Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Post-Dating World

There's one more issue discussed in Marrying Anita that made me nod in recognition. We can put men on the moon, Anita Jain says, but we can't figure out some consistent way to meet people for matrimonial purposes. I have heard (this is me talking) that we are so technologically advanced that we really only need to work for 2 hours a week. But apparently, since some critical mass of people insists on working for 40 or more, the rest of us have little choice but to do the same. Dating, like the 40-hour week, should be obsolete, but it isn't. Jain talked with some nostalgia about arranged marriages, which still occur in India. However, as an American, no one I know of has had an arranged marriage since my dad's grandparents. I doubt they'll be coming back in any great force. As frustrated as you might be with your job, you're probably not going to take up sustenance farming.

As a teenager, I always thought traditional dating existed, but apart from my own experience. I'm kind of sure that some sort of dating went on at my high school, but I was too busy studying and trying to get into college to really notice. I always assumed that in college, I would be able to find some other eligible bachelors to date. However, NO ONE DATED. I felt cheated when I discovered this. People would "hook up", which would sometimes lead to a romantic relationship. Obviously, I never hooked up with anyone, so my half-hearted desires for a boyfriend were never realized. Then I got to the "real world", which is where dating would finally happen. Or is it? Dating still seems as removed from me as it did in high school. I have no idea how it works. But I believe that no one else knows, either. That's why I get frustrated at books like He's Just Not That Into You. They assume we're still dating, but I'm pretty sure we've moved on to post-dating. From where I sit, there are no rules anymore.

One thing I actually miss about living in a rural town is the lack of choices available. In some ways, it made life easier, and I think that's why arranged marriages can seem attractive. It seems like our choices today in America have multiplied much faster than our ability to deal with them. How much time have we spent looking at 20 kinds of soymilk (okay, maybe that's just me), 50 different kinds of jeans, 500 kinds of wine? It's not a novel idea, but maybe asexuality is the new arranged marriage. Maybe having our dating choices cut way down from the get-go is a blessing in disguise. But then there's the issue of combing through huge groups of people to find the ones with little or no sex drive. Men on the moon, and we can't figure out a way to do this? Maybe the thing is that we want love to be spontaneous and serendipitous. We want, to use Roger Ebert's phrase, meet cutes. But at the same time, it sucks to be disappointed when we can't accomplish this. To quote a visionary of the 2-hour workweek, "We could be living in an earthly paradise by now". But it seems like our conflicting desires (for serendipity AND stability) stand in our own way. According to the philosopher Schopenhauer, if we were able to find our lovers with no trouble on our parts, we would be so bored that we'd kill ourselves. I don't know if I'd go that far, but it begs the question: Is the convolution of dating, or post-dating, something we can ever get past? Or are we somehow hardwired to keep confusing ourselves?

15 comments:

Janet S. said...

My mom told me that when she was young, college existed for the sole purpose of meeting bachelors. She said that many girls would attend college until they met a man. Their alternative was to finish college and face the hardship of supporting themselves. My mom keeps insisting that my siblings and I were supposed to meet a romantic partner at college, but I agree with you. Dating doesn't happen in college. So I have no other option than to look like an idiot whilst I try to figure out how to properly date. I'm not looking forward to the next five or ten years.

Ily said...

I've heard of that-- the MRS degree, right? When I got to college, it was known that people at my school tended to marry each other at fairly high rates. I vowed to myself that I would never be so insular as to marry another person from Whitman. I guess it could still happen, but it's not very likely.
I think that if you DON'T feel kind of awkward about dating, you are probably way too cocky.

Isaac said...

As far as I know, college is really expensive in the USA. Isn't it too expensive of being a mating agency? Moreover if nobody joins potentially good couples or the male part is not granted to be in the business.

rwilson04 said...

Dating existed at my college, but you are right about the lack of rules. I had similar notions about dating, there used to be rules about the guy initiating things, but being asked out, as a guy, just felt weird. Then I went out to the "real world" and discovered what you did, traditional dating either doesn't exist, or is hiding really well.

Ily said...

Yeah, college is really expensive now. In our parents' day, it was relatively cheaper-- the inflation of tuition has been out of control. You can't study ALL the time though...

Isaac said...

Contrary to Europe?! In Spain tuition costs around 500€ and in France is free.

Ily said...

I don't think it was ever that cheap here, but I think that you could once go to college for a few thousand dollars. True, that would translate to more money now. But, a private college here can easily cost you $100,000, which is a lot more than normal inflation would account for. I think a public school here would be in the neighborhood of $10-30,000. A lot of schools give scholarships, but it's really not enough.

Isaac said...

Wow! 20000$ yearly or the adding up until graduation? An expensive fee for a not sure husband. For this money you can pay degree and master for four children! And taking in account that here the prestigious universities are the public ones. In private colleges one purchases a degree, and employers are aware of this.

Ily said...

Those numbers would be all your tuition for 4 years. That's funny about public vs. private schools. Here, the private schools are usually more prestigious (Harvard, Stanford, etc).

Isaac said...

These 500€ are yearly, but the gap is huge anyway. Consider that our public universities were (without exaggeration) the first universities in the world, or splits of them, and they had nonstop teaching since their foundation in Late Middle Ages.

Lydia (Jessica) said...

When I was in college about five years back or so, I most definitely dated. I would not hook up with anyone, so if a boy wanted to be in a romantic relationship with me, he had to date. Of course, I only dated about one guy, all told, and we became romantically (but not sexually) involved and exclusive, a couple, boyfriend and girlfriend. Eventually we broke up, sadly.

Once out of college, I moved to NYC, and here I've recently dated a guy, and now we're a couple.

So dating definitely happens. Just maybe only to those who want to date, as opposed to vaguely hooking up or whatever.

Carolyn said...

That's a really good point. I think we haven't yet mastered the pairing up thing because it's like the evolution of cleaning. We have technology to clean more efficiently but instead of cleaning taking less time it takes more because now we can clean to the microscopic level we weren't even aware of back in the day. Now we demand "true love" and complete fulfilment of a partner, it used to be much simpler.

Suzy said...

Wow. This is so my life. I went to an all girls school growing up so I always figured that dating and boyfriends would somehow magically happen when I went to university. Unfortunately all my friends were girls, most of the people doing my course were girls and I somehow managed to get through my entire higher education experience without speaking more than a few words to anyone of the male persuasion. So then I figured - working - must be some eligible bachelors there. Nope. Not there either.
Is traditional dating out there? I'm so not cool with the modern trend of 'hooking up'. My last ditch effort was internet dating. Major Waste of Time. I want to be a part of a sweet, romantic story where I'm sitting in a quirky coffee shop and an intelligent, sensitive yet manly, gentlemanly hottie must sit in the only seat left - next to me. Conversation ensues. He turns out to be the man of my dreams and so on and so forth. So far it hasn't happened but I live in hope.

University said...

In most cases when a senior dates a freshman, it’s for all the wrong reasons. If the senior is over the age of 18 and something sexual transpires between the two of you that’s grounds for statutory rape. I personally wouldn’t date a freshman or as a freshman date a senior. It’s up to you though so good luck.college videos

Isaac said...

University, how young people attend college or how elevated is the age of consent in your country? I think that one must have followed an accelerated spacial curriculum in order to enter college before their age of consent.