Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dating Controversies (from Emily)

We've touched on this subject before, in various posts you can find in the archives. Carl's post is particularly interesting, though you might also check out my early post on dating communication. So why am I going back to dating again? Well, as a friend of mine once put it - everyone has a strong opinion on dating, even people who have strong opinions on nothing else. And as I talked with a female friend from my ward (congregation) this evening and listened to her dating frustrations, I decided we were well over due for another post about dating. Nothing in particular - just some general romance-related controversies and confusions that we can hopefully hash out a little bit.

1. Gender roles. Now, obviously you'll have an entirely different approach to this question than I do if you are not a cisgendered heterosexual (cisgendered just means you accept the biological sex you were assigned at birth). But I'm writing from a rather conservative, traditional environment. I can tell you that I, for one, am constantly left feeling like I'm in a catch-22 where if I'm interested in a guy who hasn't asked me out I don't feel like I can make a move without him thinking I'm way serious and therefore getting uncomfortable. And as much as I can tell myself "just be yourself and ask him out if you want to," I've experienced way too much awkwardness that way in the past to want to do that. But gender roles go beyond who asks whom out - it relates to flirtation, indirect and direct ways to take the initiative, who pays, what behavior each person displays on a date, etc. What happens when two people have radically different expectations in that department?

2. What makes someone a player? A friend of mine once said that all men are players. When I countered that I knew men who were not players at all, she amended it to "all attractive men have a little player in them." I don't think that's fair of her, but then again maybe she defines player differently than I do. Is a player someone who cheats, or just someone who goes on casual dates with many people at once? Should holding hands and kissing all be exclusive? I know some people who make a rule of only kissing or holding hands with one person at once, even if they're not exclusive in terms of dating. But others like me don't kiss, hold hands, or cuddle outside an exclusive relationship. So what happens when someone like me goes on dates with someone who's in an open kissingship? (For lack of a better word) "Date and let date" is a great policy, but it can get messy pretty fast if we aren't all communicating.

3. Nontraditional relationships. I'm thinking about homosexual relationships here, but also plural relationships or open relationships. I don't have any thoughts on them, but if any of you do I'd love to hear them. I'm also going add cross-culture relationships to this list since a surprising number of people have very strong opinions on them. A lot of people even go so far to assume race and culture are one and the same when they discuss this, but I would ask you to clarify which you are discussing in your responses.

4. Dating Etiquette. This is obviously an issue that overlaps with the other areas, but it's an area that's up for constant debate. For instance, last Summer I talked with a friend who was entirely against men ever using the word "date" when they asked a woman out. I, on the other hand, was completely in favor of people using this word, particularly if the two people are friends who could get confused and wonder whether they're hanging out or something more. (See "Mix Tape" from Avenue Q).

Another dating etiquette question I discussed with friends recently is how much notice is necessary when a person initiates a date. And are last-minute dates ok? I suppose we all differ in these areas, but my personal thought is that when a person schedules plans ahead of time they communicate a whole lot of respect because it shows they respect your time and want to spend time with you enough to make plans in advance. A player ex-boyfriend once defended his decision to continue dating me while he was pursuing someone else by saying, "You were more available, and it took more work to make plans with her." I guess he thought I'd get over it just because he'd never succeeded in his attempts to court her? Anyway, call my antipathy toward last-minute dating unfair and biased if you please, but I maintain that making plans communicates respect.

As you can see, I don't exactly have a lot of answers to offer on these topics. I'm more interested in getting a lively discussion/ debate going. Please feel free to bring in topics I haven't mentioned.


  1. I am not totally clear on the question at issue. Or even what I might add to a lively discussion about dating. I feel that dating is simple. Dating is a social expression of a desire to get to know someone. I could, with a very easy conscience, go on a date with a man and not feel as if I were homosexual. I go on dates with women because I want to get to know individuals and not only because I am attracted to woman more than to men. I would be immature if I didn't say that the chance for physical affection is always a plus but the initial motivation is simply to understand how another person thinks and feels. I think it's simple, at least for the man. So I guess what I am trying to say is, what is the question?

  2. PS I really like the song "Mix Tape." I hope it doesn't typify the casual female mind but it is an interesting and humorous stereotype. I enjoyed your post.