June 28, 2016

The New Dating Rules & Why I Refuse to Play by Them.

Flickr/Ian Burt

I’m blown away by all the new terms that exist for dating.

There’s “ghosting,” which happens when someone we’re dating just disappears from our lives and refuses to respond to email, text messages or any social media communication. There is no conversation, ending or closure. Ghosting just means gone—but then we’re left haunted by it.

There’s “hoovering,” which happens when a former relationship tries to suck us back into their negative vortex. I only recently learned about this one, but haven’t we all experienced this?

Apparently, you can be “zombied” now too. This happens when someone is gone from our lives for a long time, but then suddenly pops back into it to “check on us.” However, we know it’s because that “something new” they went chasing didn’t work out after all.

Then there’s the newest term I learned, known as “benching.” We know we’ve been benched when we’re dating someone who only calls us when something better isn’t on offer. This person isn’t trying to get us to update our relationship status; no, we’re just riding the bench, waiting for a chance to play.

There you have it—“Dating for Dummies” summed up in four terms: ghosting, hovering, zombie-ing and benching.

I just want to know: Is there “Intuition for the Intelligent?” Or “Courting for the Classy?” I don’t care what term we give it, but I’d like to see a trend of terms that describes an honest dating culture. I want a dating culture where we listen to our intuition, try to meaningfully connect with other people and are honest when it’s just not working for us.

Wouldn’t it be a novel experience to date without the artifice? We could be completely upfront about who we are, without trying to hide our true selves for a later time. If there’s no chemistry or we run across a deal breaker, we could just have a conversation, leading with kindness rather than running in cowardice.

I’ve started being completely authentic in my dating life. I’ve stopped trying to impress my dates and have turned my attention instead to connecting with them. I’ve decided that it’s better to know upfront if the person I’m seeing is even capable or interested in a relationship with me, and it saves so much time to just be honest. This is who I am. This is what I want.

Besides, my writing is public. An interested party could learn a lot about who I am just from reading my work. Why hide it? Why hide one single part of who I really am? Because I like who I am—and I want the person I’m with to be crazy about me for me, not for some idea of me or some version of me they hope I’ll change into one day.

Wouldn’t we all revolutionize the dating game if we were more interested in connecting rather than conquering—if our focus changed from impressing to just being present?

I’m not interested in ghosting or being ghosted. I’m not interested in any of the dishonesty that seems standard in the dating environment. And I don’t want a permanently undefined relationship. I’m all about assertiveness and open communication. I’m about connection and kindness and honesty.

We can learn a lot from connecting with others, whether we choose to engage in a relationship with those people or not. We can take the time to genuinely be interested in their story and learn something from the experience. Perhaps if there’s chemistry with that connection, it could lead to something more.

But I feel that those of us who have grown tired and disgusted with the current culture of dating have a responsibility to be the ones to change it.

So we don’t play by the rules any longer. We don’t wait to text you back in exactly the number of minutes that went by before you responded. And we don’t wait to call you if we want to talk. Hell, if we’re interested, we ask you out on a date (no, not to “hang out”). We don’t try to hide our interest, and if we feel like this has the potential to be a relationship, we talk about that. We’re not just going to sit around in an undefined state for six months wondering if we’re actually in one.

We’re not doing any of the things that you’ve come to expect from dating. We won’t bench you if we don’t want you, because we know that’s unkind to let you think that one day we might change our minds, when we know we won’t. And we won’t ghost you if it’s not working out, because we’re mature and capable of conversation. If we come back into your life, this is not a zombie occurrence; we genuinely care about how you’re doing. And we won’t be hoovered back into a situation that we know isn’t healthy for us. Nor will we try to hoover someone back into a relationship that isn’t healthy for them.

No, we won’t play by those rules any longer. We don’t care about your “Dating for Dummies” or whatever you want to call this new way of interacting. Because we’re changing the game, one interaction at a time.

No one else is going to change the dating game for us. It’s up to us now.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: Flickr/Ian Burt

Editors: Yoli Ramazzina; Travis May

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