So dating died (apparently a while ago) and nobody had the good sense to tell me. The signs have been there, the evidence plenty. But it took a long holiday weekend rife with boredom to make me realize how little I knew.
I thought the steps to a relationship were still pretty standard. Boy asks a girl for a number. He waits a period of time before asking her out on a date. After drinks or coffee, boy tells the girl he’d like to see her again and they go for dinner and movie. That’s the second date. The third date…well fuck if I know because I haven’t one in years. As I understood it that third date is the serious one.
In the interest of full disclosure, I loathe traditional dating. It feels too much like a job interview, something I’d probably rather do because it feels like it serves a purpose. It’s not that I think I’m bad at the traditional date; I’m not even sure I’ve been on a bad one. But there’s just something very, “OK, what are we even doing here” about spending an hour talking bullshit over a cup of french roast. If it were up to me, something like that would come long after she’s spent the night and left a toothbrush at my place.
So it was with a bit of awe and a whole lot of delight to learn that the rest of the world shared similar sentiments. No, really. It’s true. I read it on the internet.
Googling “Is Dating Dead” will bring up a seemingly endless amount of data to support the notion that, yes, it is. From the time students enter college to into their late 20s and even 30s, dating is out and “hanging out” is in.
From a USA Today article on the subject, this was particularly interesting to me.
“For the majority of students, they’re not going to dinner and a movie unless they’ve hooked up with someone. Some physical interaction comes before the dating,” he says. Often, “dates happen after a relationship, rather than before.”
It’s easy to say that this is a college thing and dismiss it. But think of the people you’re trying to date. How many years removed are they from this time in their lives? What if this is all they know of the modern relationship?
This isn’t confined to people in college. It was the same story when I was in my mid 20s. My friends and I would meet people, there would be a hookup or a series of hookups, eventually we would be comfortable enough around them to actually go on a date.
From an odd source, yea. But I think they hit the nail on the head here.
As dates become fewer and more elaborate, this seems to create an expectation that a date implies seriousness or continuing commitment. That expectation discourages dating even more. Gone is the clumsy and inexpensive phone call your parents and grandparents and I used to make. That call went something like this: “What’re ya doin’ tonight? How about a movie?” Or, “How about taking a walk downtown?”
Think about that for a moment. What if a simple date is being taken as a sign of serious commitment? I thought a first or second date was something you do for the hell of it. What if it’s instead seen as, “Oh. This guy really likes me.” Who the hell wants someone thinking that so early on?
But it seems anymore that dating has taken on a new term—hanging out. Hanging out seems so casual, involves less commitment, less wow factor, and comes with less expectations. My office mate here at Kiss, who shall remain anonymous, is 25 and when I ask him what he’s doing this weekend his response is, “hanging out with fill in the blank”. Hanging out like you are taking her on a date? Nope just hanging out…
What happened to the old days when a guy would call you or ask you face to face to go to dinner and he’ll pick you up at 7? Instead it seems like people are either looking just for a hookup or just to “hang out”. Things are seldom planned anymore. It’s like hey I’m bored, wanna come over?
Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date.
Last week I was having lunch with a girl friend and we somehow ended up on the topic of romance and the current dating scene. By the end of lunch, we reached the conclusion that romance is pretty much dead. I was devastated at the thought, but I think we’re right.
If romance is dead, what comes next? I really don’t know, but it’s looking like the routine is to have sex and then hope that there is some emotional connection afterwards. This pattern is not true for everyone, of course, but it is becoming more prevalent among the women I’m talking with these days.
A 27 year old woman lays it out in the Huff Post why “Everything You Believe About Dating is Wrong“.
Long story short: dating is dead. Oh sure, we all end up on a date every once in a while. But traditional dating is no longer the primary path to love.
I love the weekly NY Mag Sex Diaries.
3:30 a.m. I text Mike … that I had a good time and would really like to hang out. Ten minutes later he texts me back saying the he would “be down” for hanging out and that we should do it on a weeknight when things aren’t crazy with the parties. I text him back saying he is confusing. He asks how. I felt daring and told him because I can never tell what he want from me. I haven’t heard from him since.
The Diaries are filled with these kinds of casualties and near misses. (“I love this man,” thinks one Diarist mid-coitus. “Mental anxiety attack when I realize I almost said this out loud.”) The commenters have no sympathy for these emotional miscalculations. This, by contrast, from one of the most well-received Diaries (“The TV Producer Who Knows Everyone”) that ever ran:
3 p.m. Already received two texts and countless Facebook IM’s from the Brit. Am slowly starting to realize I have a Stage Five Clinger on my hands. He asks me to hang out again this coming Sunday. I do not respond.
Notice a theme there?
Dr. Bonnie Eaker Weil, PhD author of the NY Times Reader’s Choice Award for Best Dating Book 2010 Make Up Don’t Break Up expresses concern over the trend that young singles are dating less and hooking up more for sex before they even go on a first date. “This trend results in women lowering standards, and singles are not learning how to get a relationship started.”
Alright, enough of the references. If this thing reads like a college term paper, what with all the sources, it’s only because I’m legitimately excited. The reasons are obvious, namely that they explain away the last two or three years of my life. The women I’ve been involved with (if you can call it that) range from ages 22 to 27. They’re exactly the demographic the articles above reference. Hell I’m in that demographic, but them more-so. When Jess (the bartender who bungled things with) asked me out, she didn’t say “Hey would you like to go to a movie some night?” She said, “So when are you and I gonna get together for some beers?” It doesn’t get a whole lot more casual than that. When I did try and make up for blowing it I got her number. But instead of asking her to hang out, I asked if she wanted to get dinner. I’m still waiting for that first date.
Things with Lindsay stalled after a second date. She was more than willing to get drunk and stay over at my place, but dinner and a movie was out.
I actually managed to get two dates with a girl named Rachel. There wouldn’t be a third. She told me that she wasn’t really thinking about a relationship at this point in her life but we should definitely hang out sometime. I took it to mean that we wouldn’t be seeing each other again and stopped communicating. But hell, what if she really did mean she wanted to hang out in the sense that it means from the above links? I doubt it, but at the moment I’m questioning everything I thought I knew.
This brings me to the girl I asked out a few weeks ago. When I got her number and asked if she wanted to get together, she seemed legitimately into the idea. I called her on the phone, asked her out to dinner. I didn’t get the sense she was overly into it. When I followed up on the weekend with the text asking her when I could take her out, I probably only further confirmed with her that I was trapped in a time she wasn’t used to. Date? Who the hell does that?
Even movies and TV are pushing this revolution. The best rom-com of the year involves little dating, more hooking up, less emotion.
I’m a mission to test this theory. I still talk with the girl in question from the last few weeks regularly, though I stopped chasing because I assumed her level of interest in me was non-existent. I’m going to find out if that’s the case, or if she simply wasn’t into dating. At some point I’m gonna ask her, “So, wanna hang out tonight?”