We dated the Zeros… so you don’t have to.


Is Dating Obsolete?


The other day the tv was on and I heard a girl say, “the term “dating” is a little bit obsolete.”  What?! Dating is obsolete?  I’m not dating anymore, but I’ve only been out of the game a few years and it’s already obsolete? I felt a little sad, or maybe more confused. But let’s go back to the source.

The television show was Bravo’s “Gallery Girls” which according to Bravo’s website is “a docu-series that follows the lives of seven dynamic and ambitious young women in New York City who tackle the cutthroat environment of the art world while vying for their dream jobs.”  It’s like a hybrid of “Girls” and “The Real Housewives of New York” although I feel Lena Dunham would gouge my eyes out for writing that, but it’s kind of true.

Obviously, I’m older than these girls and I don’t live in New York, but at the end of the day, dating is dating. Just because people’s feeling about the term dating has changed doesn’t mean it’s no longer happening.  I think dating is still happening and is relevant.  Men and women (and we can blame social media, technology, attitudes, access to everyone and everything at all times, etc) have just lowered their expectations so much that they don’t call the dates they are going on dates anymore.  If no one expects anything, then how could anything go wrong?  This may no be good attitude towards dating, but it seems to be prevalent.  Since the word ‘date’ conjures up an idea of what will happen – food, a restaurant, a movie, etc – people don’t want to put those expectations on themselves or anyone else.  I think people have found ‘dating’ or the stereotype of the word to be disappointing. Guys don’t want to say they are dating anyone, girls don’t want guys to think they need anything from anyone, so the words “whatever”, “later”, and “hang out” get thrown around a lot instead of dating.  But really, it is still dating.  But let’s go back to the confused yet ‘dynamic and ambitious’ girls of “Gallery Girls” to hear what’s going on in the non-dating world of NYC.

After Angela, the budding photographer/model/waitress, claimed dating is obsolete, she went on to say this,  “I think we’re a little bit too cool for that… and also, I don’t want to set myself up for failure.”  Okay, now here is the real truth.  This sounds immature and really about semantics. She obviously was telling him it’s not a date so that neither of them felt they had to place any importance on their date/non-date.  It isn’t about being cool, but by not saying the word ‘date’ there was no expectation on either end for anything and therefore no chance of failing at it.  This strikes me as sad.  Are we just not dating anymore because we’ve failed at it?

Later Angela invites the guy she’s too cool to date to her friend’s art opening but says, “it is just a non-date, get-to-know-you sort of thing.”  She then explains that they’ve been texting a lot so there is anticipation and nervousness for the art opening and she agrees that the “the anticipation is always the best part of a new relationship.”  Wait, new relationship? Okay, so you don’t think he’s a friend and you totally want to hook up with him, so let’s be honest, you want to DATE HIM. Right?  After the guy awkwardly leaves the art opening, he tells Angela “let’s hang out later.” She then says to the camera, “I hope I didn’t blow it.”  What the fuck? What was there to blow?  She’s the sexy, laid back model/photographer who invited this guy out and now she’s blown it?  When did everybody lose their confidence? Frankly, when did women give up all power and confidence and now settle for the bare minimum of effort or interest from a guy?  Not that it’s easy to have true confidence in your early 20’s, but these women seem to be playing by arbitrary rules they don’t really like and giving in to them completely.

These women are all in their mid-twenties and I know I’m older, but I’m not ancient. I dated in the world of texting, facebook, twitter, status updates, etc. so, I get it.  I’ve had a ton of guys say, “we should hang out later.”  But the thing is, I know what that means.  If a guy means hang out, eat food, catch a movie, whatever – it’s a date, and I was never afraid to call it that.  When I watch “Girls” or “Gallery Girls” I just think, ‘ladies, when you demand more, you will almost certainly get it.”

When I look back at all my dates, hanging out, hook ups, etc. (and there were probably more than I care to remember) there was a common thread.  The guys that liked me more took me on actual dates.  The ones that floated around in a world of texts, late night calls, and last minute hanging out, obviously didn’t like me as much. It’s not that they hated me, but they weren’t that into me.  But isn’t that what we are trying to figure out?   If you’re going out with guys, or a guy is making the effort to take you out, then isn’t that the signal you’re looking for?  Maybe this world of non-dates is just a bunch of guys that aren’t really that into you.

According to Jessica Massa, author of The Gaggle, “Dates are now the exception instead of the rule,” Massa says. “It’s easy to feel like your love life is nonexistent…men and women alike should evaluate everyone they encounter, from a spin class buddy to a coworker to cross-country ex, and go on “non-dates” with them.”  But I disagree.  If I don’t know what I’m on, then I don’t think I know what’s going on and this sounds like a recipe for disaster.  When I’m on non-dates with guys, it’s because they are just my friend and I don’t want to be dating them.  I realize the word ‘dating’ feels more significant than hanging out.  If you say to friends, “I have a date,” they’ll respond with “ohhh, who is it? Where are you going? Do we know him?”  all said in a sing-song voice.

Ultimately, an idea that dating is obsolete is just women lowering the bar on the bare minimum of what they want from a guy.  I don’t mean to sound like a snarky know-it-all, but by not using the word dating doesn’t mean it’s not happening.  By losing the word or concept of dating because it’s “not cool” it will be harder to say, “I want to be in a relationship.” Have younger women learned that the more laid back, cool and effortless they are about men and relationship expectation they will no longer be feel insecure?  It’s really the opposite.  When you say what you mean and what you want, turns out you usually get it.  Sadly, it sometimes takes a decade of dating to figure that out.

I don’t know when we all stopped saying what we really mean and asking for what we want.  Several years ago I was dating a guy (let’s call him Guy X because I suck at coming up with fake names – if his name was Brad in real life, I’ll call him Chad on the blog – it’s pathetic, so let’s go back to Guy X).  We’d known each other peripherally through friends, but we ran into each other again and Guy X got my number and asked me to dinner. See, a real, actual date. That was a good start.  The good start followed with us being a couple for about 2 months until things got weird. Guy X got more and more flakey about calling me back. He said he was coming over “later,” and that somehow meant showing up at 2am was acceptable. He was harder to get ahold of. So I invited him over and basically told him that while I wasn’t sure what was going on, I wasn’t interested in us anymore. I thought we were dating exclusively, but it all felt weird and like I was an afterthought to him.  But we really got along and had a lot of mutual friends so I said I wanted it to be cool between us and no hard feelings, but let’s go back to being friends. It was one of the more adult conversations in my life.  I didn’t give an ultimatum, I didn’t beg or cry or ask him to change. I just knew it wasn’t going to work, so why expend more energy and frustration.  He was really polite, and I think while he liked me, it wasn’t enough for him to really commit to being with me. But I’ll never forget what Guy X said to me. After apologizing for lame behavior he said, “I think guys just try to see what they can get away with.”  I think that is unfortunately very true. For the majority of men, they will always try to see what they can get away with.  Can they get away with never cleaning up? Can they get away with playing video games for 8 hours in a day? Can they get away with not calling someone back? Can they get away with living in a slum?  Can they get away with eating ramen for 4 months in a row?  Whatever it is, especially in their 20’s, most men will try to get away with whatever is the least amount of effort. I think for most men this wears off and they eventually want more. They want a nice apartment, they want a great girlfriend, they want a great job, but personally I wasn’t going to let men get away with the bare minimum, not with me.  First of all, I find it a weak, cowardly way of dealing with people, and Guy X was too old and smart to be that weak.  I told him if he wanted an adult, committed relationship he should try to get away with less and stand up for himself and whomever he was dating more. He shrugged and agreed with me.  I ran into Guy X several months ago, he’s still single.

I think dating isn’t obsolete, times are just changing.  As young women, we see older women on movies and on television going on dates.  What we don’t see are college guys with barely $10 to their name, apartment parties, a sea of red solo cups, and everybody struggling to get by. Most guys you meet in your early twenties can barely pay for their own gas let alone take a girl on a traditional date.  Worse yet, we are in a recession and the big cities are the most expensive places to live.  In another episode of “Gallery Girls,” Angela laments “I’m so sick of the guys that we date in Brooklyn. Everyone’s got some sort of STD, everyone’s broke, everyone smells and doesn’t shower. I want someone who has a real career and is ready to settle down.” Obviously Angela does want to meet a nice guy (and I think we all want a guy that showers and doesn’t have STD’s and maybe in all of this hanging out there should be a continuous supply of condom).  She does want to date a good guy (because that is how you know you like him), and hopefully for the dating to turn into a good relationship.  And there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, there is everything right with that.  We just should not be so afraid to admit it.

By no means am I shunning the singletons.  I was single for a long time, much longer than I’ve been in a committed relationship, and a large part of me still aligns with that world. However, it’s okay to say you’re sick of being single and want to be with someone.  And I think part of the way of getting there is dating someone. It’s not always easy and maybe it’s not cool, but it still works if women will let themselves deserve it.




Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Comments via RSS