Yes, I said it. Dating does not involve love. I’m not saying you cannot love someone you date, nor date someone you love. I’m saying that for almost all of us, if you go on a date, it is only a date. Too many people read things into something that is not really what they think it is. If you think that dating someone on a regular basis entitles you to anything at all, you are wrong. Without commitment and understanding, dating does not make a relationship. Now, let’s talk in general terms. You may feel some of this does not apply to you, but you could also be in denial.
I think this is where a lot of women get upset with men. Men see dates for what they are – a chance to get together and go out. They don’t usually see it as a relationship, or commitment of any kind. However, women see three or four dates as sort of a commitment and/or relationship, and have certain expectations. Then when they find out the guy is dating other women, they get mad at him. By the way, sometimes the roles may be switched, depending on the specific people.
I don’t condone dating multiple women (or men) while leading them to believe there is a commitment or relationship between you. You need to be clear with everyone that you are not dating them exclusively, nor having expectations of any future together. To do anything less than that is wrong. Men need to remember that women see things differently, and have hopes and expectations. If a woman is going to go out with you on a third or fourth date, it is usually because she sees a future with you.
Love doesn’t have anything to do with the date itself. Yes, if you love someone, you may choose where you go and what you do based on the person you love. Yes, if you love someone you may want to date them more. Yes, you may fall in love (or at least become smitten) because of what you do on a date. However, that is a function of our psyche, not of the date itself.
I want to clarify that dating and love are not synonymous. To date is merely to do something with a person of the opposite gender (I am dealing with heterosexual activity in this blog, but it also applies to gay and lesbian) that you wish to get to know better or do something with. It usually has a goal of getting acquainted, sharing yourself with the person, showing feelings, or impressing the person.
Love is something that happens whether or not you date someone. Love is the feeling you have or develop for someone else. It can be for a person, animal, or thing. There is plenty of love to go around. Now, why am I bringing this up?
There are many people out there that love to date. They think that dating is the way to make a relationship. They feel that you can’t have a relationship without dating. To them I say balderdash. I say that if you are interested in only dating all the time, you can lead a lonely life that you want to fill with activities or a void you try to fill with a lot of people. What about spending time with someone just to be with them? How about sitting on the patio watching the sun set? What about video and popcorn?
Maybe I’m getting a little abstract here, or getting someone upset over this. Let me simplify things.
What makes it a date? It is two people together exclusive of others (we won’t deal with double dating or group activities) and usually with romantic overtones. Is that why we don’t call it a date any more once you are married? A date is an archaic term, from the days when you got all dressed up and went out someplace – usually a movie and/or dinner or to the malt shop. It meant that a girl was picked up by a boy in his parents’ station wagon, they went out, and he had her back by 10 pm, or 9 pm if Dad had a shotgun.
Nowadays, dating is totally different. Often two people will meet at the restaurant, bar, or movie, they do their thing, head home, then tell their friends about it. Then they get online and chat together about the experience, or email each other to say how much fun they had and planning the next one. Huh? That seems like the same thing we used to do, but with a modern technology twist. Now where is the romance and mystique in computer monitors and apps? Were there roses and chivalry? Was he a gentleman and opened doors and walked on the curb side of the sidewalk?
I say to you that dating itself is not love. Don’t assume that just because the guy asks you out again that he loves you or has feelings for you. Don’t think that if you get him to take you out a lot, he will love you or want a relationship. If you have lots of dates with lots of different people, the only thing you are in love with is dating. Don’t confuse dating with love, or think that you must date to show your love.
Dating can be fun and fulfilling. A day at the beach, a night out, a favorite movie. Just remember that if you are getting several poor saps to take you out, or you are fooling several women into dating you, it doesn’t make you loved. It makes you lonely. It makes you a user. It makes you a misogynist. Yes, those are inflammatory words, with this caveat:
If you are dating someone to get acquainted and it doesn’t work out, don’t keep dating them because of convenience or as a place holder. Once you get to the point where it is evident that nothing will work out, it is your responsibility to end it nicely, and move on. If you lead people on and make them think they have a chance with you when they really don’t, you are doing a disservice to all other single men and women. You are burning someone that may take it out on the next person. You are using someone, and being selfish and uncaring.
Here is my philosophy on dating.
Dating is used to get to know somebody, and get to have a good time with them. Once you know it will not work out, you must stop dating that person, and don’t lead them on. Talk with them, discuss any issues or misunderstandings, and decide mutually whether it is worth pursuing romance. If you like each other’s company, it is fine to continue dating as friends but let them know you are not exclusive, and do things as such. I suggest you just be clear that this is the avenue you are taking.
If it does work out, you can continue to date, but there must be more as “couple-time together” than just dates. It is time to move on to more intimate or private time, like watching movies at home, enjoying a home cooked dinner, or hiking and shopping together. Dating is still good, but you should be working on the relationship in other areas as well. Compatibility testing comes from being together as much as possible. Most important are the commitment, honesty, and consideration. I say consideration because if you are making your partner incur costs just because you like to date, that is not consideration.
You may think this is harsh, or very short sighted. My point is that too many people out there just want to date as many people as they can. I want to impress upon those people that it is wrong to lead people on. I also want them to realize that there are other people out there that will read more into what they are doing. Many are toying with feelings, trust, and hearts. While they are having their fun dating people, without disclosure and honesty, they may break the heart or spirit of someone else. They don’t realize that someone may be getting attached or have feelings just because they are dating several times.
Also, I want others to know that when someone asks you out do not assume anything. You will hurt yourself and cause anticipation where there should not be any. Are you on date number 3? Don’t ask him/her where things are going. You might drop a hint that you enjoy the time together. Don’t hesitate to ask if they are dating anyone else. If they have to “think” before they answer, then they are. You may see them squirm. It is okay to make it clear that if you continue to date past this point, it does not necessarily mean there is a relationship yet, but that you do have some expectation of propriety or exclusiveness. Let them know that you are not just fooling around to date, that you want it to go someplace.
To keep from scaring them away, throw in that you know it is too soon to say anything permanent, but you want to have an understanding that you do not wish to be part of a group of people or “harem” they are dating. Tell them it is okay if they want to date others, as long as it is not while you are dating him or her.
Therefore, I am saying that if you are dating a lot, don’t think it means love. If someone is dating you, don’t think they are doing it because they love you. They may be a player, or may just want to get out of their home as much as possible. Don’t assume anything, and disclose all. I guess I’m saying don’t be selfish, and realize that there is another person to consider when you are making your choices.
I can hear someone under their breath wondering about activity partners. That is entirely different. You can have a friend of the opposite sex that you go do things with. Hiking, movies, bars, sporting events, or whatever. Just be clear that you are not dating, that they are an activity partner. You never know what is going through their mind and you must be fair.
If you want some good tips and information on dating, you should visit Central Coast Singles’ Facebook Page to find links to more information than you will probably need.