Monday January 14, 2013
The dating game
BUT THEN AGAIN
By MARY SCHNEIDER
Dating can be a nerve-wracking experience, at any age.
THERE are several things in life that are now well behind me. For example, I will never again squeeze into a pair of size eight jeans; or have to buy a pregnancy test kit; or be able to drink copious amounts of alcohol without falling asleep; or wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini – of any colour; or go on a date. Of these five activities, the moratorium on dating bothers me the least.
I’m currently in a happy, long-term relationship, but if my partner were to run off with an air hostess, expire in his sleep, or decide that I was no longer alluring enough, exciting enough, or sex-kitten enough for him, I wouldn’t advertise the vacancy caused by his departure. Instead, I would close shop and embrace my singleness.
It’s not that I especially relish the thought of living out the rest of my days on my own. I enjoy being intimate and sharing my life with someone, but the pursuit of another significant other (after a suitable period of crying and self-flagellation, of course) would be tough. Indeed, I suspect at fifty-something that I’m all dated-out.
Let’s face it, dating is a game. And the way some people play it, it’s a wonder that any of us hook up with a suitable life partner in the first place.
What I dislike most about the early phase of dating is the uncertainty that a simple parting phrase like “I’ll see you around, then!” can generate at the end of a date.
What exactly does “I’ll see you around, then!” mean? Around where? Gurney Plaza? Jalan Ampang? Taman Negara?
I’ll tell you what it means. It means that the man is thinking: “Tonight wasn’t the earth-moving experience that I thought it would be and if we meet again, it will only be by accident.”
It’s much kinder and certainly more polite just to say thank you for the date, and then leave it at that. Don’t say it was great if it wasn’t. Focus on something honest but positive, such as, “It’s so cute how your dress matches your eyes.”
Warning: Make sure your date’s not wearing a red, yellow or orange dress when you make such a comment.
We’re told that it’s not cool to appear too eager, too soon – otherwise your date might have visions of you stalking him/her like a needy nutcase. This causes many people to act nonchalant, even when they’re feeling otherwise, which often gives rise to another parting comment: “I’ll be in touch!”
I dislike this as much as the “I’ll see you around, then!” comment. I like to know when my date will be in touch.
Although dating etiquette has changed since I was a young woman, many women and men still think that it’s a man’s job to initiate second and subsequent dates – at least until a relationship has been established. However, some men seem oblivious to the fact that when a woman is interested in a man, she will often restructure entire routines, just so she’ll be able to answer her phone as soon as it rings. She might even keep her phone on during a flight, jamming vital communication channels and causing the plane to crash when it approaches the wrong runway by mistake.
Likewise, if a family member is on life-support, she will risk having the breathing equipment malfunction just so she can monitor her phone’s activity from the hospital bedside.
I don’t want to be that sort of person.
I once knew a woman who attached a 10-metre extension cord to her telephone (this was in the good, old days before the advent of cordless telephones) and would even drag the thing into the bathroom with her, just in case she missed a call from her date. She would shower with a trickle of water and refused to use her vacuum cleaner (too noisy) during the fortnight that it took for her to come to her senses and realise that the object of her desires was never “going to be in touch”.
And don’t get me started on people who pretend they like the same things their date likes, just to impress him/her. You’ll see these people 20 years from now yawning through Madam Butterfly, or pretending to enjoy sushi when they hate raw fish, or taking a hiking holiday every year when they’d much rather be sitting by a pool with a good book.
Paradoxically, that “getting to know you” phase is probably the time when some people come to the wrong conclusion about their date’s habits, likes and dislikes.
I’m getting too old for such games.