Jennifer Dziura writes life coaching advice weekly here on TheGloss, and career coaching advice Fridays on TheGrindstone.
Apparently, dating is dead. Except that I’ve been on hundreds of dates, and so have many of you.
It’s kind of like saying that sushi is dead. I mean, a lot of people don’t eat sushi. But you can still totally get some if you want.
Last week, I wrote Bullish Life: Hanging Out With People In Real Life Is Now Like Herding Cats. Cats That Suck. The in-person meetup is not what it used to be.
And a couple of weeks ago, Bullish Life: When Guys Just Want to Be Friends, I talked about meeting Rebecca Wiegand of WTF is Up With My Love Life? and being horrified at the post-dating world she described (one in which spineless man-boys send you late-night texts and you’re supposed to be grateful for the attention!)
I’ve since followed up with Rebecca and Jessica Massa, author of The Gaggle: How to Find Love in a Post-Dating World, both of whom tell me that my categorization of the post-dating world is unfair. Let’s get right into it.
Rebecca and Jessica, you conducted a funeral for dating. So, you pretty much think it’s dead. But dead for who? Everyone under 30? Urban people under 30? Urban, college-educated people under 30?
Dating is dead for anyone who is trying to find love these days. Whether you’re 18 or 29 or 55, you may go on dates from time to time, but that is now just one very small piece of the puzzle that makes up your love life. So if you’re thinking of your love life only in terms of traditional dating, then you’re shutting your brain and emotions off from the multitude of ambiguous-but-still-exciting romantic possibilities that are actually surrounding you in this post-dating world at all times every day.
Maybe you have a date on Friday night. Great! But we ask, what are you doing the other six days and nights of the week? You’re probably non-dating. And once you stop stressing over dating and start opening your eyes to the post-dating world, you realize that those non-dates are just as rife with romantic possibility as that Friday night “date” is.
People are connecting and failing in love via an extraordinary variety of unexpected and untraditional means these days, all over the country, in every age group.
Okay, so, if dating is kaput, what are people doing instead? What are these “untraditional means”? I’m imagining Harold and Kumar texting you at 10:30pm asking if you want to “hang out,” which at best means an offer of weed in exchange for sex. I think you should ignore those offers (unless you like weed and no-strings-attached sex, in which case, no judgments!) Are you trying to tell me that there are men who don’t want to go on dates (even if you split the expenses) who are actually worth spending time with, or is this as bad as it sounds?
Yes! Absolutely. We as women have to stop judging the quality of men based on whether they’ve asked us on a nice, Rules-approved date or not. In fact, we’ve had the nicest, most wonderful guys tell us that the guy who asks you on the perfect date and wines and dines you like a pro is probably the last guy you actually want to be dating – because, well, he’s a pro.
(Jen here: Okay, I see your point – a guy who’s really, really smooth at dating could be someone to avoid. Or he could just be someone who practices things and improves at them, which I recommend!)
Often that funny guy on your soccer team, or that supportive co-worker, or that friend-of-a-friend who keeps commenting on your Facebook status is at least as good a catch, and at least as “into you,” as that guy who is super forward with his traditional date offers.
Instead of dating, women and men are now exploring the promising connections in their lives by ambiguously cultivating their own gaggle of romantic prospects, crushes and ego boosting entanglements. And yes, guys are living in this same confusing post-dating morass as we girls are, and are experimenting with how to approach and connect with the many types of women who are coming into their lives. When a guy meets a girl who he thinks is out of his league, or forms a solid friendship with the cute girl in his office, or bumps into his old college pal and realizes that she’s gotten really hot, he now has the option of avoiding rejection and testing the waters in any number of ambiguous ways. He might Facebook friend request her, or text her on a Saturday night to see if their groups of friends want to meet up, or send her long, thoughtful emails to establish some common ground. Girls have to realize that these overtures are just as legitimate as dates. Modern men are still great. They’re just a little confused by us modern ladies and are avoiding outright rejection whenever they see that opportunity.
FYI, Harold & Kumar sound like the Super Horny Guys in your gaggle. We recommend NOT hooking up with them – but we think you should enjoy their company and appreciate the fact that they are men who find you attractive!
Ah, here’s a nice place for a link to Bullish Life: Let’s Just All Agree on Some Basic Principles of Sexual Ethics.