What is dating? Why do people date? How does one date? This week’s column was inspired by a conversation that I had on Saturday with a straight male friend. He’s recently divorced and is ready to get back into the dating game. He got married in his early twenties to his high school sweetheart with whom he reunited after a few years break during which he dated a few other women. His entire dating history includes approximately six women with whom he had varying lengths of relationships. He stated that he doesn’t know how to date, and my response was, “Well, who does?”

He assumes that because he only ever went on dates with a handful of women and that it doesn’t include any “casual dating” that he doesn’t know how to date. He also assumes that because I have eighteen years of dating under my belt, which includes not only three long-term relationships, but also a seemingly endless number of casual dates, that I have some knowledge about the dating game that he cannot have. I say “bullsh*t!
Who does know how to date? No one! No one knows. Why do you think there are thousands of new books written about the subject every year?? If humans knew how to date, it wouldn’t be the subject of talk shows, workshops, books, websites, hell, there might not even be a Baggage Reclaim! People don’t read or write about subjects that people understand. There aren’t endless books written about inserting tampons, tying shoes or screwing in light bulbs. People know how to do these things.
Why do people date? I like to break dating into two main categories. The first and most obvious reason is to find someone with whom to enter into a relationship. The second is to have a romantic outing with someone else in order to get something. That something can be anything from sex to free dinners to a pleasant diversion. I call the latter “dating as sport” and it’s more commonly referred to as “casual dating.” This latter can be endlessly broken up into sub-categories, but I’ll just keep it simple today.

If we take the first category into consideration, and assume that a relationship is the ultimate goal, then it’s my friend who must be considered successful. He must have been making all the right moves and saying all the right things. After all, dating one of the six women ended in marriage, the holy grail of relationships. (That the marriage ended has nothing to do with his dating ability because maintaining a successful relationship is a whole other subject that confuses humans.) So, if the reason for dating is to enter into a relationship, it’s only logical that the less dates it takes to enter into a relationship, the better. However, if dating as a sport is more your cup of tea, then it seems that I would be more knowledgeable. I’ve dated, well, erm, I have no idea how many men I’ve been out with. But it’s been a lot. A LOT. A lot of fun times, a lot of dinners, a lot of sex, but I still feel as if I have no idea what I’m doing. I still experience a lot of the awkwardness and ickiness that is seemingly inherent in the dating process.
So much is made of dating. So much drama centres around it. Should I call? Should they call? Will they call? How long should I wait to call? Should we have sex? Should we wait to have sex? What should I wear? What will they wear? Should we go to a movie? Jaysus. It’s exhausting. If you really think about it, it’s completely ridiculous. Shouldn’t pairing be easier than this? It’s all the guessing games that people play. Obviously human instincts do not extend to the social aspect of pairing. We’ve got the hormone thing down, but apparently Mother Nature hasn’t given us the ability to read minds. Which brings me to my next point,
Motivation. What is your date’s motivation? If we can figure this out, then we can have a more pleasant and successful dating experience whether we’re looking for a relationship or a night of casual sex. Unfortunately, a lot of people out there in the dating world have hidden agendas or are pathological liars or are crazy or are not sure what they really want. Considering this, I believe the key to successful dating is not so much in the actual act of dating, but in the choice of dating partners. Try to ascertain what your date is looking for. If you date because you’re looking for a potential mate, do your best to find other people who are at the same stage in their lives. If you’re looking for a night of dinner, dancing and wild sex, then make sure that’s what your date also wants.
See, very simple. Heh—OK, so it isn’t that easy. But you can’t argue with the logic!
I may be a closet romantic and optimist (I’d really hate for that to get out), but I do believe that there are people out there who compliment each of us and that when we meet them and date them, there is none of the awkwardness that is so prevalent in dating situations. There is no agonizing about phone calls or when to have sex or where to go or what to say. Everything just falls into place. So, until that person appears for each of us, I guess we’ll all just have to keep buying the latest and greatest book on dating, checking out the trendiest dating workshops, and most importantly, to keep reading Baggage Reclaim for dating tips and advice!

About the author: After receiving a nice, wholesome upbringing in a typical Midwestern town of the US, this intelligent, witty, and frequently snarky chick, craving adventure, managed to receive her first real-world instruction on the streets of Paris. After that eye opening and somewhat harrowing experience, on a whim, she moved to The Big Apple where she was permanently corrupted. She’s an armchair psychologist and enjoys analyzing herself and others, while maintaining a deep appreciation for the ironies of life.Visit New York Moments Blog

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