I hate cuddling and I have a new dislike for Hallmark holidays such as Valentine's Day and anniversaries. My new found hatred of these holidays can be rivaled only by the plague. Let's just say I don't do commitment right now. The most committal thing in my life is my dog. I had a hard enough time signing a phone contract last month.
Yeah, I sound like the 2012 post-modern woman. I don't do attachment -- just a casual hook up with stellar "direct" communication. I'll tell you exactly what I want and how I want it. I've got my own thing going and the last thing I want is the unspeakable "relationship" word to come up.
But I talk a big game and I don't really know if I can back it up. I'm fresh out of a seven-year relationship. Although "relationship" really doesn't capture what we had. I'd say life partner, but that doesn't quite fit, either. For all intents and purposes, we were married. Had we decided to settle in another state, we would have been common-law wed. No rings, no proposals. But we shared a life together: a house, a dog, a motor vehicle. And coming from parents who divorced and remarried twice, this was a huge deal for me. I always said I would either never get married or never get divorced. So far, it looks like option one is my calling.
So, how do you transition into the dating scene after being off the market for so long? At 29, dating is a lot different than 21. Without the comfort of college where you meet new people daily and your stock options in the opposite sex change every quarter, you actually have to venture into new avenues for eligible bachelors.
In a post-online dating society where people are burned out on Match or e-Harmony and you are constantly inundated with social networking, I think single folks have lost the art of communicating in a less tech-savvy way. Vetting an interested party requires only the click of a mouse and stalking Facebook timelines.
Texting brings up a whole other host of insecurities. This informal mode of communication allows us to be impersonal and try to interpret what the other party is thinking or saying via a text message. What I like to refer to as a backdoor mode of communication has tested my confidence on multiple occasions to the point that a deadening 90-minute hot yoga class was the only thing that could get my mind off compulsively checking my phone.
It really sucks to wait for a text message from someone you're not even supposed to like. And what do you do when you don't get a response in the timeframe you feel you should? Do you casually bring it up in conversation, "So, I noticed you didn't respond the other day." Yeah, right. The desperation might as well be written on my forehead. But it's so much easier to text than pick up the line -- so much less personal and the possibility of rejection doesn't seem quite as bad because it's simply characters on a large smart phone screen.
And when you actually do go on a date, how do you judge the social cues when your date's phone is treated like a child? What does it mean when he discreetly checks for emails or text messages? Is the conversation bad? Are my boobs not big enough? Is there spinach in my front teeth?
While I think that being connected constantly can be a great thing, there are some serious drawbacks when you throw dating in the mix. Maybe it's just that I grew up in an era when cell phones were the size of a large block of cheese and pagers were cool. "Hey, is that a pager on your hip, or are you just happy to see me?" And I'm not saying that I don't embrace technology -- I now sport an iPhone, have a blog and even know how to hashtag on Twitter. It's just that I question if we realize how much it impacts our lives, especially interpersonal relationships in the dating realm.
In order to avoid this world of confusion with the intersection of technology, dating and the unknown, I figured I'd stick to a "safe" candidate -- a specific man, a friend, who had recently gone through a breakup of his own. The man I chose was also someone who didn't exactly fit into my "type" whatever that was; I lost track over the last decade. Let's just say his extracurricular activities are not training for a half marathon, more like marathon of "Half Baked" and "Dude, Where's my Car." While we have a quasi-commitment with sexual fidelity, we don't share any other intimacies. We drew up two important rules at the beginning of this affair: No sleepovers and no canoodling. The intention of this setup was supposed to help me be an empowered woman (of course I decided this purpose on my own accord, but he would be the lucky participant).
In this situation, I could initiate a rendezvous and I could kick him out afterward. I could also use him to re-establish my sexual prowess. I could explore things that I always dared to do in my old relationship but didn't. And it was just casual. No relationship. No arguing over walking the dog or dirty dishes.
The established rules we set up a couple of months ago over a cup of coffee in the late afternoon on an unusually warm winter day have not been broken. But ironically, what I thought I wanted most out of him -- the security of being with a partner whom I trusted and felt comfortable with as I re-adjusted into the dating world, has changed. The things I thought I would miss the least (the snuggling, breakfast the next morning or the lazy nap you slip into after a nice afternoon delight) are precisely the things I realize I miss the most.