7: Thoughts on Dating

I am doing NaBloPoMo this month. 30 blog posts in 30 days. Come join me. #nablopomo2022

photo credit: @elizabethtsung via Unsplash

My friend Stephany recently shared her new rules for dating (specifically online dating) after reading Logan Ury’s book, How Not to Die Alone (which I haven’t read, but am intrigued by) and I literally had to pick my jaw up from the floor after reading her post. Not because I found the rules outrageous (in fact, I was impressed by how much thought she put into creating these rules for herself and her plan to implement them for a better dating experience), but because I was so shocked at how much work dating is these days. I would probably die as an old spinster if I had to date in the modern world. I don’t think I would have the energy and patience for it. Here’s a confession: I am a total ‘dating ignoramus’ because I don’t think I have ever dated.

But wait, San, you’re married. You must have at least dated Jon!

Well, yes and no. If you call “meeting, getting to know each other, and becoming a couple” dating, then yes, we dated. Sort of. But if you talk about dating in the sense of the word as it is used today, then no, we didn’t date. In fact, I think Jon completely failed at the dating etiquette of modern times, by just randomly chatting me up, and then “following” me around for the rest of the evening. He confessed later to me that most American girls would have probably been weirded out by this and would have politely found an “exit strategy”. But there was nothing weird about it for me and I had such a great time talking to him that I didn’t even think about it twice. (Come back later for one of the AMA posts when I will share more about how we met.)

Honestly, “dating” is a very American concept for me, which comes with a lot of rules and expectations that I was not aware existed in Germany (maybe they do now? Maybe things have changed in the last two decades, who knows? They probably have.)

I had precisely two relationships in my life: a long-term boyfriend from when I was a teenager to my mid-20s, and then Jon. Both these relationships just “happened” naturally. I wasn’t actively seeking a partner (well, as much as you’re “not actively seeking” as a young adult when you’re meeting new people), and I didn’t (have to) go out with a bunch of guys before settling on one. And granted, this all happened before the era of social media and dating apps (which sound like they have complicated things A LOT). 

Of course, I did have crushes (as a teen), and I probably hung out with a guy or two, but there was never actual dating involved. (Maybe it was dating, and they just didn’t call it that back then. It was never an official date (like, I wasn’t asked to “go on a date”) and there was no talk about a “second or third date”. Everything developed quite organically (or not). 

The whole process today, especially if dating apps are involved, weirdly sounds like you’re applying for a job as a romantic partner. There are dating app profiles and suggestions on how to best present yourself, conversation starters, rules about the first date, and the second date. And yes, while I realize that most people probably have their own strategies when it comes to dating, my take-away from Stephany’s post and the whole dating thing is: I never had to do any of this, and THIS SOUNDS FREAKIN’ EXHAUSTING. It does not sound like fun to jump through all these hoops to find a partner (although I do know – quite a few! – people that successfully matched on dating apps and have beautiful relationships now).

The closest I have come to ‘dating’ in recent years is trying to make new (local) girlfriends (and we all know how hard that can be, without the added pressure of physical attraction).

This is to say, I don’t envy anyone who’s going through this process. Maybe I was just incredibly lucky that I never had to date as an adult, that I didn’t have to employ all these strategies to find my person. Our paths crossed randomly and I am quite relieved that it worked out that way (twice!) for me. However, I am also somewhat of a romantic and believe that people who are meant to find each other will find each other. One way or another.

Are you currently dating?
What’s your dating experience?
Or are you mostly ignorant like me?

  1. Ah dating, good times! I met my husband online, so I’m a huge fan of online dating. The difference is that when you met Jon, you liked him so things clicked and you didn’t need to “evaluate” him. The day after I posted my online profile I had 50 messages so it was a bit overwhelming. Basically Stephanie’s process gets someone from a bunch of messages from strangers to the first in person conversation, so from online to where you started with Jon.

    And yes I was very lucky to meet my husband on my first day as on online dater so I really can’t say that I have a lot of dating experience and I’m OK with that;-)

    1. That’s a good point, Beckett. If you date online and get a gazillion messages, you have to evaluate and start comparing and you have to weed out first. And hopefully, someone will be “left over” that you can meet with and click.

  2. Oh, modern dating does sound exhausting. I was at a wedding last month and I was asking my husband’s aunts and uncles how they met (it seemed like a good, neutral conversation starting appropriate for a wedding) and it was amazing how many said it was either because a friend set them up or they met at a bar! I mean, imagine! People used to just meet organically!

    I dated a little bit, but I’m awkward and weird and even my own husband wanted to date my roommate and sort of settled for me! I can’t imagine I’d have a lot of success out there in today’s world and if something ever happened and I was single again, I imagine I’d be single for the rest of my life. LOL.

    1. Haha, I do not believe that your husband “settled for you”, I am sure he realized that you were much more awesome than your roommate ;)

  3. I don’t think I would be good at dating. So happy you didn’t find it awkward Jon following you around and you two naturally became a thing!!! Hi Jon 👋

  4. I have NO dating experience– my husband has been my boyfriend since high school. My mom is 70, and she just started dating after my dad died– so tough!

    1. Oh my, dating in your 70s in this day and age… I can only imagine how overwhelmed your mom must feel. But good for her for putting herself out there.

  5. I have no idea about dating. And yes, as a fellow European, I also think the “American” concept of dating doesn’t/didn’t exist here. I met my husband 20 years ago on my gap year in Canada. He’s German so we probably broke all the rules applying there, lol

    1. Haha, that’s an interesting “how I met my husband” story. I am not sure where you’re from, but I feel like “dating” someone from a different country really throws all the rules out the window somehow.

      1. I’m Swiss, so my husband me share similar cultural references, it definitely helps! But I’m so glad I don’t have to navigate online dating.

  6. I am so glad I never had to do this dating circus. I agree it’s a rather American thing. At least I can’t remember seeing it Germany. For the husband and it also happened more organically. Meet ing in a bigger group and then after a while also meeting alone…

    1. Yup, this is how people used to meet… this is how I met my first boyfriend, but I was still a teenager, so things might have been a bit different back then and maybe also change when you get a bit older.

  7. I never dated anyone other than my husband. And even that, like you describe with your Jon, does not fit the mold of “modern” dating. We were together for 6 months before we got engaged and then spent a year doing a long-distance relationship while he worked in another province and I started grad school.

    Everyone has their own story, so I think that the modern habits surrounding dating would feel normal if that’s how we met our partner/spouse. But I agree – it does sound very exhausting. And I think that people are so focused on finding the “perfect” someone now. There is so much choice and so many opportunities to meet new people (e.g. dating apps with millions of users!). Obviously, it’s important to choose a life partner VERY wisely, but I wonder if people have more unrealistic expectations now? A spouse cannot “complete” you; there will never be someone who is perfect. We’re all flawed and that’s part of the beauty of all relationships. But I wonder if the airbrushed world of the internet and filters has taken the sheen off dating and has built people up for disappointment when the internet expectation doesn’t meet real-world reality?

    I’m so glad I didn’t go through so much of the heartache that can be involved with dating and fractured relationships. My now-husband and I met in my final year of college. I’d never even officially had a boyfriend before (he was older and had definitely dated before me)…and it all worked out beautifully in the end and we’re 13.5 years into our marriage <3

    1. I know a little bit of how you met your John and I remember that you were the one running after him to give him your phone number :) I am so glad you found each other in such a natural way.

      You’re right, I think if the modern dating world and online dating is your reality, it probably feels normal to you. But yes, you’re probably starting to look for “perfect” when there is so many options and it’s hard to just take any person for who they are when you constantly feel like there could be “MORE” out there.

  8. Oh wow, I dated a lot. Like, a lot. And it’s been a while, so I’m trying to think how this all happened…I guess I met guys at parties, and maybe school? How did I meet people? I can barely remember. I remember I met a guy at a bar once, he turned out to have been a boxer who had a few too many hits to the head and that gave his personality some strange characteristics – we didn’t date long. It’s funny though, because my husband and I were friends for like two years before we started what I’m going to call dating, but was really kind of finally having sex after having gone on platonic dates for two years. Is that weird to say? Maybe. But it’s true! We went to the movies a lot and coffee and all that, but I had a boyfriend at the time, and then probably six months after the boyfriend and I broke up, my now-husband and I “hooked up” as the kids say these days. Anyway, yes, I dated, and it was pretty fun for a while, but I’m glad I’m not doing it now. I’d have no idea how to start, since it seems like everyone meets people via apps or online.

    1. You might have dated other people before you met your husband but how you two became a couple sounds like the most “non-date” experience to me… you were friends before you both realized that you were more. No dating required :)

  9. I’m kind of like you, San- i’ve had three major relationships and they all just kind of happened without formal “dating.” Dating nowadays sounds like going through a series of job interviews- I don’t think I would like it. But what do I know, since I never really dated the old fashioned way either?

    1. I am glad to hear from others that “official” dating is still not required to find a life partner. I do realize that there seems to be a lot of luck involved.

  10. Very interesting topic to think about!! Gosh, I can’t really imagine having to go back to dating. I never did any formal dating really either, like where you meet someone and go out on a “first date” and then have to follow up, etc. My past relationships, which really I had 2 longer ones before my husband, were also people I kind of morphed into relationships with. I think I would find it all very exhausting now. I can’t imagine what it must be like for older widowed people who have been with the same partner for a lifetime to suddenly have to start “dating” in their 70s or beyond! Crazy!

    1. I am glad to hear from you – and some other Americans – that formal dating doesn’t have to be all end all to getting coupled up. Sometimes people just morph into relationships and that is beautiful.

  11. I am mostly ignorant like you. I met my husband 20 years ago at a mutual friends birthday party. I think we never really did what any of my American friends would describe as dating. My two previous long term boyfriends I met at the club everyone would hang out at and we just started chatting. I am glad it happened so naturally. I tried a blind date one time but that was so horrible that I decided to never do it again. I am curious to see how it is going to work out for my kids but I am very much hoping we have a couple more years without the heartache of first love.

    1. You’re right – I’d be curious too how things will work out for your kids (or my niece and nephew) when it comes to dating in the modern world.

  12. I was ignorant like you, but we now have a number of single friends doing the online dating thing. Whenever it comes up in conversation I’m happy that I don’t need to engage in it.

    1. I guess you’re in the lucky position to just hear the “funny” dating stories from others.

  13. My daughter is a young adult and the only real dates she has been on were through dating apps. I find the entire thing depressing and horrible for one’s self esteem. I’m going to go read Stephany’s post now and see what the rules are. Ugh.

    1. I do not envy your daughter, but I do hope she can navigate this new reality that young people find themselves in.

  14. Oh yes, I definitely dated and found it completely exhausting and kind of depressing. I had long stretches of being single in my 20s and early early 30s because it was just so much work and so defeating. I went on a lot of first dates but not many second dates because I rarely connected with the person and knew we weren’t a match. I had taken a long break from dating before I met Phil. And then I told my closest girlfriends that if I hadn’t met someone organically by the end of the summer, I would set up a dating profile on okcupid. We met in September at a friend’s house and they helped me write it out and then around that time a girl I knew in college sent me a message over linkedin saying she had a coworker she wanted to set me up with if I was single. So I went on a handful of dates in September, then had a first (blind) date with Phil – and then deactivated my profile when I got home from that date with Phil! We had a bumpy road to engagement because of my Charlotte move/him losing his dad, but it all worked out in the end. Thank. God. If, God forbid, something happened to Phil, I am confident I would not remarry. It is just so much work to meet someone and I had gotten to a point where I was really happy on my own before meeting Phil. I just can not stomach the thought of dating again. One thing that was super frustrating for me was that some of my married friends kind of romanticized dating and wanted to hear all about it and would say how it seemed fun. But it so isn’t and I would have gladly traded the “thrill” of dating for a stable, long-term relationship!

  15. Dating is so exhausting! Honestly, I am at the point where I’m just DONE with the apps and will see if I meet someone organically and if not, I’m okay with that, too. It’s just so much work and it DOES feel like applying for a job. And these days, people have so many different options so finding someone who is serious about the process is really, really hard.

    Be very thankful you found Jon when you did, and don’t have to deal with the awfulness of dating apps. (Do I sound really fed up with dating? HA.)

  16. San, we are about the same age (maybe even the same age?) and I never really dated, either, with the exception of one person in college for a few months. I still went to all the HS dances – it was what you “did” in the 90s – but I went with a good friend. We always had fun together but there was never anything romantic (good thing, because he’s been happily married to his husband for several years now :>). And now, although I am single, I am solidly in the “not going to date” group. I’m just… not. I don’t feel the need to navigate the insanity of dating in the 2020s, and really just prefer my life on my own.
    I love your belief that if we have a person, we will meet that person eventually. :)

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