Friday, February 27, 2009

A reader asks: What happened to casual dating?

Alicia: Today, we pose a question: If the object of your attraction states at the first date that he/she isn't interested in a commitment, do you stick around? We ask because a reader wonders:

"What about women wanting a commitment when men state from the start they do not want one? Usually men and women do want to date, but want to casually -- this does not always mean that sex is involved. I’ve noticed it’s more prevalent in these parts that if you want to casually date, and say that at the beginning, women are up for it at first, but after three dates or so they are pressing you for some sort of commitment. What about keeping your options open? Men and women, at least this gives us something to compare, and to see who's personality or vibe is a better fit. I do think it would have both sexes thinking and looking more inward."

Deirdre: It's been said that people tell you exactly who they are when you first meet them. It's just a matter of if you choose to hear them or not. I think in a lot of cases, people turn a deaf ear to news that the person they want a relationship with is not interested in a relationship with anyone.

Alicia: Someone who says "no commitment" at the outset is closing off possibilities that haven't even opened up. Doesn't seem like someone I'd want to hang with romantically or otherwise.

Deirdre: I don't know. I think I might. I'm not looking for a relationship either, and it would be fun and freeing to hang out with someone with no strings attached. But what if I become attached?

Alicia: That's always the danger, isn't it? And isn't someone who says he's not looking for a commitment at the outset daring you not to care? I'd be headed for a lot of hurt.

And how many people have we known who have dated a commitmentphobe thinking that person would change their mind?

Alicia: I know I've broken up with a few ...

And the reader's point about why we have to make a decision after the third date -- I say: not everyone does. But the majority of women in America do want to partner up and have kids. The clocking is ticking on their eggs. Also, in general people's time is limited. They often date with a purpose now.

Alicia: That's true. Do you agree with his opinion that the expectations seem to be higher in our area than in others? I've found that it doesn't matter where you live, more people in the dating way want commitment than don't. Or maybe it's just the people I know.

Deirdre: Like a friend of mine recently said: "Women in different regions are just different kinds of crazy." That goes for men, too. It just seems hard where you are because that's where you are.

Alicia: Geographically and emotionally.

Deirdre: Also, the reader's mention of sex -- is it even possible to make it to the third date without at least a trip to third base? When I say I'd rather not kiss on the first date, people look at me like I'm a nun. There's an assumption of physical intimacy these days that makes a person suspect if they enjoy someone's company without swapping bodily fluids.

Alicia: And that's a whole other level of entanglement.

Deirdre: So, yeah, for a lot of people plenty is riding on those early dates. If it was ever a "casual" pastime, it certainly isn't now.


Anonymous said...

The trick to "committment" is this. There's just a BUNCH of stuff that goes along with integrating two lives. Gets more complicated when exes and kids are involved also. 4 or 5 weeks just aint enough time to decide about all the intricacies of two people and their respective baggage. I'm dating a wonderful woman now. I tend to be a serial monogamist. It's taken 9 months though to consider all the consequences good and bad of being a "couple" and become more "commmitted". I'm not even talking marriage.

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of it has to do with regional culture. I've lived in the Northwest, California, and New York, and I have to say that I've never met so many people who are either serial monogamists, or hell bent on settling down as I have here in Charlotte. People need to lighten up and realize that life isn't a race to the finish.

Anonymous said...

"...and I have to say that I've never met so many people who are either serial monogamists, or hell bent on settling down as I have here in Charlotte. People need to lighten up and realize that life isn't a race to the finish."

How you doin'?

Anonymous said...

If you have no friends of the opposite gender...People with whom you "do lunch" or see an occasional movie, or whatever without considering mating, then you are missing a large slice of life and you have a distorted view of society. Perhaps that is why so many marriages fail.

Anonymous said...

My dear friend is in her early 40s. She will come right out and tell a man that she wants to have children. She "engages" men that she thinks have "good genes" (whatever that means!) and "goes for the gold".....
Then she wonders why they don't stick around!

Anonymous said...

I think that, in general, women are much quicker than men to want to have a committed relationship. It is not that men don't want to eventually commit to a serious, exclusive relationship, but we usually can't figure out how in the heck a woman who has spent three evenings with us has any clue as to whether we are really a good match worthy of excluding the rest of the world from consideration. Guys certainly can't figure that out in 3 dates, but maybe we just are not nearly as perceptive as women. Some guys, however, really don't want to ever commit. If I were just starting to date someone, I might well say that I'm not looking for a committed relationship early on, but that my goal is to be in a committed relationship with the right woman.

Anonymous said...

If either party does not want a "commitment" and the other does, then it is time to part ways. There is no sense in sticking with someone who does not share your priorities. It's neither right or wrong, good or bad - it is just a matter of timing.

From ME 2 You said...

i am a male that says that i'm not looking for a committment at the begining saying that only b/c i do want to find the right one. I would tell that to someone new letting them know that me dating does not mean only dating them and that i may not be the one they want. So saying NO COMMITTMENT kinda slows things down befor they speed up. Dating and spending time w/ a person my "no committment" could turn to "hey, i'm starting to catch a feeling or two....." so time will tell i would say. By the way I'M SINGLE AND LOOKIN' :)

Anonymous said...

I think everyone's missing something here and that's the perception of someone saying they're 'not looking for a commitment.' If I hear a guy say that, I assume he's looking for 'sex with no strings' which if you didn't already know, doesn't exist. I assume the guy probably sleeps around and has something that I don't want to catch. It's repulsive. If you really have good intentions, find another way to communicate them.

The Relationship Company said...

My pleasure to come across your blog and read it, keep posting.