Girl Talk: Dating is for Lovers

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Last week, two people sent me links to this article that discusses dating in the 20 something crowd. Apparently, dating has become more of a very casual encounter consisting of a text invite and a casual night hanging out with a group of people. The article begs to ask the question, “Is traditional dating dead?”

I posted the article on my wall and asked for comments. A multi-generational discussion ensued where the women pretty much said they liked traditional dating, and the one guy that posted said he liked the new way of thinking. In the article, they interviewed a woman who wanted to keep the traditional way of dating, and she just doesn’t accept anything less. It made me wonder if dating style is more driven by the desires of women rather than what men want. In my experience with dating in the last few years, I’ve been very disappointed in the laissez faire approach that involves texting to ask me out and texting to get to know me better. At first, I rebelled against it, and I remember telling one guy that I preferred to be asked out over the phone. He called me immediately for said date. But, I’ve loosened my standards because it just seems too hard to fight the downhill avalanche of dating protocol.

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In my 20s, and in college, I didn’t date much. I remember it being a hookup culture back then, but maybe that was just my experience. We’d go out to bars where we thought our “targets” would be hanging out, and hope for the best. The best might be dancing with the guy or getting picked up. The next morning we’d all share who we “got with.” Most of us had some “regulars” that we ended up with a lot. So, dating in my circle wasn’t very traditional. After I got out of college, that changed, but I got married pretty quick. I don’t remember going to fancy places, though. I dated a sportswriter and a high school football coach. They were both poor. But, they did take me out to dinner.

I’ve reconnected with some of my “college regulars” over Facebook the last few years, and we joke about our hookups back then. They usually tell me they had the biggest crush on me. I always ask, “So why didn’t you ever ask me out on a proper date?” They always follow that up with, “I wish I had.” One of them said he’s thought about it over the years and could kick himself for not doing it. I don’t really think they are saying they wished they’d asked me out in particular. I think what they are telling me is they wish they had not taken such a casual approach to dating. Most of them are divorced or unhappy in their marriages at this point. They, like me, I believe are saying that if I had really taken time to get to know the opposite sex when they were young and there were plenty of them around, then maybe I would have made better choices. Just dating for sex and fun is one thing, but in order to find a mate, you have to be more discerning.

I will say that I didn’t know how to discern if someone was a good match until my late 40s, so even if I did date more, I don’t know that I would have made better choices. I didn’t know what I was looking for until I realized what I didn’t want. But, I know that I knew NOTHING about the people I hooked up with in college except they were cute. So, I suspect the 20 something generation that is using these group hangouts and non-dates for hookups have the same lack of information about their partners. And, my sister-in-law sent me another article saying that this generation is largely becoming dissatisfied with this hookup culture. I would imagine so. We are designed to be connected, and it’s not very connecting except on a sexual basis.

The best date I’ve ever had was with my second husband. It was our fourth date, and he had already decided (in his words) “I was somebody special.” We lived in different cities, and we always met at restaurants in between us on the Red Arrow Highway. He wanted to take me to his favorite restaurant. When I drove up, he came over to the car and handed me 4 yellow roses. He already knew they were my favorite. He said, “Do you know why I gave you 4? ………Because this is our 4th date.” I remember that moment like it was yesterday, and it was ten years ago. Time and my heart literally stopped, and I paid attention to this man. It was the turning point in our relationship that made me consider him as a mate. I felt like the most special woman on earth, and that he was freaking awesome! The restaurant wasn’t fancy, but it was fun. They had a garden out back that featured a man dressed up as a tree. He kept moving all over the place, and it was really funny to watch. My ex knew the people who owned it, and I got to see him talk to his friends. He made me laugh, and he touched my heart with his little gift. And, it made him happy to see me smile. It was a win-win situation, and I saw him differently after that date.

That’s why I think dating is important. I’ve had more arguments and hurt feelings over text than I care to count. You can’t read any emotion from words on a screen. But, when two people of the opposite sex are face to face and making time for each other, magic happens.  How special would I have felt if he had texted me and said, “wassup? Meet me at Charlie’s. 7 PM”.  Hmmm….who knows if we’d made it to the fifth date. My friend Cristal said it was the memories of her courtship with her husband Charlie that she treasures. They were magical for her and the fertile ground where their relationship grew. I concur. Dates don’t have to be expensive. They just have to provide an atmosphere where two people can be their best and show their potential. There is plenty of time to get to know the dark side of people. After both of my divorces, I have heard myself say, “I just hated the person I was when I was with them.” If you put your heart and soul into a special date, you will love the person you are at that moment.  And, that memory NEVER fades……. no matter how the fairy tale ends. Remember, the date is for YOU….and that’s never a waste of money or time.

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