Clarity

The cross-post of Toxicity over at OkBloggy dredged up a familiar phenomenon. Whenever I touch on the subjects I mentioned in that post, either here or in person, a lot of people seem to read it as my asking for a manual on precisely what steps to follow, like those ads that occasionally make it through my blocker on “How to get any woman to sleep with you in less than 60 seconds!”.  I assume I’m phrasing something poorly, because people think this often enough often enough that the only common factor here is me.

If anyone has gotten the same read from that post or other things that I’ve said, I’d appreciate if you could let me know what gave you that impression. I think this is a subject that could use more daylight than it gets, at least in the regions of cyberspace that are populated by the sane, the nontraditional, and the non-gender-normative.  It’s not so much that there should be more volume of discussion about dating, whoa nelly, there’s plenty going on.

What I’m really suggesting is that there should be a sort of pool of information like what one gets when one goes looking for job-hunting advice, or info on how to write well.  These are open-ended questions, and each article or interview is its own animal, just like a “date” is.  But there is useful general advice, and there is info on how to get started if you’ve never done it before.  There’s an understanding that it’s possible or even likely for someone to reach adulthood without knowing what to do, even if one could theoretically derive it all with sufficient application of sense.  And people are sympathetic to the idea that some of us need more help than others.

It just feels like there isn’t a similarly sympathetic and charitable place for advice about… whatever it is I’m asking for there to be advice about.  I’m not even sure “dating” is the word, or “advice”, and I’m not sure I’m asking for myself any more.  I’m just sure there are other folks in the situation that my 28-year-old self was in who could really, legitimately use some help.

There seems to be a sort of stigma attached to even admitting that you’d like to date more.  OkCupid is full of self-conscious statements like “I don’t know why I’m on here” or “I’m just looking for friends and we’ll see where things go from there”.  It feels of a piece with self-conscious assertions that polyamory is not about sex, although perhaps less reflexively sex-negative.  It still formulates the state of not currently seeing as many people as (or more people than) you’d really like to as if it were something you shouldn’t be in.  There’s something wrong with it.  It makes it into something you have to admit to, by demonstrating how unwilling people are to say so.

*shrug*

Hi, my name’s Nick, and I’d like to date more.

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8 thoughts on “Clarity

  1. I didn’t ever get that idea, just because I’d taken it for granted that a “How to get a partner” tutorial akin to a “How to root your droid” tutorial would be absurd, and that you generally don’t say absurd things in earnest.

    ——–

    A guess re: the dearth of information: Women (on average–certainly not me) are better with the nonverbal communication / social signaling schtick than the “average man.” Women and men are equally likely to be articulate about their observations. Women tend to be on the internet less than men, and if we go with the wikipedia-contributor gender ratio, for some reason, are less likely to write tomes about the stuff inside their head for the interwebs to bicker over / marvel at.

    Women, even more than men, aren’t allowed to admit that they’re searching for someone. Men, on the other hand, are pushed by cultural conditioning towards objectifying partners. People, once they find someone they really like (not just someone whom they see as prey / a trophy), usually stop going to the places where they used to talk about not having a *friend.

    So the internet is mostly filled with men (and some women) who are not successful or partially successful at “getting dates,” speculating and trying to piece together the “B after A, B because of A?” that they accumulate. Because it’s mostly men, there is less “nonverbal communication / social signaling” spidey sense backing the advice-giving, and more objectification / objectionable stuff, etc.

    There are both the gender factor and the non-success factor here. I know I draw heavily on gender and cultural stereotypes, but I think the grains of truth preserve some validity in this suggestion.

    ——–

    Finally, I’m uncomfortable with the word “dating.” It means too many things that are very different from one another: I think some people mean it as “meet intermittently, in a get-to-know-you-way”; other people mean it as “We’ve been bffs for 3 years and s/he finally made a move so now we hold hands in public,” etc. It implies temporariness for some and permanence for others.

    So I can’t say that I want to “date” more. Maybe “date” can be expanded to “attract people who are equally eager to pursue interests in sex, romance, and companionship.”

  2. There are both the gender factor and the non-success factor here. I know I draw heavily on gender and cultural stereotypes, but I think the grains of truth preserve some validity in this suggestion.

    I don’t have any serious objections to the gender-typing you’re doing in this post, given that a) it’s phrased as a tendency rather than a given and b) you’re not saying something like “women are hardwired for intuition because it gave them an evolutionary advantage when they were cooking the mammoth meat” or something. I think it’s an open question how many gender-tendencies are built in and how many are socialized in, but for our purposes (speaking about romanticosexual interactions at this moment in time), the source is irrelevant.

    And I think those are some potentially trenchant observations. Much of the content on the web is produced by socially awkward young men, and it’s easy to set up an echo chamber where noxious ideas about the women who they’re not dating become accepted.

    Finally, I’m uncomfortable with the word “dating.” It means too many things that are very different from one another …
    So I can’t say that I want to “date” more. Maybe “date” can be expanded to “attract people who are equally eager to pursue interests in sex, romance, and companionship.”

    I hear this a lot, especially from Carrie. We’ve had several arguments that boiled down to her thinking that I meant 1950s-style burger-and-a-soda-pop courtship when I said “dating”, when I really just mean it as a catchall term for everything involved in sex and romance and such. Maybe this is room for another post, where I can bleg for a better term. I’m not willing to say “attract people who are equally eager to pursue interests in sex, romance, and companionship” every time that I need to address this subject.

  3. Haha, yes, because as I see it, you’ve posted about an hour and a half in the future (I’m not ready for it to be afternoon yet!)

  4. Apparently, it won’t update old timestamps, but the new ones should be using Eastern time. I know that doesn’t help you much.

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