLA SEXY.
Okay, post two dates you should both have an idea about what’s going on. Ya should have a sense if your both into it, or if its more one-sided, meaning one party is more interested than the other. If ya haven’t already talked about what you’re looking for/ want in a relationship then ya need to attack that subject somewhere in date 3 or 4. By date 4 ya’ll are ‘dating’. Remember, just because you are ‘dating’ doesn’t mean your exclusive to each other. Define the relationship.
Its gonna keep being ‘dating’ until ya’ll define it as anything else, and that takes agreements. We agree to not date anyone else. We agree to not have sex with anyone else. We agree to fall in love and spend a lot of time together, and date other people. We agree to fall in love with each other, and to only have other partners who we are also in love with, etc, etc, etc. There are a thousand ways to define things. The one trap ya wanna watch out for, which oddly happens the most with the monogamous, is when you’re at date 4 or 5 + and it feels like commitment and connection is there, so ya dont have the talk about wants and desires, and then one day around date 7 or 8 you discover your date is dating other people when you stopped. That feels like cheating and dishonesty, when in fact it was poor communication. This comes back to expectations. With dating you really need to state out loud your expectations – The Point. It’s easy to break expectations here with silent glances and wordless gasps, and these broken expectations hurt more because they were full of hope and love and pheromones that demanded you protect and procreate with this person NOW.
Oh yes. Pheromones. This is important. We all come with pheromones. We, all of us. We have pheromones that are made to attract a mate to procreate with. That is how animals work and we humans are animals. That means we may meet a person who is an utter shit bag of a human but they smell wonderful and all we want to do is fuck and protect them. That’s pheromones. One of the reasons love and dating and relationships gets so complicated is that we have this biological process literally at war with our minds and hearts. We need to know that’s happening so that when we make stupid choices, like painting red flags pink, because we want sex, that we know that’s whats happening, and can try to intervene before we find ourselves in a toxic relationship.
Painting a red flag pink is seeing a quality in someone you are fundamentally against, or is dangerous, and ignoring it. ‘He’s not racist, he just make jokes cause that’s how he was raised.’ Nope. You just painted a red racist flag pink because you want to fuck him. ‘She wasn’t being a bitch to me, that’s just how she talks.’ Nopity nope. Abusive language is real and liking a person doesn’t give them a pass to treat you like shit.
A lot of toxic relationships happen because of pheromones. On the plus side, if you dont have kids in 3 years the body tends to give up the fight with that partner and look for a new partner to have sex and procreate with. Reason people tend to break up at the 3-4 year mark? It’s this. The pheromones have stopped drugging the mind and the reality of your partner has become clear. The bodies not gettin its baby makin, so fuck it. On the plus side, if love and attraction continue past the 4ish year mark you have probably found someone and something really special.
Falling in love and making relationship agreements and emotional investments, all that shit after dating… that’s a how to make love stay, conversation. That’s much bigger with a thousand case scenario answers. Maybe I can help, and maybe I can’t. See the section on Philosophy/Ethics.
All I can say is the purpose for dating is to have fun and to find someone who doesn’t suck. The longer you date before you have sex the more likely you’ll trust the person you’re with, and thus the dating and sex and love and stuff will probably be of a better quality. The dating part serves that you’ve discovered most of a persons flags and decided whether they’re worth your time. That’s hard to do when you start with sex. With sex first you have a level of intimacy backed by unknown motivations and factors. Not a bad thing, just something to be aware of. Dating is good. Try dating. It’s of no guarantee, of course, that dating is going to make your life better or help you find what you’re looking for, but it is a nice way to pass the time.