I know that there’s a book called The Rules, but the real truth about dating is that there aren’t any. And over the next eight weeks in my guest column here at Bitch, I plan to explore why that is, and maybe why that’s a good thing. But if you want to snag the kind of dude that wants the kind of relationship described in that book with the kind of woman who would play those games in order to “win” at the dating game, then go do that. This column isn’t for you.
The truth of the matter is that, if you view dating as a competition, then you’re far more likely to lose than to win. Games are zero-sum by their very nature, consisting of winners and losers. But the more you put yourself in competition with those around you for partners, the more you get invested in winning rather than finding out whether a specific person is right for you, or whether being in a relationship is right for you. And that, after all, should be the end result of dating: figure out what is right for you, who is right for you and for whom you are right.
Now, I’m not totally sure everyone (or anyone, if I’m being honest) should listen to my advice on dating: after all, I’ve been doing it for 18 years with admittedly intermittent success. I’m not into poofy white dresses, religious or civil ceremonies by which some god or some state signs off on my relationship, pleasing either of my parents with my relationship choices or even necessarily being in a long-term, monogamous heteronormative relationship with just anyone. If those are things that are really important to you—more important, than, say the specific person (or people) with whom you’re in some kind of relationship that works for you all—then I’m not sure I’ve got a lot of thoughts that will help you. As I’ve previously written, I believe that you can often be better off alone—and being in a relationship with a great partner doesn’t change that belief of mine. So if you’re looking for answers about how to find a partner, full stop, take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Sometimes, doing what is right for you won’t result in having someone specific to share your awesomeness with—and quite often, that might well be (as Mary J. said) just fine.
But if like many people you’re not sure what the fuck you’re doing when it comes to dating, why sometimes it feels like more effort than it’s worth and whether there are other people like you out there who think dating is fraught, confusing, weird, unnatural and designed to achieve an end result with which you’re not sure you’re comfortable, then join me here for the next few weeks and let’s talk.
I’ll be talking to other people, too—because my experience at dating is certainly limited by my race, class, sexual orientation and gender identity (to name a few things), but that doesn’t mean dating is limited or has ever been limited to people with my background or experiences.
And if you have questions or topics you’d like to see addressed, leave a comment below or Tweet at me.
Image via ~BostonBill~ on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons