My friend sent me an article recently that I’ve been processing and hating and loving since.
It’s about dating. Or, rather, the death of tradition and where the fault lies. The article throws around some broad statements as to who should be saddled with the blame for the fact that no one in our generation really knows what the hell is going on.
But, really, did we ever?
Truthfully, the only time we’ve ever been honest about our feelings was before hormones and too-mature-for-our-age television warped our bodies and minds into what we are today. That sounded super dramatic, but I stand by it.
Between the ages of about 5-11, we had “dating” figured out. There were no strings attached. You liked someone – you told them. Well, you told your best friend who helped you write the absolute perfect note giving the other person just two, simple options, and then you both agonized over what was the appropriate amount of stickers (but of course you used your Lisa Frank ones because this person was special), and then it was passed between no less than two messengers before reaching its final destination.
And then you waited…
For about an hour when you would see your beloved on the playground. And you would get your answer. Either he/she would ask you to play Power Rangers or they wouldn’t. And it didn’t matter if they said no because you never really liked them in the first place.
And then junior high rolled around and hormones and “feelings” just screwed everything up. Everything was complicated because your body liked EVERYONE but your heart and mind liked NO ONE, including yourself. And all you want is to kiss someone but you’re having a fat day (or fat YEAR) and all of this metal in your mouth poses a problem. And also you’re a little unsure of all the strange, alien-type things happening to your body and you still haven’t quite figured out deodorant.
High school was all about falling in love. But, of course, with the wrong people so that you could publicly fight and be just like Noah and Allie. Because that’s what love is. And a “date” is… well, you don’t know.
College is about hooking up. Plain and simple. And then someone falls in love and gets married which is cool until everyone starts doing it. And then you’re the “single friend” and even your parents start giving you these weird pity looks.
And then you become an adult and you still don’t know what dating or a relationship is. But if it interrupts “Downton Abbey,” you want no part of it. Plus, you’re just really tired, like, ALL THE TIME.
See, we’ve never known because no one has ever taught us. The art of dating and courting has been in steady decline for decades, and generations before us were just as confused as us. Our problem is that we don’t even know what LOVE is. Romantic comedies and romance novels have completely taken reality out of this concept and sucked us into a fantasy world.
And, we’re just different. Women are more passionate about equality and less and less of us are pledging our lives to the pursuit of achieving the perfect pot roast. Women are finding purpose in their careers more than in the roles of wife and mother. The more we evolve as a gender, the more our approach to dating and our expectations for men are going to change.
But we’re not the only ones evolving.
There was a time when males went through two stages – boy and man. Now, they are progressing through an additional stage. In between boy and man, they’ve squeezed in “guy.” In that time, we are expected to let them roam free. Sow their wild oats. Find out what they like so that they can know what the love.
If guys are doing it, why can’t we?
So women joined the club, and the boys didn’t like it.
Which brings us back to square one where genders are at war over who is really to blame for the divorce rate and lack of well-adjusted romantic lives. The truth is, no one is at fault. We’re a product of an evolving society.
But we don’t have to fall victim to it.
Instead of trying to answer the questions of “why are all men pigs?” and “what do women really want?” We should be asking ourselves instead how each of us can be part of the solution. How can I approach dating in a healthy way? Should I even be dating? Do I love and respect myself enough to ask someone else to? What are my standards and expectations? Do I like this person, or am I just lonely?
And above all, how can I be respectful?
Also, we’ve sucked the fun right out of dating. We’re too obsessed with making it work than just relaxing and being ourselves. In an era where gender lines are blurred, broken, and almost non-existent, we can’t approach dating the same way our grandparents did.
He’s not going to show up with flowers. She’s not going to greet you at the door wearing an apron and pearls. We’re busy people. We’re motivated, passionate people.
Dating will have to evolve to meet that, and we can help it along by letting go of archaic rituals and traditions that tie us to a time and era that we don’t belong to. We have the advantage and opportunity to redefine dating.
And my definition? Nothing involving camo or Crocs.