As the ever lovely Ilonina writes, she and I had an opportunity to very pleasantly meet, conspire, and philosophize in person last Friday over some excellent beer and Catalan tapas.
Do not let her modest protestations fool you Diarylanders, she's very smart, funny, and a whole lot of fun. Thank you for coming out, Ilonina, I think I had at least as much fun as you did. I hope our paths can cross again under equally pleasant circumstances.
One of the many topics that Ilonina and I were able to discuss during our time together was the difference between Irish and American approaches to dating. Being "off the market" with regard to dating, this reminded me of how comfortable I am that I found someone. I keep remembering the line from When Harry Met Sally where Marie says: "Tell me I'll never have to be out there again." Oh, so true.
I never particularly liked dating. It confused me. Due to circumstances somewhat beyond my control (e.g. I was stuck in a University graduate computer lab through much of the decade of my 20's), my attempts to date largely involved meeting people online... well before online dating acquired its recent respectability. I would have loved to meet that oh-so-pretty girl through friends that met regularly at a local watering hole, a church group, or even at work, but, alas that was not to be. No, what I got to experience was largely a series of nearly blind first dates... auditions of the part of "X's boyfriend" if you will, that resulted in rejection after the first meeting over 95 percent of the time.
This has lead me to believe that dating often involves a delicate series of pantomimes... which still often confuse me. One must self-promote a little bit, but not so much as to come off as a self-centered horse's ass. One must initiate light physical contact if the signs appear to be right, but, not come off as threatening. One must "read the tea leaves" at the end of an evening, and decide whether or not decide whether or not to try a goodnight kiss. Beyond there also seem to be a whole range of advanced pantomimes whose existence I can only guess at. These generally relate to how quickly and how far beyond that first kiss on the first night one can acceptably go... ranging from making out in the parking lot to sex in whatever location is convenient.
The use of pantomimes applied to all kinds of women, especially ones that other (and, in my view, sometimes inferior) men could seemingly lure into bed without difficulty. I kept in touch with some of these women and we would occasionally compare notes about our online dating experiences. They would often ask if my latest date and I had kissed and I would feel self conscious because the answer was often 'no'. When I would inquire about their latest and greatest meeting, I was usually regaled with some tale that began with "oh, we had great sex on his boat" or "we were almost caught having sex on the floor of his Dad's law office." It made me wonder what these other guys were doing that I wasn't.
The answer seems to be that these pantomimes generally seem to have little to do with what often attracts me to someone and how I prefer to show it. Intellectual connection is often tremendously imporant to me. A certain creative connection, or a compatible sense of humor is also very important. When such connections are found, I want to be a gentleman and not a cad... which often seems to be the opposite of the "standard" pantomime that some women are looking for. These women then concluded we "lacked chemistry", which I suppose we did because I was only trying to be myself. I think some potentially marvelous dates actually turned out lousy because I was improvising, when I was actually supposed to be reading off of some kind of script.
In the end, I think I found someone in Fiancee S. who felt equally clueless about the dating/mating dance. I can recall on one of our early dates that "we would just make things up as we go along." It just goes to show that improvising can work very well, if you find the right partner to improvise with.
Thankfully, I don't have to worry about any of this anymore. It is a relief. When I meet an attractive woman socially, I can merely appreciate the meeting for platonic beauty of the moment and not worry about pantomimes. I have found the woman for me, and I can just be very much myself with everyone. I like it because it's just so much easier, and I think I can be a better person all around.
on 2004-01-05 at 6:39 a.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond