Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Dating Game

The Dating Game

As the rules change (mostly for the better) some long for old-fashioned romance

My parents were both 16 when they met. They both grew up in downtown Manhattan, mere minutes away. They were married at 21 and had me at 27. When I was 16, I still had a paper route, and at 27 I was still suffering through awkward dates and misfiring relationships. Dating was a lot different in the early 1960s than it is today, even in downtown Manhattan. Or is it?

A decidedly unscientific survey of some Louisvillians - i.e. a few of my friends - found that the courting ritual has, indeed, changed. But the reviews are mixed on whether that's a good thing.

While the awkward first date, with the store-bought bouquet and the "getting to know you" conversation over dinner, still exists, it is being supplanted by less formal forms of connection.

"I've found that most people have friends-of-friends hookups," said Lindsey Dobson, a 28-year-old married artist. "Hang out with a fine lookin' guy you met through a friend, play mind games for a while, and fool around until you figure it out. Don't return his calls if you're not into it and repeat until you find Mr. Right."

For the most part, that works, said April Fultz, a 26-year-old graphic designer who is single. But she admits that traditional dating does have its upsides.

"In my experience you could go hang out, then eventually hook up with someone. It is a good way to get to know who they really are before getting serious," Fultz said. "But it gets messy in the beginning when you can't tell what's a date and what is just a gathering of friends."

As the wooing process evolves, so, too, do the old rules. No sex until the third date? What does that mean if you've never gone on a date?

"Personally, the woman who I'm now married to was courted only briefly - we were married in six months," said musician Justin Schotter-Davis, 27, who, like many people, simply follows his instincts. "For some people, that's what feels natural and right... but I understand if someone needs to engage in a longer dating process in order to feel comfortable with themselves and the person they're with."

Besides, anything you would learn about someone on the first few dates is probably lurking somewhere on the Internet.

"You can get juicy info on anyone these days," Dobson said. "Blogs, MySpace and Facebook have torn down the barrier between public and private space."

People tend to over-romanticize dating anyway, Fultz said.

"Sometimes you can't really get to know a person on a date, though," she said. "Those fancy dates can hide the real modern womanizers."

Tracy Heightchew claims she has never even been on a date. Rather, she relies on that most modern of techniques: networking.

"My life has been marked by serial monogamy with someone I met through friends/work," said Heightchew, the 30-year-old co-founder of the Louisville Film Society. "We would be around each other in social events and eventually figure out we liked each other, then we were in a relationship."

Jessica Faulkner-Cundiff also followed the "friends first" model.

"I tend to appreciate a man with a sense of humor, so I ended up dating people with whom I already had a good rapport," said Faulkner-Cundiff, 22, an administrative assistant and a newlywed. "Come to think of it, I didn't know anyone who dated somebody they didn't know well, or 'hang out' with, beforehand."

But as with most things, you don't miss something until it's gone.

"Call me old-fashioned, but I would actually prefer an old-school first date in which I would be treated like a lady and he would be a gentleman," Dobson said. "I want clear intentions and a bouquet of flowers when he comes to the door, a fancy dinner, and the whole bit. Women are rarely wooed like that these days."

If that makes Mark Butler old-fashioned, then so be it.

"I always tried for formal dates because they impressed girls who were used to guys just doing the hang out/hook up thing," said Butler, a 34-year-old city planner. "I thought I had a better shot of making a good impression with my wit and charm rather than just being a pretty face in the crowd."

Sorry ladies - he's taken.

"I always did the hang out/hook up thing for romantic relationships," said Butler's wife, Carrie, 36, an official with TARC. "The only guy to ever ask me out on a date, pick me up with flowers in hand and take me to dinner and a play was the one I married."


c. 2008 Velocity Weekly


melissa said...

fuck the dating game

lady of ass-emblage said...

beer goggles make dating more fun. oh and ear plugs.