Dating is the Wimbledon of social intercourse, so you’ll be happiest and most successful if you practice, correct mistakes as you go along, and don’t expect to make the finals the first time out. This should be fun and interesting. If it feels grueling, unpleasant, or exhausting, take a breath and a break and kick back for a while. You’re fine by yourself!
Keeping a Dating Notebook
Throughout this book, I include exercises you can do to find out more about yourself and what you want, as well as suggestions for noting your feelings and impressions. Treat this as both an opportunity and a project to find out more about yourself.
Buy yourself a spiral notebook and a pen and write down specifics. (Be sure to write in ink because it’s useful to go back and see what you were saying as opposed to erasing it, if you didn’t like it, because your musings can be a work in progress, a reflection of who you were and who you’re becoming.) Instead of writing in this text (I still haven’t recovered from the fact that my second grade teacher would never let me so much as underline in my book),
I want you to provide your own notebook, but keep it with Dating For Dummies, but make sure no one else can casually pick it up and be privy to thoughts you might want to keep a bit more private. When you write something down, include information that will help you remember who you were at the time of notation, your feelings, your job, your wishes and dreams as well as the date, the time of day, who you were dating at the time, how old you were, and where you
This info can really be an ongoing log (sort of like Captain Kirk StarDate log as if your dating is entering a strange, new world, encountering exotic new species!). (In spite of my teacher, if you bought this book, underline as you see fit unless you checked Dating For Dummies out of the library. Hey, splurge and buy your own copy and keep it around for reference.)
Even when Internet dating was in its infancy, I understood the advantage and disadvantages of the computer as cupid — in a word, dramatically increasing the pool of potential dates, as well as offering options, which is never a bad thing. It gives people an opportunity to “meet” people from different social circles, creating the delightful sense that somebody wonderful is just around
the corner (as long as one is able to resist endless corner peering).
Then as now, it’s important to online date for a minimum amount of time before going in-life. My basic rule of thumb is that you should have no more than a couple of e-mail chats and phone calls over a couple of weeks before you meet somebody face to face. The last time I checked, literally millions of people are online dating. On a more personal level, I know 12 couples who met online (not all of whom have admitted to having allowed a computer to match make).
Here’s the good news and bad news about online dating (for more info on
online dating, see Chapters 6 and 29):
- The good news about online dating is that it does increase the number of possibilities and can be morale boosting to see how many people are around and available, plus it gives you an opportunity to shop.
- The bad news is that it can be impersonal, time consuming, and addictive, with a large dollop of fantasy, and there’s a tendency to shop.
People tend not to be incredibly honest about who they are, what they’re looking for, their weight, age, marital history, their past, their sex, whether they’re straight or gay, because it is fantasy. Married people have been known to pretend that they were single; gays, straight; older people, young; young people, older. But if nothing else, it’ll give you the sense that there are people out there.
Instant messaging has become part of the Internet scene, enabling you to get in touch with somebody immediately and talk in real time to them in a completely artificial while seemingly urgent way. Instant messaging discourages self-censoring, voice clues, or reality-based feedback loop. If you’re angry with one another (or even if you’re not), you may end up typing something that you might not have said if you had a little longer to think it through. Although you do get an instant response, it’s not the same as a conversation, so things like tone, sense of humor, and irony really do get lost in typing. No matter how you cut it, communicating through the Internet really is simply typing.
Chat rooms are another part of the fantasy world of the Internet. They’ve been known to be very disruptive to relationships even when they’re not suggestive or pornographic, and when they are, Nelly bar the door! And for those of you who view Internet porn as harmless or private, beware! Because Internet porn is so instantly available (it doesn’t even come in a wrapper anymore), it’s right there in front of your keyboard. Women tend to be grievously offended by it, and men tend to think, what’s the big deal? If Internet porn is part of your life and you’re dating, you need to think through what you’re really doing here, what your intent is, and what happens if you get caught. Remember that very few things are private anymore.
The days of men expecting or being expected to pay for everything have come and gone. It makes a women look modern, generous, and interested to at least offer and be willing to pick up the check, especially if she’s making a
decent living. Even if not, offer to do what you can even if it’s a picnic in the park! Guys, offering to split the check makes you look cheap — I know she looks generous, but you’ll be labeled chintzy. Times are changing — but not
Ah sex, the fundamental things apply, except that we’re not quite so basic anymore when you add in earlier puberty, longer lives, sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, hooking up, women being more sexually aggressive
and assertive, drugs, and rock and roll. Relax, go at your own pace, always use protection, and remind yourself to be respectful of your partner and yourself since both of you are susceptible to — but not controlled by — hormones.
When in doubt, wait! Choice is complicating but eventually empowering!
I’ve mentioned this so many times before, but be reasonable and cautious. Dating should be fun — not a walk on the wild side — so make sure you meet a stranger in a public place, make sure someone knows where you are, and
use your cell phone initially — don’t give your home address or business phone number or address until you know each other really well. Wait to have sex until you feel safe enough to give out a home number. Use protection and
floss after meals.