It was recently brought to my attention that some people think I am little like a recent Bachelor contestant – not dating for love, just a good story. Or, if I am open to the possibility of more, then that’s just a secondary objective.
“You going on dates is all an experiment. Judging people and getting free food but no intention of being open.”
Of all the various crimes I’d considered I might be getting judged for, this one had never once crossed my mind. Firstly, I was delighted. I am always happy when people engage with the blog, even if the feedback isn’t overwhelmingly positive. Please comment below!
I was also surprised.
No one in their right mind, surely, would ever go on a date for the sake of free food. If we remove the emotional cost of a date for a second – and we shouldn’t, it’s ginormous – then we are left with the following:
· Cost of date outfit divided by amount of wears
· Cost of makeup application (my moisturiser is not cheap)
· Cost of transport to the date location
Dating is time-consuming and costly – even if a guy does pay for dinner. And in our modern sometimes-feminist society, this kind of chivalry is rare. From a guy’s perspective, I get it: If you pay for all of your date’s meals you’d go broke(ish).
I’ll be real. I like it when a guy pays. I always always offer. I will get the next round or pay for the next date. But I like it when a guy pays. It probably has something to do with my love of tall, strong physiques – I want a provider and a protector and all of those other outdated tropes that society and the media have long celebrated. I am 100% a feminist. I think people can and should be what they want. But what I want is a guy who can afford an $8 drink without flinching.
The emotional cost of a date is less tangible but worth mentioning. Remaining open to connection is exhausting. It’s like trying to tweeze that one stray eyebrow hair and missing over and over and over.
Look, I know not everybody dates for love. But a lot of people – women AND men – do want to find someone they can spend time with on an ongoing basis, who they care for and who cares for them. Seeking out that right person (and occasionally settling) and then continuing the search takes a lot of emotional energy. Every bad date makes you more reluctant to try again. I guess if I had dated completely detached, I could have avoided disappointment and just recorded the details of the evening in a blog post later. But I’m too much of a participant. My hand was always up in class. I don’t really see the point in doing something if you’re going to hang in the sidelines. For better or worse, I get involved.
Dating can be a lot of fun, can expose you to new experiences and personalities; dating has shifted my thoughts about what I want. It can also suck. I went into all my dates vulnerable and excessively hopeful.
Of course I judge the people that I have dated. I judge everyone and everything around me, constantly making assessments. Judging is human and I am pretty unapologetic about it. I’d like to be clear, though, that I see judging and criticising as separate actions. I judge everyone; I try not to criticise too readily. I endeavour to focus on the good in someone, if only because I will be spending the next thirty minutes sipping coffee across from them.
When it comes to dating, I judge quickly. I’m like a good entrepreneur in this sense, following the age-old advice: Fail fast.
And I don’t think this is a bad thing necessarily.
Thirty seconds after meeting someone, I have absorbed a lot of information about a person. Yes, I do judge books by their covers (I like pink ones). Similarly, I see physical appearance and presentation as very potent self-expression. The way someone walks, holds themselves, dresses, smells, grooms and greets me – these are all aspects of their identity that feed into my overall first impression of them. This is the difference between talking to someone on the phone and meeting up in person. Face to face, I can gauge someone’s energy and demeanour in a way that I cannot with a transmitted voice.
It is because I have been open to the potential of a date that I have been disappointed along the way. There is the disappointment when I quickly realise that this isn’t the person for me. Then secondary disappointment if the person turns out to not only be incompatible but downright unpleasant. I was nearly in tears (or was I in tears? I can’t remember) after a date, which consisted largely of condescension and a resistance to me eating dinner (don’t even ask).
Dating is putting yourself out there and asking, “Do you like me? Do I like you? No. Moving on…” Maintaining hope is a serious challenge. But the moment I stop believing there might be a future, there is no point in turning up at all.
Recently, my endless hope that I might meet someone who:
Doesn’t play videogames
Believes women are equal to men
Is into health and fitness
Does good in the world
…was realised. He is smart, he likes that I am outspoken and he has almost no social media presence (still not sure how he is supposed to follow me on Instagram without the app but don’t worry, I’ll figure it out).
There. Wasn’t just for the story. Absolutely it’s good to know that when life doesn’t go to plan, a good narrative might still arise. But I don’t need a relationship to confirm my honest intentions.
I didn’t date for the sake of a post or my friends’ entertainment or my future autobiography (coming to a Kindle near you in 2030). I dated out of interest in finding someone with whom I could watch Netflix, share my day, dance around naked with no makeup on (just kidding. Like I’d EVER do that 😉 ).
Like Nick Cummins, my dating days are over for now. Nothing has ended but I am happy.
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