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Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Myspace Migration: The Dating Game

So, I find myself really dating again. Not the kind of dating that I have been doing for ages - go out, have fun, no chance in hades of it advancing to anything other than someone to call and do fun things with (although, I still don't see anything wrong with that). I find myself dating with the intent of establishing a relationship.
Of course, the practical one in me wants to append that last sentence to "of sorts." Add that very casual comfort zone back into the whole thing. So, that if and when it doesn't work out, or I find out that there's been misrepresentation, it's not a big deal. But, maybe that's not as much practicality as it is self-preservation. Dating as a past-time, I get. It's about going out, having a good time, meeting new people and doing new things. That's it. That's all it has to be; there's no confusion as to "where is this going" or "when do we do [fill in the blank with whatever]." There is no "we" or "us" - it's just me. I know how to deal with me, I've been doing that for nearly 30 years. Dating as a means to finding someone with whom you would like to have ... what's the right phrase for this? ... a more meaningful, ongoing relationship with is a little bit intimidating.
Intimidating. Not exactly a "selling" word for a relationship, is it? Logically, I can even say that it makes me sound a little bit jaded. Maybe I am. However, maybe it's because I've never dated anyone with the intent of finding someone with whom I'd like to become a regular fixture in my life. Seriously. Jason and I were basically high school sweethearts (of sorts), and Beau and I were friends that just sort of fell into a relationship largely out of convenience (I believe). I've never actually had to think about whether or not someone is "boyfriend material." Throw in a couple of mis-matches in there that started the same way and you have my dating career. I've spent the majority of my adult life married. I'm not married anymore and I can't spend the rest of my life on my own because I find dating with a purpose somewhat intimidating.
The movie "The Mirror has Two Faces" is on in the background right now on some cable channel that probably has far too much estrogen in it. But, I relate to that movie, somewhat. I think when I got divorced, I told myself when I dated again, I was going to take a practical viewpoint on relationships. Chemistry, physical attraction, sparks - that wasn't going to play into it. Of course, that's not entirely realistic. How do you get to the next date if there's no connection? I still feel like basing a relationship off those things is asking for disaster. People change, chemistry fades, we get older. I guess I just figured that if I based things off personality, goals, ambition, views on family, mutual morals, and intellect, I'd be much better off. Those things last; they're real. On that note, I'm absolutely shocked by the number of men who know what they want down to the most minute detail of appearance: down to clothing sizes, even! I would never, in my wildest dreams, think of saying "I want to date a man who wears a size 34 trouser" or "I really can't see myself with anyone who's not 6'1, with dark hair and hazel eyes." That's so horrifically shallow to me; it's an odd form of prejudice, I think. I get "I don't want to date a beached whale" or "I had a horrible experience with my red-headed ex, so that's a temporary turn-off." But, to judge a soul so completely off astethics just seems wrong to me. *Shrug.
That presents a problem, though. I've met a few guys who I think are really quite interesting on all of those levels. So, when you do, how do you decide? I'm not so naive as to think that they're not dating other people, as well - and I'm so tempted just to say, "How do you choose?" But, that somehow seems taboo. And how do you know you made the right choice? I guess, you don't. Given my past recent experience with the chameleon male, there is the very legitimate concern that I'm going to invite someone into my life and realize six months or a year down the road that they're not who they claim to be ... or, maybe think they are. So many people don't really know themselves. What kind of reprocussions will that have on my life... or, my girls, should I let that person be part of the girls' lives?
So, there's my primary concern. That I'm going to decide to see one of these men on an ongoing basis and find out that they're not who they claimed to be and end up getting myself, or heaven forbid the girls, hurt. That's not a good enough reason not to do it. Does everyone struggle with this, or is it just me??? LOL I feel completely backward about this and if it weren't for Steph; I'd think maybe I were broken. But, knowing that she has had similar concerns helps quite a bit. I guess all I can say to that is thank goodness there's a "get to know you period" before you really get into a relationship. Although, that being aid, I have gone out with a guy who believed that you could really only see one person at a time to fairly determine whether or not you would want to be in a relationship with that person. I like that idea, but I was in my "dating just for fun" stage, so a relationship really wasn't in my gameplan. I get the point: the "how do you choose" factor is eliminated and there's not the question of what do you do with the other people you're going out with when you do realize "I really just want to date X and not W, Y, or Z."
Secondary concern: physical intimacy. Ok, not that I'm opposed to it; I'm most certainly not.. it just seems like we're living in a society of, well, loose morals? It's ok to jump into bed with someone that you really know practically nothing about - not even their middle name? Sex as complete and utter recreation. Well, to an extent, I do subscribe to the theory that sex is largely a recreational sport.. what I mean by that is that sex is not, and should not be equated to, love. It's an act between two people that is really quite enjoyable, and can be an outward expression of inward feelings. But, I just can't get behind the concept of having sex with every person you go out with or inviting the masses into my bedroom. Call me old-fashioned, I guess. Besides the complete breakdown of my moral code that would represent, there's the HAZMAT factor. I really, truly do not want to be one of those people that you need the yellow HAZMAT suit to touch. The mathmatics behind sexual partners and disease is somewhat staggering. Even with safe sex, that's not a guarantee.
I thought I had come up with a suitable solution to HAZMAT factor - just ask for papers. And I still think getting tested prior to being with a new partner is the responsible route. Sure, it takes some of the spontenaity out of it; but, do we really need to be completely spontaneous with that? What I mean is, surely there's some sort of build-up or sign prior to the event? A build-up? Well, I guess if you're not having sex with someone in the first few dates there is, at least. I still don't get good responses from that. I wonder if it's from their fear that they might find out something they want to know. But, I can't afford to be irresponsible on this score; it's not just my life. My life is also my girls'... I have to think of them. So, another benefit to "dating just for fun." Sex isn't even part of the equation... not an option.
I will say, too, that from the conversations I have had with men that I've had no intention of having an intimate relationship with, I'm evidentally asking for a lot to take things slowly in that arena. Most guys don't really have to wait; there's more than enough women who are willing to just give it up at the drop of a hat. I'm okay with that, though. Because, really, if they don't understand my reasoning behind that; we're not a good fit. I hope the men I date do get it, though. It's not them, or me - I like sex - I just don't want it to a:) cloud the issue of compatibility and b:) again, I just don't want to be having random sex with every guy I go out with.
Well, as good as this feels to articulate, it really didn't solve anything for me. I guess it did help make things a little less jumbled in my mind. I'm pretty clear on what I want - I just wish I had a firmer grasp on the mechanics of how you get there!

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