It’s becoming clear to me that cluelessness comes with the territory of “dating” when you’re a twenty-something whether we like it or not. Every time I talk with my girlfriends, there is a new question to be asked about the confusing life of a twenty-something dater. Because the lines of dating are so insanely blurry, hearts and egos are bruised by mixed signals and game-playing and attitudes such as, “Well, I’m not texting him first today. He can text me.”
When did the courtship process become a chore? When did dating stop being fun? The beginning stages of a relationship are supposed to be enjoyable and exciting and new. It’s not supposed to be something that makes us want to throw our phones against the wall, drink 5+ vodka sodas, and then hibernate in our apartments for the rest of winter. When did the act of actually dating begin to die? Why doesn’t anyone date anymore? And please, if you disagree with me already, feel free to let me know your success story. Maybe I can learn a thing or two from you.
It seems to me that most courting nowadays happens at a crowded bar over blaring music and cheap beer, but where’s the romance in that? It feels like the old ways of dating are nearly extinct. They’re endangered, guys! When I hear my parents tell stories of when they started dating, I can’t even begin to relate because dating has changed so much since they were young. Today, we meet a guy. We text back and forth for what seems like an eternity, carefully crafting text messages with the help of our three closest friends and all the while praying that he’ll ask us out to dinner. But then all we end up doing is meet up at a bar around 11 PM where we share a sloppy make out session and dance to Rihanna’s “Diamonds” until we stumble into bed around dawn. Is that what “dating” has now been boiled down to? Is this the new way of thinking: Why go on a date when you can find someone in the corner of bar to possibly take home after last call? Are we that lazy?
Maybe that’s why we’ve stopped dating — we’re just too damn lazy.
For me, dating isn’t just about the activity of grabbing a drink or seeing a movie with the hopes of getting lucky afterwards. I refuse to let that become the normal process of “finding a man” in my life. (Though if that is the way you want to do things and you’re happy with that, then good for you. I am in no position to judge.) But for me personally, I will choose to believe that dating is about getting to know someone better through a series of meetings and building a sense of connection and comfort.
It’s about feeling each other out to see if this is something worthwhile and worth putting more time into. You talk about each other’s families, where you grew up and your favorite band from the 90s and your favorite books. You talk and smile while trying to play it cool and ignore your sweaty palms and bouts of nausea thanks to uncontrollable nerves. Dating is about talking too much because you’re ridiculously self-aware and petrified of an awkward silence. It’s about the electricity of a simple hand graze or the special sense of ease following that first genuine shared laugh. It’s about putting on a new outfit that you know you look amazing in and waiting for that potential suitor to pick you up at your front door. Call me old-fashioned, but my romantic side yearns for this.
Side note: I’m not calling for a major regression back to traditional gender roles. I’m not saying that the guy should do all the work. I am not trying to put all the blame on men. Obviously, I have more experience with the male gender disappointing me when it comes to dating, but we females are just as guilty of letting the classic idea of dating slip through our fingers.
Girls need to take their fair share of the heat as well. I would be a hypocrite if I complained about how dating is dying and then placed all the blame on the opposite sex. I’ll willingly do my part to try and get back to the basics of dating. Shoot, I’ll even ask you out! I’ll pay for my part of dinner. I’ll go to whatever sporting event you love or watch your favorite kung-fu movie, as long as we can do it together and get to know each other along the way. I’m not picky, but I do want something that’s worthwhile and meaningful. No bars. No blaring music. No cryptic texts. Just two people who want to enjoy each other’s company. Though I wouldn’t hate it if you told me I’m pretty or something while we are doing those things because let’s be real, I’m still a girl.
Dating doesn’t have to be this complicated dance with steps no one can master. It doesn’t have to be coated with high expectations and crippling pressure. It’s about hope and taking chances and being vulnerable in the best way. First dates are always filled with such excitement and curiosity. Don’t we want that in our lives? The enthusiasm of dating needs to be revived. Of course, I completely understand this is all easier said than done because we’re all a little scared to take the chance — a little scared to take a leap of faith. It takes a lot of guts to ask a person out on a date. The fear of rejection can be paralyzing, but I firmly believe that the risk is worth the potential reward — a cool time with a great person and the enchanting possibility of love and romance. (Do I sound like Taylor Swift, yet?) And if things don’t pan out the way you had hoped, at least you took a chance and make a bold move. That right there is worth the risk.
Let’s uncomplicate this. Let’s get back to the basics. Let’s get lunch. Let’s go for a walk. Let’s grab a cup of coffee. Let’s take a chance. I’m not asking for a dozen roses or a diamond necklace or a corner booth at the nicest restaurant in town. I’m asking for nervous-excitement. I’m asking for butterflies. I’m asking for the innocence of a first date to be resurrected. I’m just asking for a little romance.
Katie has recently finished her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!