Down with “dating”!

I don't write too much about dating on here, because lets face it, Vancouver is a small city and everyone knows everyone, and that could just get awkward.  But this is a pretty meta post, so I'm just gonna go for it.

I am done with "dating".

There, I said it.  I've been single for the most part for the last 2.5 years, and at this point I've had my fair share of awkward first dates, and awkward few week to few month long "relationships."  Granted, probably the first 1.5 years of that was that sort of messed up dating where I was still working through everything from the previous relationship and finding myself again.  But the last year and a bit, I have really been in a frame of mind where if I met someone who was also in that place, and we hit it off I could actually see myself being ready for it.

That hasn't happened yet, but in the meantime, I have been meeting new people, testing the waters of what I would call "dating" and keeping an open mind when it comes to different types of people.  Though there have been some great people that I've met, obviously nothing has gotten more serious to a point where I would say someone was actually my "partner" (ugh all these labels are so awkward!).

Anyway, I started feeling like it was just me, that I sucked at dating.  I mean, really this is the first time I've dated to any extent, but it really does feel different than navigating meeting people while in university for instance.  And I started to think about why, and I realized it wasn't me, but dating that sucked!

In school, I feel like because there was such a social vibe all of the time, it was easy to get to know people in a more casual or "friend" context, and actually get a good feel for their personality before even getting to the point where you would consider getting involved on a serious romantic level.  But when I found myself single, in my mid-twenties, living downtown, and working at a small company where I didn't meet a lot of new people, the dynamic was all of a sudden different.

I actually had to put some effort into it if I wanted to stay in touch with new acquaintances or meet people who were outside of my circle of friends.  And it seemed like "dating" was more grown up - that's what you are supposed to do when you're an "adult" right?

But this whole time it just hasn't sat quite right with me.  It has seemed like there is so much pressure, so many expectations, so much miscommunication, so many labels that I haven't been comfortable with.

Then this weekend, a wise friend was the catalyst to my epiphany, which had been brewing for a few weeks but just not quite solidified: I don't believe in "dating."  It doesn't make sense in my world.

There is a reason I used to feel more comfortable getting to know people in school, and why the people I did spend time with were more upfront, honest, and easier to understand.  Why there weren't the same sort of labels, expectations, and assumptions about what spending time together meant.

It was because the first question was always, do I want this person to be my friend?

Friends first sounds cheesy, and can also sound like a lot of effort, but that really is what works.  I want to be able to figure out what someone's about without the pressure of whether or not we're a couple, without having to factor in anyone's expectations of what role their girlfriend is going to fill, and what kind of timeline things will run on.

I'm not saying I'm against having anything physical go on during this getting to know process, and everyone has their own comfort levels and boundaries.  But for me this means not jumping to conclusions: snuggling does not = I'm your girlfriend.  Seeing you a couple times a week does not = I'm your girlfriend.  Calling just to say hi and see how your week was does not = I'm your girlfriend.

For me, that slippery slope of spending time with someone and all of a sudden having to label yourself, so that there is an obvious way you fit into someone's life, is a danger zone.  I believe that it should be a conscious decision, the choice to get into an actual serious, committed "relationship" with someone. And that it shouldn't be done hastily of half-heartedly.

And so, regardless of how grown-up and proper dating is, I am over it.  It doesn't work for me.  It leads to mixed messages, and pressure, and awkwardness.

All I want to do is spend time getting to know people I think are cool, and who feel the same way about me, and if we keep feeling that way once we actually have a grasp on who each other are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, then we can talk about what role we want to have in each others' lives.

The labels, I can take em or leave em.  Actions speak louder than words, and they don't mean jack to me.

Sayonara "dating," good riddance to you, I am movin on.