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or maybe we could go somewhere and eat a bunch of caramels

after the post-modernist revelation that was my blog from last night, i figured i would maybe write something ever-so-slightly more concrete.

i have a lot of friends expressing various degrees of angst about the dating world lately.  i have my own general gripes as well, but in recent days, i’ve had a lot of people coming to me, teeth gritted, slightly growly, going off on how they don’t understand this, that, or the other,  so i thought i would maybe try to boil some of that down into word soup.  better yet, a nice, reduced stock word demi-glace.   some of this is my own confusion, but most of that is just barely sprinkled in amongst the recent traumas of my social circle.  so on that lovely note, chew on some parsley, and bon apetit.

oddly enough, the main complaint i’ve heard recently (sometimes from my own mouth) is that no one seems to have a clue what it all means.  are we alone in this confusion?  is there some dating handbook that explains all this ridiculous terminology to the uneducated masses?  if so, i think a lot of us missed the sign-up sheet for the mailing list.  what does it mean to be dating someone versus seeing someone?  when does that magically transform into coupledom?  if the point of dating is to get to know someone, what do you do if you already know that person?

it’s all very confusing.

another major gripe i’ve heard recently has been about games.  and not the tiddlywinks sorts of games, either.   a friend told me earlier today that the guy she likes has been “claimed” by a girl at church.  that word alone made me perk up my ears and twitch an eyebrow.   last weekend, this girl (who is actually a 27-year-old woman, for shame) turned around and informed my friend that she was going to the upcoming dance, and this guy was “taken” — and that my friend would have to “find her own date.”  (the irony of the locale of this exchange shouldn’t escape you)

i sat there in startled shock for a moment before composing my elegant reaction of “?!?!?!?!?!”  followed by  “WHAT.”

really?  she said that?  who says that?  i mean, who beyond the hordes or hormone-induced cattiness that are made up of pubescent pre-teens.  but a 27-year-old woman?  really?  my head is reeling.  are human beings musical chairs now?  “sorry, this one’s taken.”  *smug smile*  it’s about as emotionally mature as saying, “i got there first,” with a “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” thrown in for good measure.

it’s a game.  a nasty game, at that.  she obviously went out of her way to try to get my friend to back off — something rather funny, considering my friend is hardly the type to throw herself at someone.  in addition to this one incident, apparently this girl has also “fake-married” this guy to stake her claim (again, musical chairs…apparently).  to use an internet meme…wtf.  actually, all that merits having it spelled out.  what.  the.  fuck.

maybe the subtleties of the female species elude me.  odd, because, you know.  i am one.  maybe i’m just more direct than most.  i personally think it’s better to just lay my cards on the table rather than slip poison into someone’s martini or bare my claws at the slightest sign of competition.  a lot of my friends are the same way as i am.

are the women who act like that really that insecure?   because to me, that’s what it says.  they see a threat, so they bare their claws and try to make the threat go away, hoping to get a rise out of the competition.  i think it’s probably because they know, on some deeper level, that they’re not going to get what they want.  i suppose sometimes they do get it, but even if the men in question are spared the barbs of these little exchanges, they’re not stupid, and they’ll probably see glimpses of cattiness through the facade.

i think it says an awful lot about the women willing to say something like that to someone, beyond insecurity even.  they obviously don’t feel confident.  but beyond that, they need to win.  farther, it seems to me that they need to put someone else down to feel better about themselves.  no one could tell me words like that wouldn’t sting — so they have to know damn well what they’re doing.

personally, if you have to resort to telling someone to back off like that for absolutely no reason, completely out of the blue, it shows you think the other person is a threat — probably because they sense the other person isn’t that into them.  for me, i don’t want to date anyone who doesn’t want to date me.  which is a mind-bending concept, i know.  but really.  when it becomes only about “winning,” people really start missing the point.  the point being finding someone you connect with who you want to have as a part of your life and be a part of theirs as well.

i’ll be the first to admit i’m not perfect.  i have my hang-ups like everyone else does.  i might be too blunt.  i tend to just blurt things out and then feel really awkward half the time.  but in my memory, i’ve never done anything like that to someone else.  and i wouldn’t.  it’s rather beyond catty and into mean-spirited, i think.  and in my book, that’s just really not okay.

i think it all boils down to communication.  a while back, i wrote a long post on honesty.  i think people are afraid to say what they think, because they’re afraid of getting hurt.  there’s a certain vague comfort in the agony of not knowing.  if you take that step out there on that limb and actually ask for what you want (god forbid) or say how you feel (the horror!), you risk rejection.  which is painful.  and scary.  but ask yourself this — if you like this person that much, first of all, one would hope that they’re worth the risk; second, if they don’t feel the same way, don’t you want to know so you can move on?

all of that said, i just don’t get it. the whole dating world is full of mysterious games and odd rituals.  you go out five times and you’re a couple — or something — at some point it’s “exclusive,” there’s probably sex in there somewhere, and you spend more time asking your friends what the hell is happening or how it’s gonna go than you do talking to the person you’re trying to smush your life together with.  it’s that pesky communication thing again.  no wonder we’re all messy.  there’s a reason we euphemize talking things out as “clearing the air.”

the people who have been coming to me with these stories lately are pretty straightforward people themselves — they’re doing their best to communicate and are running into brick walls right and left.  or, in one case, just minding her own business only to have someone stab her with a salad fork.  like i said, it’s all very confusing.  and apparently violent.  and, as will says in good will hunting, really pretty arbitrary.  it might be a necessary sort of arbitrary; i don’t know.  but to me, all the bizarre and inane dating concepts rather elude my grasp.

so that kind of brings me to say fuck it.  i just want somebody i can go somewhere and eat a bunch of caramels with.

Skylar: Maybe we could go out for coffee sometime?
Will: Great, or maybe we could go somewhere and just eat a bunch of caramels.
Skylar: What?
Will: When you think about it, it’s just as arbitrary as drinking coffee.
Skylar: [laughs] Okay, sounds good.

(quotes from good will hunting)

EDIT:  apparently my friends and i are not alone in our confusion due to dating nomenclature — a quick google search comes up with several confused forums trying to suss it out.  it seems like most people have their own ideas of what the hell everything means.  makes my caramel idea sound pretty good, doesn’t it?  screw the terminology.  i’m just along for the ride.

and just for all of your giggling pleasure, here’s some dating terminology humor.