What is it about dating, exactly?

I find that one framework that works for virtually everything in life is that everything comes in threes. Tonight, I will speak on two groups of threes. First, more broadly, the nature of relationships. On being basic (that is, monogamous, essentially), one’s relationship status has three stages: single, dating, and in a relationship. As I found in college, it’s quite possible to skip that middle one. You somehow meet someone in a completely nonthreatening setting, hit it off, and then slide into the relationship part in a nearly imperceptible change of the paradigm. It’s almost like you have a friend…and then you kiss her…and then you sleep with her. In college it’s easy, you can walk down the block and see someone, and those who you are likely to meet you are also likely to see all the time. And there are parties. Woo parties.

In real life, you need some sort of construct to help you meet potential partners, and that’s where this concept of “dating” comes in. Once you do start dating broadly, there are once again three stages: the platonic “get to know you better” stage at one end, the “time to define the relationship because you totally left your toothbrush at my place last time” stage at the other, and the “oh fuck, wait, what the hell am I supposed to do?” middle.

As a brief departure, now’s an admission that, despite seeming so damn sure of myself in many settings, I was quite the awkward kid pretty much until after high school. College was a serious fast-track for social skills, though as I’m now discovering out in the real world, key tidbits may have been left behind. Dating is definitely one of them. The process is intended so that you are comfortable enough with someone to make some sort of advance on them, and transition into a more committed stage where the two of you begin sharing more time and other things together. This does all mean that at some point, someone needs to make a move.

To a degree, I’m ranting. It doesn’t really matter, and though I could complain about the gender discrepancy about who’s taking the initiative, I won’t. It comes down to the fact that, I’ve found something I absolutely suck at. And like most things that are important in life (sadly, yes, this is important in life), getting better is hard.

In short, I am once again trapped at the “oh fuck, wait, what the hell am I supposed to do?” stage. I have occasionally moved into the “oh wait, that’s what I was supposed to do…dammit” stage as well. I will come back and give an update once I’ve learned some more social skills.



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