Doesn’t it Depend on What I’m Looking for in a “Dating Experience”?
So many people complain about online dating — whether or not they’re actually trying to find dates online — you almost start to wonder whether the various dating apps and websites on the market are just collections of fake accounts and chatbots, fruitlessly wooing each other in an endless cycle of virtual catfishing and mutual sockpuppeting.
To hear a lot of people tell it, dating just ain’t what it used to be — especially for those who want to take things slow, which they say makes them outsiders in our “sex obsessed” modern “hookup culture.”
As a (more or less) happily married woman who tied the knot nearly 20 years ago, Calico has never tried online dating, be it on a site, an app, or by chatting up some stranger on social media. Even so, she wonders whether all the complaints, concerns and associated handwringing is really warranted.
Was our culture truly less “sex obsessed” in the good old days? Is there something deeply empowering and affirming about meeting someone in a singles’ bar? Were people truly less interested in casual sex in decades previous (including ones that had “summers of love” and the like) than they are now?
Get Calico’s take in her latest post, “Doesn’t it Depend on What I’m Looking for in a “Dating Experience”?”
– Calico Rudasill, Sssh.com Dating Tips and Porn Movies Supersite
When it comes to dating, I guess I’m a little old-fashioned, in that I’ve never used a dating app or sought romance on the internet in any way.
I’m not opposed to doing such things, it’s just that I’ve been married so long (So. Very. Damn. Long.), there was no such thing as a dating app – and only a literal handful of dating websites – back when I began the relationship which I hope will last ‘til “death do us part” and all that.
Plenty of other people have bad things to say about online dating, however. Some wonder if the “ugly truth” is that we’re “sacrificing love for convenience.” Others say online dating “lowers self-esteem and increases depression,” or that it is “eroding humanity.”
It’s not clear to me whether these same folks think that meeting people in bars is an affirming, empowering experience, or when it was, exactly, that people so valued love over convenience that they would eschew nearby dating options in favor of waiting for “The One” to…. I dunno, magically appear after they’d rubbed a lamp, or something?
‘Convenience’ has Always Been a Part of This
If you think about it, you might not be surprised to hear that once upon a time, one of the biggest contributing factors involved in people getting married seems to have been geographic proximity. After all, back in the days before commercial aviation, it wasn’t like you could just hop on a plane in New York and be united with your true love in Los Angeles a matter of hours later. (Go back far enough and there was the threat of things like broken wagon wheels involved – and who wants to deal with all that mess as part of their love life?)
Many years ago, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looked at 5,000 marriage licenses issued consecutively in Philadelphia and discovered that prior to getting married, “one-third of all the couples lived within five or less blocks of each other, and the percentage of marriages decreased steadily and markedly as the distance between residences of the contracting parties increased.”
While there was doubtlessly more to these marriages than the proposing party saying “Hey – we’re already neighbors, why not get hitched?” it’s still hard to look at that data and persuade myself to believe that back in the good old days, long before any kind of app or website was a thing, people were going out of their way to find The One. If anything, it’s lot easier for me to believe that, upon reaching dating age, a lot of these folks quickly settled for Mr. Right-Now over Mr. Right.
Is This Problem Really “Modern”?
Some folks see the problem with ‘modern’ dating as running deeper than the alleged problems associated with online dating sites and apps, expressing dismay at what is often called “hookup culture.” And it’s not just pundits, shrinks and critics who bemoan hookup culture, it’s often those who think they’re embarking on a take-it-slow and get-to-know date, only to find an immediate hookup is expected by the other half of their party.
One such disappointed fish in the dating pond recently complained to Dear Abby that while she’s “no prude,” she’s dismayed that “it seems like everyone I date, and who my friends and I talk to, and articles I see are all about sex, having sex, rushing to sex.”
“It’s like there’s no emphasis on actually getting to know a person anymore,” continues Ms. Not Connecting in Missouri. “I’d like to believe that sex is something people who are already emotionally intimate can share. But by the third date, sex is not only expected but considered ‘normal.’ When I say that it’s too soon for me, I’m not called back for another date.”
While I can understand the complaint, does Not Connecting in Missouri (who says she’s 48) truly believe things were all that different when she was younger? I’m a few years older than she is and what I remember of dating in my 20s sounds… well, not very different at all from what she described in her letter, quite frankly.
When I was a teenager, my older brother sat me down for a talk about guys. If there was one, central point he wanted me to absorb above all others, it was this: When it comes to sex, “Men are dogs.”
“Even the really nice, sensitive guy who says all the right things probably just wants to get into your pants,” he said, most likely while eating potato chips, swilling beer and facing the TV. “They’re not bad people; they’re just young dudes – and as a young dude myself, I can tell you we don’t think about much else but getting into a girl’s pants.”
While I think that was a little unfair on my brother’s part, I must say my experience over the years that followed meshed quite well with his analysis. With one or two exceptions, the guys I dated seemed a lot less interested in what I had to say than they were in unhooking my bra – something most of them struggled mightily with once I’d consented to it, quite frankly.
A Little Honesty Goes a Long Way
All that said, I rarely found myself disappointed with my own ‘dating experience,’ mostly because as it turned out, when it came to these young dudes, I was primarily interested in having sex, too. Honestly, many of these young dudes were just about useless when it came to conversation anyway, perhaps because they hadn’t lived enough to have developed anything particularly interesting to say.
What I’m getting at here, in my own painfully contorted and roundabout way, is that whether you think the experience of dating is “suffering” in our “sex-obsessed culture” probably says as much about you as it does the dating experience itself.
My advice, such as it is, is for people to be honest with their dates – and with themselves. If you’re someone who’s just in it for the sex, don’t be the kind of dick who will pretend you’re all about romance just long enough to get to the sex you seek.
Conversely, if you’re someone who wants to take it slow, be up front about that – ideally before you’re sitting across the table from someone who can’t hold a conversation and stare at your tits at the same time.
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