Mating Rituals, or Why We’re All Screwed

So, here’s the thing: dating might just possibly be the worst, most awkward experience anyone has ever had to deal with.  Your palms sweat, you get the butterflies in your stomach, you say the wrong thing, you can’t stop staring a certain part of the other person’s anatomy, your brain moves two seconds too slowly.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m talking through sand when I try to approach someone, like I’m having some kind of out-of-body experience.  Now, some people are really good at dating, really good at knowing exactly what to say when, and, personally, I think those people are rare and possibly a little bit scary.  More often, there are people like me, and probably you, who just suck at the whole experience.  Some people might call it insecurity; some people might call it lack of social skills.  I prefer to call it normal.  It’s absolutely normal to suck at dating, to suck at connecting to a stranger because so many of us have a select group of people we talk to on a regular basis and limited contact with strangers.  Especially sober.

But here’s why: we live in a society that not only says that the most important person in the world is yourself and promotes selfishness, but also keeps the genders entirely separate.  Still in our twenties and thirties, we act as if we are at a middle school dance, where the boys are on one side of the gym, the girls are on the other, and only a daring few will cross the basketball lines etched into the wooden floor to ask someone to dance.  The bar scene is eerily similar to a middle school dance–girls dance together and guys generally watch from the sidelines. Seriously, the only difference between adult daters and middle school daters (hopefully) is the advent of alcohol-induced courage.  With this courage, men feel like they can get any person in the room, women feel like, finally, they are desireable and able to make the first move.  Be honest, we’ve all done things and said things and taken items of clothing off of our bodies while blitzed. “Take a shot, man, then you can go get some!” a man says to a friend at the bar who is about to approach an attractive young woman on the dance floor. I’ve said, and heard several other women say, “I’m so shy most of the time, but get a few drinks in me, and I’ll talk to anybody (with or without clothing).” Reading just these two examples, can you see how alcoholic dating doesn’t generally foster long-term or meaningful relationships?  Because this is how it goes: men and women go to the bar, men and women proceed to drink their body weight in alcohol, men meet women/women meet men (or any variant in between), they seem to hit it off, go home together, have consensual sex (if neither party passes out or becomes afflicted with a whiskey dick), hopefully reach some kind of orgasm, and pass out.  Now in the morning, one of three things can happen: 1) One party sneaks out early and forgets the night ever happened, 2) Both parties part ways satisfied that they will never see each other again, or 3) In order to fill a loneliness within (and not feel like a floozy or philanderer, god forbid), the parties decide to try to form a relationship based on one night of booze-induced sexual haze. Only rarely does option 3 end well, and that’s why I’m here to help.

This blog really is for all the little Nerdlets in the corner, all the people who actively want to pursue a relationship but just don’t know how to begin.  Now, dating sites take away a lot of these little intricacies that make dating scary, but they also take away a lot of the appeal and the interesting aspects of dating.  How do I approach a person?  Can I approach just anywhere or only in specific places?  What if I get rejected?  What do I say? How do I express my interest without sounding like a creepy stalker? What if we have nothing in common?  When should I make the move towards the bedroom? Personally, I think a major part of dating isn’t reading a list of what the person makes a year and what that person’s interests are, but finding out in person.  True, you might find more people who are incompatible, but think of the life experiences you’ll miss out on.  This blog will also focus on some of our societally induced habits of dating and how detrimental they can be for the eventual happiness in personal and professional relationships.  What should you do when you go on a date with someone a friend has feelings for?  What the hell is the “Bro Code” anyway?  Why don’t I ever get a second date when I don’t call for days after the first?  All of these are merely teasers for what’s in store, and I’m always open to more suggestions about different areas of dating I haven’t covered yet.

Now, when I titled this “How to Date Sober,” I didn’t mean stone-cold sober.  If, for whatever reason, you don’t drink, good for you, I sincerely hope this blog helps you find someone to care about based on the tricks, tips, and knowledge I have gained through various life experiences.  If you drink only a few and can form rational and coherent thought, then I wouldn’t consider you drunk. A good rule of thumb for deciding whether or not you have beer goggles on is to gauge how nervous you are during the approach. With or without one or two drinks, you should still feel a few nerves when approaching someone.  Those nerves signal that you are still alive, still able to feel like a pimply faced teenager trying get the cutest boy/girl to look you in the eye, smile, and say “Hi.” That feeling of mind-numbing terror will tell you whether or not you’re doing it right.

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