Sunday 23 September 2018

The Dating Game

I can state with absolute confidence that I have spent the majority of my life either in a relationship, chasing a relationship or absentmindedly fawning over a man. If someone asked me to catagorise myself  I'd probably say I'm a serial relationship jumper; someone who spends the majority of her time going from one partner to the next with little to no time spent being single in between. Now this isn't necessarily because I'm constantly on the rebound; I just happen to find myself in relationships a lot of the time. I've been very lucky with the majority of my partners and my serial dating habits have not made me incapable of being independent. I love my own space and I enjoy my own company. 

Being single for the second time in my late 20's has made me re-evaluate things though. I'm looking through a slightly older, hopefully wiser lens and I'm not entirely sure I'm liking what I'm seeing in this "new age" of dating. The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw an advert entitled "Catch Him and Keep Him: 10 ugly mistakes women make that ruins any chance of a relationship". My gut reaction was to become a keyboard warrior and comment on the advert. I wanted to state how ridiculous it was to target women in such a way; I mean how dare an advert describe a mistake as "ugly"? Especially when it comes to dating. The rule books on how to find your "perfect man" are so extensive nowadays no wonder us girls are falling short. How on earth are we supposed to keep up with these so called "techniques" to trap the wild animal we have come to call the common man. The fact we even type cast men in such a way is sexist in itself; heaven forbid a man may actually WANT to be in a relationship?! 

The whole ad got me thinking; at what point did we decide to turn the world of dating into a game? When the prize at the end is supposed to be a deep, meaningful relationship that has longevity, why are we treating the lead up like some kind of sick Saw lll style movie, with rules that are almost impossible to follow? The more I thought about it the more I realised.... The relationships I'd been in before had very rarely come about following such "tit for tat" style behavior. I was officially confused. 

The weeks that followed reading this article were interesting. I began to try and unlearn the rules I had started to hold in such high regard. I changed my behaviour when it came to speaking to guys, either out in bars or over text. I stopped putting as high a value on the attention they gave me and in return, I stopped assuming that I should be the most important thing in their lives at that given moment. Dating is a time to get to know someone, not a time to become solely invested. I stopped classifying chilled out behaviour as being mugged off. I tried my best to stop second guessing things and more importantly, I learnt to separate my own needs from those of my friends. 

I'm not entirely sure at what point we decided to put men on these unrealistically high pedestals. And I'm not sure when it became a negative in life to need someones affection and attention; for them to respond to a text or an email in a timely fashion and for a girl, god forbid, to ask a guy out on a first date. I regularly hear women telling me that the guy should message first. That he should be the one chasing and making us feel like a prize to be won. Why? Why is it that when a girl chases a guy, she's immediately perceived as being desperate? And usually not even by the man in question, but by her own female friends? Don't get me wrong I know the line between being overly keen and obsessive is a fine one to trapeze; everyone should hold a high value on self preservation. But to assume that someones needs and desires are purely based on whether they are male or female is a completely ludicrous concept. Everyone is individual, regardless of their sex.

To those of you who are single and currently going through the dating loop, take a step back. Put down the newest dating book you've just picked up and ask yourself, has your behaviour to date actually gotten you where you wanted to be? If he hasn't text you back it doesn't necessarily mean he's not that into you. Maybe he's just not that into you YET or more to the point, maybe he's... You know....Busy? If you haven't found Mr. Right, maybe that's the universe trying to tell you it's a good time to be on your own. After all, the sole purpose in life isn't to find a partner, it's to be happy.  

So. Send the text. Or don't. Do whatever you feel you need to but please, don't follow some ridiculous rules that have absolutely no credibility at all. We are perpetuating this "Dating Game" economy and I think it's time to buck the trend. 

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