Dating Just to Date

My roommate and I found ourselves discussing dating for some reason tonight. It is a subject that comes up regularly, I think because nobody in this house really falls into the traditional model of dating. I was raised to believe that the purpose of dating was simply to find the “one and only” and served no purpose other than that. If you were with someone who you couldn’t see yourself with long-term (or forever) then you shouldn’t be with them… dating is a means to an end, and not an end itself. In my old age now I don’t think this is right for most people, particularly people in college and early career (or adventuring) phases.

I’ve been around the block a time or two. I’ve dated a few people, been engaged once, and had friendships to varying degrees from bang-buddies to deep non-sexual friends. Sadly, there is a lot of pressure to settle for a person if you love them, even if there are important parts of your future plans that don’t align. We are told that things will just work out, which roughly translates to one of you will give up, give in, and possibly harbor resentment. It seems there must be a better way, I believe we should encourage dating just for dating sake.

The women I have loved have wonderful lives, probably in part because we broke up. But our relationships were not failed relationships. They involved two people who had adventures and experiences together, challenged each others beliefs, and had a lot of damn fun. I learned a lot about myself during that time, and because of those lessons I am a better partner now to my current lover. Dating should be a way to explore how you handle emotions, intellectual stimulation, new sexual experiences, and explore new cultures and environments. Maybe you find someone you can do that forever with, but more likely than not most of your relationships will end, but again, that doesn’t mean they are failures.

There are so many people in this world. There is no reason to settle quickly when your long-term goals don’t quite match up. If you want kids and your partner doesn’t it is better to enjoy the dating and end it when it is time to move on instead of abandoning the things that are important to you. Whether it is marriage itself, children, or your lifestyle choices you can find someone that matches up… and the search is a lot of fun.

If I could go back and talk to my past self I would encourage younger Peter to enjoy dating more, stop looking for “the one and only”, and look at each relationship as a success if you learned something from it or had great memories. There is no rush to lifelong partnership, in fact, it is all a journey… something to be enjoyed and experienced as fully as possible. And even if the person you are dating is a perfect match there is no rush to marry because there is a lot of life ahead of you. You can marry at 30 and still have plenty of kids or whatever else you want. Don’t rush younger Peter, enjoy the ride.

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Dating (Polyamorous and Otherwise)

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I really kind of suck at dating… and being geared towards poly life adds extra complications. This isn’t to say that I am unhappy with my current partners but I do enjoy meeting new people, going on dates, and just exploring the dynamic connection that happens between people. Unfortunately, as a male the responsibility for initiating dates (and any contact really) tends to fall on me and I am awful at reading signals.

In my experience there are really only three places I’ve found there are three options for finding dates: Online, friends, and serendipitous encounters. OkCupid is my dating site of choice because of the strong poly presence and their awesome algorithms that freaking fascinate me. I’m having a mind orgasm just thinking about getting my hand on their data. Anyway, despite the fairly vocal poly presence on OkCupid I still face the problem of initiating contact. My focus for this New Year is very much about building a community here in LA so I am going to try and be a little more proactive online. And really, who wouldn’t want to know me? I’m awesome…

Friends are always a good place to meet new partners and friends but it is important to tread lightly. If a relationship goes poorly you bring non-romantic members of your social circle into a volatile situation. While there is great information in The Ethical Slut about dealing with this type of circumstance it is never easy and rarely goes smoothly. Add the dynamic of being polyamorous I am either faced with asking someone who is in a relationship that I suspect is open/poly or becoming interested in a single person and needing to explain that I am not exclusive. It just lends itself to problems and my passive nature comes out full, even if I feel a strong connection with someone I won’t act directly on it unless I’ve gathered information from other sources.

Lastly, we have the serendipitous meetings… running into someone you like in a bookstore, on the metro, or at a bar/club. I’m sure more has been said about this elsewhere so I won’t harp on it, I don’t think the chance of running into a new love interest very likely in the general public. Plus, I can’t read flirting worth a damn (just recently learned that a cute girl complimenting my eyes or casually touching my arm may be flirting and I should probably ask her to coffee or something). I’m not in any way complaining about the way I operate, it is just who I am and I am so incredibly happy being me, these are just observations.

Anyway… dating kind of sucks. I wish there was some sort of more explicit way to display interest and availability. I’ve never been into games at all and would seriously respond to “hey, you’re cute, wanna talk and maybe make out?” or “Hey, we would look good naked together ” over small talk, difficult signs, flirting, and wasted time wondering what the other person is thinking. It would just be much more simple, I guess some enjoy the chase but that isn’t me, I’d rather get to the love.

Fear of Success (or how I run away from girls at bars)

I’ve talked in the past about my introverted nature and how I often wait for women to make a pretty explicit move on me, but an event last night had me thinking that there is more to it than that. While at the bar with a group of friends random guy came up to me and said, “Hey, my female friend is really into you, would you like to meet her?” I said yes and asked where she was, I was hoping to get a look before talking to her so that I could prep myself. I’m not really good on the spot and the holy trinity of gin, vodka, and PBR was working its magic on my system.

He said he had to grab a drink and would be back in a second to take me over to her. After he left my sight I did what I usually do when I am approached or hit on in a bar, I ran away. I got up and moved across the bar to chat with some other friends with the intent of avoiding that guy and any situation that could develop. For some reason my knee-jerk reaction was to avoid any discomfort I may cause her even when I had pretty solid proof she was attracted to me, and my retreat likely caused her the discomfort I wanted to avoid.

As I look back at all of my past relationships and partners 86% were someone I met through a friend and only 1 was a result of a barroom style pickup (and yes, she approached me). I’m undecided on how to moves forward, I really don’t know if this is something I should accept about myself or should try to change. I feel like I’m missing a lot of opportunities to meet great people. As I think about it I realize this type of behavior is prevalent in my interactions with people on OKCupid as well, despite the friendly poly and open community there.

Oh well, just something I need to think about.