I am not a fan of dating.
There, I said it. Scoff, gasp, puke or faint. Do what you must, but I am Too XYZ for what most people think of when they hear "dating".
Not to be confused with Dating, with a capital "D", which, for our purposes, will refer to a serious, committed relationship. I have had those. And I have also had some ill advised superficial relationships. But more on those in a moment.
But I don't date. And although for some it serves the most basic human need outside of getting something to eat, I struggle with finding the logic in it.
Even when I was a teenager, when I was supposed to be desperately motivated to do it, I wasn't. Sure there were times I wanted a girlfriend when I did not have one. And like anybody that age, my teen awkwardness and shyness certainly played a part. But I just didn't have it in me to put forth too great an effort in overcoming those things because even then it made no sense.
You encounter a total stranger that your body finds attractive. You approach them, to talk them up, and hopefully, after deciphering something approximately as complex as the Da Vinci Code, you get their number, or, go straight to the guts, and ask them if they would like to "get some coffee" sometime.
Let's suppose they say yes. Let's also suppose that you are a bit classier than "one night stand" antics. So you do in fact mean a date.
This is exciting. And you think about this all week, as you buy new clothes, get a haircut, do whatever, hoping to put your best foot forward.
The day arrives, and you meet her. She looks just as done up as you do. You order, and you talk to one another. It's casual at first. It goes well. Then, if you are lucky, before the date is over you somehow come to realize that you both stand on the opposite side of the political fence, and can't stand each other's views. You thank each other, say you will call one another to be polite, but you never will, and the whole thing ends up a story she will send in to the "Bad Date" page in Vogue or whatever.
It doesn't get you down too long though. You need to go home, and freshen up, because you are meeting another stranger at the movies later that evening after she gets off of work.
And if that doesn't work out well, or hell even if it does, that is what next weekend is for. There is a whole world of people out there to ask out. How exciting!
"Now, now," the conventional wisdom, (not to mention my friends over the years) will tell me. "Dating is all about having fun, and getting to know each other better. How are you ever going to know who you want to spend your life with if you don't go out there and date a lot? You've got to find out these things! And even if it doesn't work, you'll have a great time meeting all kinds of new people."
Yeah, right. I'm an introverted writer and actor. I haven't the slightest desire to meet "new" people. I am still dealing with the shit from the people I already know.
Okay, I exaggerate. (A little.) But remember those relationships of mine that I told you about? Good, bad, indifferent, boring, deep, or superficial, almost all of them had one thing in common;
We never "dated". We already knew one another somehow. Maybe not very well, but there was a connection already established before we made the decision to "evolve" things. Or they just evolved on their own without a specific decision, if you catch me.
The point is, there have been all kinds of ways I have gotten to know someone, and to at least be friends with them first. Plays. Mutual friends. Once or twice in my life, the internet. But I knew them first. And because I am not into "one night stands", I feel I need to at least be acquaintances, if not friends, before I can develop feelings for someone.
I don't know if I have ever been "in love". Maybe. But I can tell you that if I was, I was friends with her first. I don't take women I barely know out to coffee over and over again to wait and see if that will happen.
And that is just it. "Dating" is about seeing if there is any proverbial spark. But like my story with the woman and the political views, that is an awful lot for me to go through, only to be derailed once something as clear as, oh I don't know, her religion comes up. If I have worked with somebody, or better yet, been friends with them a while, I already know what their fundamental make up is. I may not have intimate knowledge of everything that makes them tick, but I do know their personality. Their attitude. Some of their preferences and view points. What it feels like to be around them. Those are the things that, to me, would take years of "getting coffee" to establish. I should live so long.
They say you can't ever fall in love with "friends". That once you have established yourself as a woman's friend, (or a man's), that it is impossible to successfully fall in love with them. That romance must spring forth from actions that were taken based upon a first meeting's animal lust, and allowed to evolve from there, in order for a real passion to develop. "That's the way it's done."
Oh really? Check the divorce rate in this country for me when you are done pontificating, will you, Dr. Phil?
Not that I can prove a direct correlation, of course. But for my money, I am not going to let some initial attraction to somebody motivate me into playing some kind of game of "get the number", so that I can get all nervous, drain all of my arts-guy personal energy on meeting someone new, all in the hope that from Coffee Number One, an electricity will be present, which one day will lead her to becoming the mother of my children.
Even casual knowledge of the everyday, NON-dating persona of someone, (and boy is there a difference) can help save everybody a lot of heartache and time.
To be fair, I am the same way with just making friends. I don't go out and "make friends". Again, as an introvert, the very concept of making a choice to go somewhere and "make new friends" almost makes me break out in hives. Friendship for me, like any relationship, develops as a result of exposure to the same things and experiences. Through conversation, and a bit of effort. It takes, above all things, time.
And time seems to be of the essence for people who are "dating".
And lord, please don't even get me started on "speed dating". I'll have a stroke.