Why the prevalence of dating in the US?

Gore Vidal summed it up for me when he said that the easier it is to find physical intimacy becomes, the more difficult the search for emotional intimacy. Since Vidal had had hundreds of sexual contacts; mostly with other men with no regrets whatsoever, it’s credible that he’d said that not for the purpose of slut-shaming or any devotion to the Old Testament, but because it makes sense.

But young people will always do what they want with whatever rationalization and righteousness, with no real harm if prophylaxis is employed. And old men like Gore Vidal and myself are summed up as follows:

Old men delight in giving good advice as a consolation for the fact that they can no longer provide bad examples

  • François de La Rochefoucauld

While I’m definitely no authority or anything, all of my dating has been before I ever went to a brothel. My observations about others here in the Netherlands have all been about guys who don’t go to brothels. As you point out in the bit below, I’ve probably gotten a very skewed picture of dating in the US from all the TV shows and movies.

The strange thing is that for some reason even short hook ups are pretty uncommon here in the Netherlands (if you r=have a definition that includes sex). If I look at my direct environment (not just friends, but also work, siblings, etc.) I think everyone has had more 1 year plus relationships than 1 year min relationships (including one night stands). I’ve often heard non-dutch people say how strange they think it is that so many college kids are in a monogamous relationship (that often started somewhere in highschool).

Maybe things are changing with the internet, but I actually don’t know anyone who has done the internetdating thing.

I’m saving that quote for future use.

Wow! So a girl who doesn’t want to jump directly into exclusive relationships is surely a materialistic gold digger, or a manipulative temptress, or just faking “liberation”? What if I simply would like to take my time and get to know a guy before we get serious? Or if I really like sex with different partners? What if I happen to enjoy spending time with different people, and see no reason to rush into a relationship when I’m having plenty of fun right now. If I’m having sex with one guy, do I owe all interested parties equal access?

I don’t know about the whole “money” or “safe” thing, but the first part is kind of the point. A guy who is only enduring the “crappy relationshippy stuff” because of the promise of sex isn’t a great long term prospect, is he? This isn’t about making a guy jump through hoops, it’s about seeing what is actually there beyond “I’d like to bang you.”

I find that I tend to rush the sexual aspect of a relationship, and given my way every date after the second becomes “Hey, let’s skip the dinner and go to my place. I’ll order a pizza or something.” This is fun for a bit, but I find it sort of short circuits the development of the rest of the relationship and it stays immature and “stuck,” eventually getting boring. Since that dysfunctional relationship is your only source of guaranteed sex, you stick with it, and by then you are emotionally committed to something you’ve never let mature emotionally and it opens the door for drama and all kinds of unpleasantness.

So I’m trying something new- letting relationships develop slowly and naturally across the spectrum, so that when I commit I’m committing because I think it’s a relationship with a future, not because I really hate spending Friday nights with a vibrator. As it is, there is sex going, on, too. It’s just not our only form of interaction because I’m not counting on one weekend night as my one-time-chance of getting action that week. Presumably if the relationship got closer, we’d see each other a bit more and could better balance sex and “crappy relationshippy stuff” without outside support.

One easy way not to get “strung along like a chump” is to say “We’ve seen each other a few times, and I have to confess I’m really starting to fall for you. I’d like to spend more time with you. Where do you see this relationship going? Would an exclusive monogamous relationship appeal to you, because that’s starting to sound really good to me.” When you really like a girl, you make an effort to hold on to her. You make an effort to create a commitment rather than relying on some hazy non-agreement that ultimately means nothing. I dont need your hazy non-commitment, give me something real or it’s not there. Of course, I could always bring up the “hey, let’s be exclusive” thing first, and I absolutely would if I were really in to the guy. As it is, we are still getting to know each other and I’m not in a rush.

That only works if you aren’t banging some other guy on the side. You can’t be invested in a serious relationship with someone while having casual relationships on the side IMHO.

I think it has more to do with the types of guys you date as opposed to setting various relationship milestones or benchmarks. It’s kind of like a guy having lots of one night stands with drunk girls he meets in bars at 3 am wondering why he only seems to meet the sort of girls who would get drunk and bang some guy in a bar at 3am.

I’m certainly not invested in a serious relationship. That’s the whole point. We’ve gone to dinner a few times. The moment a serious relationship is formed, I’d immediately stop seeing anyone else.

But for now, I’m not in a hurry to start that serious relationship. I’m just getting to know the guy. The potential may be there- I don’t know, I’ve seen the guy three times in my life. I’m not going to center my dating life or sexuality around a guy I don’t even know. There may be a time for that, but for now I’m just going to see how things turn out.

So, let me know if I understand your position correctly:

You are not talking about completely avoiding sex with The Serious Prospect (TSP), just not having sex with TSP every date, correct? So this would mean having sex with TSP sometimes.

The reason you don’t want to have sex with TSP everytime is because you think having sex with TSP everytime (as opposed to sometimes) will ruin potential for a relationship, correct?

Why does getting to sex quickly short circuit the development of the rest of the relationship, leaving it immature?

I will admit to some but quite little dating experience but I cannot really see why having sex quickly would short circuit the development of the rest of the relationship if there was potential for it. If A and B are not mutually exclusive and I want both A and B, getting A quickly shouldn’t reduce my desire for B.

If I was your serious prospect and found out you had been banging away on some other guy while keeping me on hold, you would get dropped like a hot rock, especially if you made noises to the effect of “taking it slow”. If you are getting your thrills elsewhere you are not being serious with the serious prospect.

If you really liked a guy and were willing to make a few sacrifices to spend time with him how would you feel to find out he is dropping you off after dinner and going to hook up with Girl B for the rest of the night?

Naw, nothing that complicated or systematic. Hell, this is something I’m making up on the fly with guys I’ve known for a couple weeks. As much as anything else, it stems from “Hey, that is fascinating…let’s stay and get dessert and hear what he has to say” and “Hmmm. That’s really a unique take on beer pong regulations. Why don’t we just get this to go and head to my place.” I don’t have some kind of sex schedule or timeline or anything weird like that. Nor is this guy some kind of project I’m working on- he’s just someone i’d like to know better and would rather not screw things up with immediately.

I do believe that in the early stages of a relationship, before trust and respect and all that is built you will be treated exactly as well as you let yourself be treated. There is a natural drive to feel out the limits of a relationship and stay at the lowest one.

If you are eager and happy to accept a last-minute date, then why bother making plans with you ahead of time? You instantly become that backup girl who you can call if you don’t have any other plans. If you accept a booty call…well, who doesn’t love a booty call? You’ve now just made yourself a booty call, and like the dreaded “friend zone,” the booty call zone is almost impossible to get out of. If you say “Eh, let’s skip the nice dinner and just head home,” you can bet your next date will be “Let’s just meet at your place.” This isn’t because men are scum or anything like that. It’s that there just still isn’t much to your relationship, it being new and all, and so people are going to go the low-investment route if it is possible.

For me, knowing I have a Saturday date makes me a lot less likely to accept poor treatment from my Friday date. I won’t accept last minute plans out of boredom, because I won’t be bored. I won’t end up sabotaging myself out of boredom, horniness or desperation. Later, when things are getting built beyond the initial attraction, things will be different. But for now I’m staying busy and keeping my options wide open.

So if you have a friend with benefits but are starting to date others, are you required to sleep with anyone you date immediately? Does a FWB benefits mean you have spread your legs at every OKCupid coffee date you meet? Or can you wait until the second date before the “you gave him one, so you owe me one too” thing kicks in? At some point, you should probably drop the FWB, but it seems silly to drop a good thing over someone you’ve just had dinner with once.

In my case, second date is basically where this all is. I’m casually dating a few people and a couple of them have blossomed into second dates. Our “relationships” are in different places and probably headed different places. The moment as something looks at all serious, I’ll focus on that. For now I’m not making a one-sided vow of bodily devotion to someone I just met.

if you got that from television, stop right now. TV shows (especially sitcoms) are almost universally worthless trash.

Um, yeah, as I said back in post #8, “. . . American TV shows and movies are utter lies . . .”

And I said it in post #3 and msmith said it in post #5. Threads go back over the same material.

I wouldn’t say that. They are exagerations or idealized truths. Living in NYC isn’t exactly like Friends, Seinfeld, Sex And The City or How I Met Your Mother. But I can certainly see similarities.
**even sven **- The problem with your theory is that you are basically projecting an image of yourself who dates / has sex casually. It might make it difficult to meet someone who actually looks at you as someone to have a serious relationship with. It’s not even a moral judgement. If I met someone like you when I was dating (and I have), I would just think you were just looking to have fun and wasn’t ready to get into anything serious.

Concur. But then that just shows how different the dating styles are among groups of people. I would think Sven was a bit of a flake for dating the way she does. But, perhaps among her group, it wouldn’t be seen as that weird.

Fair enough. I pretty much agree.

I also think it’s how many guys approach relationships- have fun and keep it casual until you fall for someone really hard. This seems a lot less agonizing than the typical female method of relentlessly trying to hammer anyone who comes near into the highest level of commitment possible, and then making yourself crazy because you’ve gotten emotionally stuck on someone who just isn’t all that into you, or is fundamentally incompatible, etc.

Half of my girlfriends have given up on men because every relationship they get in makes them unhappy. They see dating as a series of dispiriting failures on the fruitless quest to rope a man in. They forget how to have fun, because every encounter feels like Big Stakes. This is where the whole “where are all the good men” thing comes from. If you put your heart on the line for every guy who you eat dinner with, you are going to end up disappointed, frustrated and bitter much of the time.

I’d also hope the guys I’m dating are seeing other people. Go ahead and compare me to other girls- if you decide you’d rather be with them, you probably aren’t a great catch for me, right? I’m not afraid of that, that’s doing me a favor by weeding out the guys who just aren’t that in to me. If you commit to a relationship with me, I’d hope it’s because you really want to be with me, not because it represents your statistically best chance of getting laid.

Anyway, it does seem pretty unfair that the woman is expected to practice monogamy from the get-go, without any formal agreement or expectations of reciprocity from the man. Does the “terms of the relationship” talk only exist for men, then? We all know men hate the “terms of the relationship” talk and will put it off as long as possible- and why shouldn’t they, when they expect the full benefits without shouldering any of the commitment?

Again, maybe it’s just my group of friends, buy guys who date multiple people like that to weed out the also-rans seems like a rare occurrence as well. I remember a few years back giving one of my friends all sorts of crap over the fact that he hadn’t broken it off with his then girlfriend because he found someone he liked more.

And then he ended up marrying her two years later, so it’s not like it was just some fling.

Well, since she’s already said that’s essentially the case, what’s wrong with that? You act like everybody who dates ought to be creeping through the bushes admonishing people to be vewwy, vewwy quiet, we’re hunting husbands. That’s not the only model for dating. It’s not even, ime, the most successful model for finding a good* long-term relationship. It’s far more likely to land you the sort of relationship where a guy puts up with your “crappy relationshippy stuff” in exchange for pussy access, and you put up with him viewing an emotional relationship with you as some onerous chore in exchange for dick access/not being alone/a chance to have kids.

For a depressingly large number of people people, that’s enough, and for them fucking on the first date and every date thereafter and getting exclusive immediately is a good and workable strategy** But for a lot of us, it’s quite simply not within a three-county radius of being enough. For us, immediately introducing exclusivity and the bonding hormones that go with sex to a relationship that ultimately can only ever be Not Enough is a really dumb game plan. If you’re exclusive with Mr. Crappy Relationshippy Stuff, then the door is closed when Mr. I Actually Enjoy Talking To You comes along. And then you’ve missed out, and for what? Bupkes and a lot of it, that’s what.

Besides, sex is not like buying ice cream for small children, where if one gets it they all have to or else it’s not fair and there’s going to be tantrums. At least, it shouldn’t be.

  • One where you’re together because you genuinely like and respect one another as people and truly want to be together for the friendship and emotional support, and the sex is just a really fun fringe benefit.
    **Well, allowing for the time you’ll waste on guys who are put off by the notion that you’re looking for something long-term/serious. Like my brother was after his divorce. He actually told a woman on a blind date that if she was looking for someone to settle down with, they should just not even bother ordering dinner because he wasn’t into that. (She just rolled her eyes and told him to get over himself, it was just dinner. Besides, he could go home if he wanted, but she was hungry and by Og she was going to stay and eat. My sister-in-law is awesome.)

But that’s a different animal, what sven is talking about puts me more to mind of people hooking up with multiple others during a Spanish summer of village fiestas than of the guy who can’t find the cojones to tell his ex that she’s now his ex. Our hook-ups when I was a teen were for lower-number bases than hers are now, but those of her-age un-commited folks in the town where I grew up don’t stop with their jeans still on either…

It’s not that different, and I really think that the prevalence of “hooking up” is a TV thing. I know it happens for real, but I don’t believe it happens anywhere as often as TV/movies say it does.