I’ve been single for eleven months or so. I’ve had time to transition into solitude from loneliness. I’m starting to contemplate, from this place of solitude, what to do next and how to go about it. My mother, hearing me wish aloud for a nice, stable nine-to-five spouse, definitely a beta in Red Pill parlance and unashamed of himself, even offered to buy me a dating site membership. This is how it’s done anymore: you go online, you browse the profiles, you hope for the best.
I love the way Alison Tedford at Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops illustrates the experience: with a hefty dose of Princess Bride, of course!
One of the online dating pitfalls she points out is this — stop me if you’ve heard it before: When he says he wants a “relationship” but just wants to hookup. Ahahaha, oh, yes. Inigo Montoya is very apropos there. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Which is fine. The generational divide is tricky for people my/our age (she’s surely not more than five years out from me, either way). We can’t say definitively what millennials or just-pre-millennials do. There is no one thing they/we/whatever do. This is why it’s all the more important to know who you are and make sure the person you’re dating knows where you stand.
I personally am a no-sex-before-commitment person, and I’ve quoted her before, but I really think Martina Navratilova applies here: “Think of a plate of bacon and eggs. The chicken is involved; the pig is committed.” Being involved with someone isn’t far enough. To me, it’s not a relationship yet. Dating with no sense of the future, no mutual goals or ideals, that’s the chicken’s role. Lay the eggs and move right along. Commitment happens when some part of you that you can’t take back easily enters the equation. For me, that’s the idea that we’re there for each other on an emotional and a physical level. That if one or the other of us breaks it off, the other gets an explanation (unless the breakup happens for personal safety reasons — then you run and don’t look back, okay?). That there’s a future and we want to be in it together, to the point where we are accountable for any 180s we happen to do on previously established positions. We’ve met as much of each other’s family and friends as possible. Bona fides: firmly established.
That’s my usual prerequisite for sex.
For me, it’s a sad truth that if you go for sex any sooner than commitment, you do increase the odds that the person you’re with is going to be the person who only says s/he wants a relationship. While s/he can lay some metaphorical eggs and walk away, what does s/he have to lose? But when it’s bacon on the line — well.
I don’t know if I can make exceptions. I don’t let my religious leanings dictate my sexuality, more my sense of what’s ethical for all in a given situation. I may find myself in a place where I want some human really-closeness for an afternoon; convincing my mind I can do it, though, that’s different. The person would already have to be someone I read as safe, kind, and good. The person would have to be someone I felt could respect me as a person later. In this way I am not an unusual woman. Just on the cautious end of the scale.
It’s eleven months after almost six and a half years, you know? Parts of me are still changing and healing. I am in a mental and emotional place where I can be my own best lover until I find what’s really right for me. I am a person who is now acting out of choice, not desperation. It helps that I did not do to Eleven what he feared; I did not use him as a springboard into some other relationship. I gave my word and I kept it, and I’m feeling really proud of that. We did our best not to hurt each other. We were ethical about our divergent paths. We won’t be shouting recriminations at each other about the end, whatever we feel we might have done differently (and yes, I mean “we”; I don’t let myself off the hook). I can look myself in the face, and I hope he can do the same.
Ethics and courtesy go a long way toward a healthier society, I think. If we apply those things to our relationships, how much more awesome could dating be? Figure out who you are — be honest, be real — be in a healthy place before you date — be decent to each other. Don’t judge each other on what you need, just acknowledge when you’re incompatible and wish each other the best going forward. (Assuming no harm has actually been done. Always that.) If you need/want a postmortem, keep it civil, and own your shit if you expect the same from your ex.
It’s a dating jungle out there. I know this very well, from long experience. There are many right ways to navigate this jungle.* All of us find our path, even if we get caught up in vines first. Eventually we stumble into a clearing and boom! There’s our tribe! People who date and relate like we do. The only way you’ll get hopelessly lost is if you don’t know who you are or what you want. That’s like walking into the jungle without a compass, a view of the stars, or a guide.
The good news, though? With all the other people trying to find their own paths and tribes, you can band together and be each other’s guides. Friends are amazing like that. You don’t have to go it alone unless that’s your thing.
I’m still on the path, too. Come borrow my compass if you need it, okay?
* “No wrong ways” always needs a caveat.