High Stakes and the Dating Game
If you’ve gone on as many bad dates as I have, the good ones tend to stand out. This past week I managed to spend a few hours with a young man who was both easy on my eyes, and a good conversationalist. It didn’t hurt that he managed to pick one of my favourite restaurants, and was the consummate gentleman who opened doors, and remembered to put me on the inside of the street away from traffic as we walked.
I was cautiously optimistic about our chemistry, relieved that he didn’t attempt to grope my “assets,” (although I hope he thought about it, because I most certainly thought about his) and was genuinely looking forward to seeing him again until I broke the cardinal rule about good dates: Don’t tell your single and bitter about it girlfriends, guys that are secretly hoping you’ll give them a chance, or your less than happily married friends! Best believe misery loves company!
My bitter girlfriend saw my date’s age (he’s 32) and his candidness about his previous dating experiences as red flags. “Girl you better watch out now; he’s getting up there and you know older single guys are single for a reason. Besides his previous stories sound like he has issues to me!” I had to remind her that we all had issues, and that I had yet to meet a man below the age of thirty who had an inkling of what he wanted.
One of my closest guy friends who knew that this date was almost two years in the making, laughed sarcastically when I said it was all about timing, before proceeding to ask if I was now “seeing someone”. I had to remind him that I wouldn’t call two dates “seeing,” and while the dating scene in New York was “sad,” what good was cynicism going to do.
Last but most certainly not least, my less than happily married childhood friend proceeded to lecture me on how poorly I played “the dating game.” Our conversations as I described them were way too friendly – we shouldn’t be talking about what was most important in a relationship on date two; we should have been flirting outrageously and making subtle hints about sex.
More than anything else I should want the guy to be thinking about that, and I shouldn’t go out of my way to be nice to him at all. Didn’t I know that “nice” girls and guys finished last; what I should be was flirty but hard to get at the same time. The point of the “dating game” was to win the best partner; and my refusal to play the part didn’t mean I wasn’t part of the game, it just meant I was setting myself up to be played.
“The point of the ‘dating game’ was to win the best partner; and my refusal to play the part didn’t mean I wasn’t part of the game, it just meant I was setting myself up to be played”
While I appreciated his advice, I shudder to think that all my peers both male and female think this way. Truth is – if the net result of the “game”, is a comfortable but passionless existence with a kid and even less sex than my mostly celibate single lifestyle currently allows for, I want no part of it!
I asked him if he was then telling me that it was impossible for me to meet a man who would get to know me and think, “she’s hot, she’s smart, she’s honest, I like spending time with her and she can cook,” before deciding to put a ring on it post haste. He chuckled before responding in the negative.
Admittedly marriage doesn’t have a good reputation, but it is still “far more important than anything else in determining personal well-being,” wrote NY Times op-ed columnist David Brooks in his recent column ‘The Sandra Bullock Trade’. He adds: “If you have a successful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many professional setbacks you endure, you will be reasonably happy. If you have an unsuccessful marriage, it doesn’t matter how many career triumphs you record, you will remain significantly unfulfilled”. Another study even postulated, “Being married produces a psychic gain equivalent to $100,000 a year”.
Happiness is a tricky thing to study, but all the research seems to conclude that “economic and professional success exists on the surface of life, and that they emerge out of interpersonal relationships, which are much deeper and more important”.
At 27 – I’m not ashamed to say I’m the strong, independent type. My career is important to me but briefing documents, media lists and seeing my clients name in ink doesn’t keep me warm at night. A toy can take the edge off sexual frustration; I know because I have one, but it can’t replace the intimacy and companionship that comes from knowing someone is rooting for you.
I’m not interested in playing a high-stakes game that isn’t going to result in any net long-term satisfaction. I’m looking for a partner who doesn’t want average; and is willing to invest as much energy as I in cultivating our relationship even after we have kids. The stakes are way too high and life is simply too short to waste one second of it in an unhappy relationship. The only moment I have is the one I’m in right now, and that is no game – that’s life!
In the meantime, I’m steering clear of the “Debbie Downers,” and doing as they say in Latin “Dum spiro spero” – While I breathe, I hope.
Image credit: Istockphoto.com