Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dating Timelines and Waiting for Sex


Photo credit: jppi from morguefile.com

A few, short reactions from reading various blogs over the past few weeks.

1. Moxie over at And That's Why You're Single had post insisting that folks who don't respond to online dating inquiries after 24 hours aren't serious, and should be simply be dismissed.

My general response: that's a ridiculous idea! I don't even think it's true for those seemingly hyper-speed New Yorkers Moxie appears to be speaking to.

A more nuanced comment: arbitrary timelines are far less valuable than discerning the quality of the interactions. I'd take a handful of thoughtful messages and a date after 2 or 3 weeks any day over a flood of one liners and pressure to get together after a couple of days from a stranger.

2. Somewhere, I can't remember exactly where, I read something about perceiving dating as a "battle" to win someone's heart over. Which isn't much different from seeing dating as a "competition."

My general response: these are destructive ideas. If you have make a ton of effort to "win someone over" they probably aren't really that into you. And/or their interest might be or remain dependent upon your ability to keep doing X,Y, or Z to keep them interested. In addition, rushing to "get commitment" and/or worrying about others who might "take your date from you" is a great way to create misery. How many of those rushed relationship work out in the long term? And how often has your incessant worrying lead you to a happy, healthy relationship?

3. Evan Marc Katz offers yet another right wing piece of research to support his views. Why use a video which appears to wallow in socially conservative rhetoric about contraception and modern social ills to point out that waiting for sex is a positive thing?

That basic message both he and the video in question (here's the original source) offer is totally fine. I agree with it wholeheartedly if your aim is to develop a long term relationship with someone. I also think that mutually agreement to have casual or more loose ended sex is totally fine as well. And there are enough examples of folks who didn't wait and ended up in good long term relationships too, so nothing is set in stone. It just seems easier to develop a good long term relationship when you take it slower.

Furthermore, I find it troubling that the whole works is balanced on notions about men and women that are questionable at best.

Such as the sense that men need to be "trained" by their female dates to respect them sexually. This runs dangerously close to the idea that men can't control their sexual drives, something that continues to be used to defend all sorts of abusive behavior.

Beyond that though is something more subtle. Namely, that men will only "value" women who make them wait, which to me assumes that men default at not valuing women. Which is true for some men, no doubt.

However, if we continue to assume collectively that women must keep men at bay, and their own sex drives at bay, solely (or primarily) to get men to respect them and value them - well, that doesn't strike me as anything more than coping with patriarchy.

Does this make sense? It's pretty subtle. As I said, I support the waiting guidelines. But I think we need to re-frame what they are for.

The way I see it, waiting to have sex is about giving space to learn about each other. To discover if you have enough of a connection to be more vulnerable together. Perhaps there's some sort of increased "valuing" included in this, but it should be about the unique individuals involved.

In other words, it's framed in the positive (I'm waiting so that we can come to care for each other as unique people.) It's not framed in the negative (I'm doing this to make him respect me first because I'm afraid he won't if I don't.) Do you see how fear based this is?

The thing is, I think you can both make decisions to protect yourself early on in the dating process, and also maintain the positive framework as your aim. It's not an either/or as I see it.

I could say more, but I'll stop there.

Your thoughts?


24 comments:

  1. "I'd take a handful of thoughtful messages and a date after 2 or 3 weeks any day over a flood of one liners and pressure to get together after a couple of days from a stranger. "

    I said something to that same effect on Moxie's. A week's deadline is redunculous in my opinion, unless both people have no life outside of dating, no families (meaning elderly parents, children, extended families etc), and no work responsibilities. I imagine it works great for 20-something New Yorkers, but I would not recommend this approach to everyone else. Like I also said over there, my ex and I messaged each other for close to three weeks before meeting in person (due to the 70 mile distance, other commitments, other dates already scheduled on both ends etc) and it worked great. Best first date I ever had. I was not afraid to get into his car, not uncomfortable to spend the whole evening with him etc. because we knew each other somewhat by that point.

    By contrast, my first in-person date on OKC this past fall, was a guy who'd messaged me for all of two days before meeting, and insisted on a Saturday night date on the day I'd gone to IKEA to buy furniture (2 hr drive from my home). I'd been out of practice still, which was the only reason why I said yes. I told him I'd just gotten home after being on the road all day, and had just finished unloading the boxes from my car; he proceeded to tell me that I couldn't be too tired and should still be okay to meet! Charming.

    I would much rather determine it on a case-by-case basis when it's time to meet someone, than try to fit everyone into arbitrary timelines. There's no one-size-fits-all in dating that I know of.

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  2. "A week's deadline is redunculous in my opinion, unless both people have no life outside of dating, no families (meaning elderly parents, children, extended families etc), and no work responsibilities. I imagine it works great for 20-something New Yorkers, but I would not recommend this approach to everyone else."

    One thing I've noticed with a fair amount of dating advice is that it's predicated on a person devoting a significant amount of free time to focusing on dating. Almost to the point that it's supposed to become like a second or third job. Which is kind of loopy in my view.

    In all the years I did online dating, I can count on one hand the number of times I had more than 1 date in a given week. Not because no one was interested, but because I have a lot of other interests myself.

    There's a difference between prioritizing meeting someone and making it your life's focus. When I read some of the obsessive and sometimes really narcissistic comments on dating sites, I have to wonder if these folks have pinned their entire life's meaning and worth on finding a partner. Or simply on dating itself for those who aren't interested in long term relationships.

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  3. Want to add that I really liked your take on waiting, especially this: "The way I see it, waiting to have sex is about giving space to learn about each other. To discover if you have enough of a connection to be more vulnerable together."

    This makes perfect sense, unlike everything I've read on this subject on Evan's site. I just couldn't ever get behind the idea that I should make him wait because that's the proper thing to do, make him say he commits before I let him have sex, oh the whole concept of me letting him have sex with me, etc. To me, this puts my sex organs front and center, and makes our whole budding relationship about him earning access to my sex organs; when it should be about other things, like getting to know each other in many different ways. Plus, like you said, the element of fear is there too.

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  4. "To me, this puts my sex organs front and center, and makes our whole budding relationship about him earning access to my sex organs; when it should be about other things, like getting to know each other in many different ways."

    Exactly. It reduces the early stages of a relationship down to a focus on sex, which is a really narrow one. I also think that Selena's repeated questioning of the word "commitment" over at EMK's blog is useful here. Because a lot of folks place far too much weight on sex early on, linking it directly to commitment. And then they use the world to put a more long term, stable label on something that's a few months old at most.

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    1. "Because a lot of folks place far too much weight on sex early on, linking it directly to commitment. And then they use the world to put a more long term, stable label on something that's a few months old at most."

      Yes, that's what I think of every time he promotes "waiting until you get a commitment".

      In his part II today he addresses the issue of what happens if the sex isn't good after you committed? He says it's perfectly okay to break it off for that reason, or any. Gee, just like you would if you didn't make a "commitment"? So it really isn't a commitment is it? Or not much of one anyway. More like an illusion of commitment.



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    2. It seems to me that the only step being made is to be exclusive. Which is something, but often not what people think of when the word "commitment" is used. Or boyfriend/girlfriend for that matter.

      And while you can choose to be exclusive with another before having sex, the general framework he (and plenty of others offer) is that exclusivity and sex are linked tightly together.

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  5. "The way I see it, waiting to have sex is about giving space to learn about each other. To discover if you have enough of a connection to be more vulnerable together. "

    I really liked this take on it also. Hella more positive than of waiting because she thinks (hopes anyway) he won't turn out to be a hump and dumper.

    I've never used number of dates or weeks as a measurement to be intimate. Never even thought about it to be honest. In review of my past however, I know there are some men that had I known them just a little longer, a little better, I wouldn't have bothered. Not because they were "bad guys" but because it became clear to me shortly after sleeping with them we weren't a good match. And we would not have been a good match if I had "commited" to them beforehand either.

    I still don't understand why EMK insists on calling an agreement between two people who haven't known each other very long a commitment.

    And I agree with you Goldie, the concept of "making our whole budding relationship about him earning access to my sex organs; when it should be about other things, like getting to know each other in many different ways" is off-putting. The fact EMK advocates doing "everything but intercourse" while waiting doesn't make sense to me either.

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    1. "I still don't understand why EMK insists on calling an agreement between two people who haven't known each other very long a commitment."

      Reminds me of the time when I was "saved" by a group of Campus Crusade missionaries back in Russia in my early 20s. (An embarrassing fact of my biography.) They give you a booklet, open it to last page, tell you to read the 3-4 sentences from that page out loud, then shake your hand, congratulate you, and tell you that you're saved and born again, whatever that means. I assume they then went back home and reported that they'd saved this many people during their missionary trip overseas. Um, no. Even assuming the things that they teach are true, just because someone read a bunch of text out of a booklet, doesn't mean this person is saved or accepted whatever into their heart etc. Just like a guy saying the words that the woman wants him to say "Let's be exclusive and committed", doesn't mean he is actually committed, especially if saying these words gives him a pass into her bedroom.

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  6. Having just read EMK's rebuttal 2nd post on waiting, it seems to me that a main difference I have is that I don't agree with the "men look for sex and find love" premise behind all of his writing. To me, that's the thought process of folks (men or women) who have at one time or another enjoyed casual sex, or didn't have an orientation towards committed relationships, but suddenly get one because they meet someone who blows them out of the water.

    I'm guessing he's describing himself, and other guys like him. But that doesn't describe my experience, nor that of a lot of folks I know, regardless of gender.

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    1. "Men look for sex and find love" . When I think of all the men I've known (whether I dated them or not) they've all had serious relationships. While it's possible they weren't looking for love, I find it more plausible they were looking for a connection beyond sex and found one. Men (and women) tend to move on when they realize they are just not that into the other person, so it would seem both are looking for something beyond sexual access.

      Even in blogs, for every dude with a 3rd date rule, who's so protective of keeping his options open, there are always male commenters who want to find someone special; who'd like to have a relationship. To suggest that all males are always in casual mode seems rather inacccurate.

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    2. The more I think about that line, the more it feels like a romantic comedy experience. How many movies are out there with a player guy or guy not interested in committed who suddenly meets "the one," and shifts his who persona?

      No doubt this happens in real life as well, but I bet it's a minority experience.

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  7. I went and skimmed through the rebuttal post. I was mostly agreeing, OK, maybe not disagreeing with what I read, and then mid-post, there it was again... "wait till he's your boyfriend"... uh, no. He's still not my boyfriend. It really cheapens the boyfriend/girlfriend concept when we use those words to define two relative strangers who decide to sleep together for the first time, and might very well go their separate ways the next morning if they learn something new about each other that they do not like.

    BTW I have a question in relation to this. In your guys' opinion, what *is* a bf/gf? When is it okay to introduce the other person, or refer to them, as bf/gf? My ex used to introduce me as "this is Goldie, my friend" for nine months after becoming exclusive. And he only switched to "girlfriend" after I gave him a piece of my mind :) Okay, nine months might be a little excessive; next day after becoming exclusive is probably too soon; but when *does* a person you're seeing become your bf/gf? Thoughts? Thank you.

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    1. In my serious relationships it happened somewhere in/after month 2 after "I love you's" were exchanged. I've had some 'ships that never moved beyond the casual level where neither of us used the bf/gf term, or the L word and they always ended by the 3 rd. month mark.

      I think it is different for everybody though.Some people are uncomfortable using the L word at all. Some middle age people find the bf/gf label too "high school". Some people are cool with the term after only a few weeks.

      For me it's always been when a certain level of closeness has been established and there is the expectation that the relationship will continue.

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    2. Aw thanks. These are good guidelines!

      Yes I, too, was one of those people that are "uncomfortable using the L word at all." Probably after being burned in my marriage. When my ex and I got together, he was throwing the L word left and right, and I was only comfortable saying it to my dog :) Well nine months in, during the same conversation mentioned above, he gave me a piece of his mind about that too (the ex did, not the dog). So over time I got much better at saying it. Hopefully this will help me in future relationships, if and when those occur.

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    3. In EMK's part 1 post he gave a timetable of 5-6 weeks (Even though he went on to deny using timetables in a comment to me LOL) which I thought was more realistic than the timetable he gave last year of 2-5 weeks. But whether you've only known each other 2 wks or 6 or more, I'd think being comfortable calling each bf/gf would depend on how much time you actually had spent together, how close have you become. To EMK bf/gf is apparently standard with 'sexclusivity'.

      I don't think sexclusivity means much without strong feelings towards each other. And I think what many people feel during the first month or so of dating is attraction and the potential to become bf/gf.After only a few weeks how certain can you be the relationship will continue?

      And as you pointed out, two relative strangers might very well call it off the next morning after sleeping together the first time. Makes calling each other bf/gf rather premature as I see it.

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    4. In my experience, the bf/gf framework has only applied to relationships that lasted longer than a few months. Even when the terms were used early on, or if the "love" word was used early on, it always felt off somehow.

      The whole equating sex with commitment disappeared for me around 6 years ago, after multiple short term relationships with sex didn't last.

      In one case, she was telling me she thought she loved me one week, and then breaking up with me the next (because she'd fallen in love with a friend who eventually would become her husband). With her, I get the sense that she was trying to choose between us - maybe even having similar conversations about love with both of us. I knew nothing about him until after the fact.

      But anyway, that experience, and a couple of others put an end to any thoughts that sex and even proclaimed exclusivity meant some deeper commitment was being made.

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  8. In addition to the muddy and confusing labeling, I also think that another common issue is the lack of discussion of different stages or levels of development after exclusivity (beyond marriage for those who choose that). The boyfriend/girlfriend stage is often treated as a single stage, usually before marriage or some other form of long term pledge is made. And yet, it's really not a single stage. Especially when the two people involved are putting effort in, growing and learning, and co-creating the relationship.

    I'm starting to think that a fair amount of the challenges that arise after a couple has been together 6 months, a year, two years, etc. could be better faced and understood if placed within some kind of relationship developmental framework. I've seen long range frameworks that span the life of a marriage or decades long committed relationship. But not so much when it comes to mapping out the first few years, whether or not a longer term commitment ends up being made.

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  9. You guys might be interested in another man's take on the Economics video:

    http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2014/02/the-economics-of-sex/

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  10. I love how he takes that video down. I honestly couldn't stomach finishing the damned thing.

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