Friday, September 14, 2007

what will future anthropologists say about our love?

i've been taking notes for this post for a week now. instead of gaining some focus about what and how to write i've got pages of ramblings in my notebook. i'm afraid this post my be all over the place and boring. but whatever. you gotta write something.

this post is inspired by natali's post about her friend who got email-dumped months after hanging out with some guy. (i thought email-dumped was a funny thing to write, but obviously that's not what happened since she was already engaged to someone else and that guy was hurt about something and decided to take it out on her.) but the questions i see growing out of this incident (and out of many of the stories related on this blog) is what are the different types of dating, where are the lines of demarcation between different types of dating and what gestures are appropriate within which types of dating?
(on a side note: how come when you save drafts it reduces all your double-spaces after periods to a single-space? i know it's not a big deal, but i really like the look of double-spaces between sentences)

i actually wrote like twenty different questions related to understanding, identifying and negotiating different types of dating, but i'm not going to list them since they're sort of repetitive. they all have to do with the problem of changing feelings within (somewhat) fixed relationship categories, the pressure of fitting personal dating experiences into idealized cultural/historical dating norms including nostalgic dating models that prove ineffectual in the information age (maybe because digital communication changes dating relationships) and the relative fluidity of gender roles which challenge older dating models.

but you get it, right? or maybe not. maybe this is my difficulty with dating: articulating feelings.

so i think our blog (rather than me alone cause i don't know what i'm talking about) could and should workshop this. we'll collectively develop a loose theory on post-modern (mormon) dating. i like the very generic classifications of pre-dating, dating and post-dating. maybe something of a continium like pre-dating -> dating ->post-dating where each category blends into the next (with sometimes post- blending into to pre- in the case of dating someone for a second time). it'll be difficult, but i think we can do it. we'll need to seriously challenge our current notions of dating and get rid of actions and attitude that don't hold to the scrutiny. i mean, if you want to.


natali said...

i think its a great idea brian. i think we should all work on posts along those lines. also i think she kind of did get email dumped. you dont have to be in a relationship to be broken up with. my worst break up ever of all time and i think i may need therapy as a result happened with a boy i never dated. what does it all mean.

Whitney said...

Remember how I said I was going to comment on this post a while ago. I forgot what I was going to say. But I think I probably always have something on this topic.

Because I don't think I'm the only one that thinks that traditional dating has to be the worst crock in the modern world. And suckers do it. Because it all seems built on this Victorian idea of "courtin'" the lady, while also being tangled in a world post women's movement, pre-virtual reality, mid-internet. So there's constantly this pull to copy all your favorite romantic comedies (or just your favorite David Gordon Green movie) that really calls for a much more natural environment than we currently occupy. And thank God, right? Because someone paying for my dinner reminds me of someone paying for my time and that reminds me of being a prostitute. Holding hands is a possession thing to me. No one is going to drive my car but the person insured under it (me). etc etc. And those sorts of problems make tradtion complicated.

So why not throw the whole thing out the window? Because that seems really hard to do mutually. One person always seems down for something a little more progressive, while the other person acts like they are...but aren't, in the long run. And even when two people are down for that, it seems like you probably want to hang onto that kind of a person: which means just friends.

I'm not really talking about varitions on the old theme. I'm talking about throwing the whole thing out. New model. I don't really know what that entails. Right now it's not really working for me.

natali said...

hmm. the problem with switching models, which you touched upon, is the confusion when people initially meet you. they are like oh i am supposed to do this and then you are like no its ok if you do this and they are like i like that too but are you sure you dont really like that and in the end no one knows if they are dating or what they should do and they give up and become pen pals.

whitney said...

As long as you are both really honest about how you feel about each other...and more importantly: as long as you're really candid...don't you think a little confusion in the traditional aspect of things could be alright? Even if you are never sure if you're "dating" or not?

Maybe I'm a little tipsy right now...but everything about about someone calling me, setting something up, me dressing differently, us sitting in an interview type dinner (which he pays for), and then he drives me home...that just sounds really awful. No matter who he is. No matter how good the food is. But it seems like setting things up that way leads to a really traditional pattern, no matter how comfortable you end up getting. It's like those sitcoms when the husbands are trying to bring romance back into the situation with flowers and a date and whatnot. So many people on this blog talk about being uncomfortbale in traditional dating settings, but continue to do it because it's kind of the only way to proceed. Or at least we think so. Maybe that's what's so awesome about the can skip all the tradition, in a good way.

I don't know. I don't date, I just think that a lot of the things written on here are really interesting.

natali said...

yeah. i dont know about all that candid talk in relationships. i always equate honestly talking with breaking up so i try to avoid it.

i am not sure about how everyone feels about traditional dating. but i think its fair to say it doesnt work for everyone. sometimes it takes awhile to realize it doesnt work for you. i think there is a lot of subconscious frustration with it but people just assume they arent doing it right.

whitney said...

Oh yeah, that's a good point. Like, maybe people are uncomfortable with the situations because they don't fit into what they feel (subconsciously or not) to be their apropriate gender norm. That's really interesting.

Cicada said...

(Off topic: To address your double spaces: Adding double spaces between sentences is a relic from typewriter days. The publishing standard is to insert only one space between sentences. When you save the post to draft, the program is probably cleaning up formatting errors...)

Defining dating is so tricky. Where I grew up (Northern Ontario Canada) you were either boyfriend and girlfriend or you were nothing. There was no "dating." You didn't go out one night with someone and another night with someone else (unless you were a whore). Coming to Utah was a real adjustment for me. I'm Nat's friend who was email-dumped. The funny thing is that I try to be careful about saying that I'm "dating" someone, again because of my upbringing. But I figured that the following parameters made it safe to say I was dating him:

1. Holding hands.
2. Kissing.
3. The understanding that we were getting together every night even though we hadn't specifically arranged it the night before.
4. Paid meals and movies.

I didn't consider him my "boyfriend" mostly because I didn't actually like him all that much. But I didn't think it was a stretch to say we were dating since that seemed light and non-committal anyway. Also the fact that I asked him "Can I refer to you as 'the man I'm dating' on my blog" and he said yes. That was a big tip-off to me. But apparently I was wrong.

Who knows how to define it? I'd love to help workshop it.