As a rule, I don’t date. And I’m not talking about dating as in “to go out / be in a relationship with someone”; I’m talking about dating as in going on dates to find potential partners. I might even go as far as to say I have an aversion to dating.
In two previous posts (Crushes and Squishes, and Ionic and Covalent Relationships) I talked about how I process relationships. Since I don’t filter potential lovers from potential friends, I’ve never seen the point of going on dates. Going on a date would imply that there is a present interest in possibly pursuing a romantic relationship, and that’s not what I’m looking for when I first meet people. In that light, agreeing to go on dates seems disingenuous because I’m not trying to get to know the person as a potential romantic partner but rather as a person first.
Furthermore, I’m also generally not looking for a partner. I have no pressing desire or need to be in a relationship; thus, I have no need to go out and interview potential partners or to specifically search for them in any other way. More to the point, I don’t think looking for a partner is the way to go—I want any potential relationship to grow into the title rather than as a result of the title. And for me that requires a solid base friendship.
It seems to me that so many people get caught up in the idea that they’re not complete without a partner. Some are even uncomfortable being single. In contrast, I believe that I’m the only person who can complete me. I can share my life with others and share in theirs, but reaching a sense of completion has to be an internal process.
That’s not to say that I’m uninterested in connecting with other people. In fact, quite the opposite: I may have to process everything internally if I am to know who I am, but most of the inputs are from external sources. Through the prism of those external interactions I can better understand myself.
In the film Playing by Heart, Sean Connery, reminding his wife of what she said of love 25 years earlier, says:
You said that the wonderful thing about falling in love… is that you learn everything about that person, and so quickly. And if it’s true love… then you start to see yourself through their eyes… and it brings out the best in you… and it’s almost as if you’re falling in love with yourself.
I like this concept because it emphasizes getting to know yourself. The difference for me is that for most people the focus is usually on romantic love serving as the conduit to self-discovery, whereas I don’t agree that romantic love is necessarily nobler than or superior to any other form of love in this regard. Yet that’s the form of love people are ultimately looking for on a date.
In my book, love is love. I cherish most the people I love most, regardless of what character those feeling take – platonic, brotherly, sexual, romantic, etc. But that love I feel for the individual people has to develop freely, not under the pretext of looking for romance, even if it eventually develops into a romantic interest. You behave differently when you’re specifically looking for romance—we’ve all heard the advice to put on your best face when you go on a date. You show aspects of yourself that you think the other person will find attractive so that they in turn develop romantic feelings for you. This seems so deceptive to me.
I realize that with new friends you also start by only sharing certain aspects of your personality, but there’s usually no particular position you’re trying to fill. Friendship naturally progressives over time without any specific regard to the particular direction; in contrast, the relationship is supposed to advance toward a romantic partnership if two people are dating. And I just don’t have enough information early on to determine whether or not I’m romantically interested in a relationship. Like a mentat, I need more data before I can complete an analysis.
The ways in which we can connect to other people are endless; what do I gain by going on dates and limiting people to a romantic perspective, cutting them loose once I’ve determined they don’t fit whatever preconceptions I have for my potential partner? If I get to know people as individual friends first, then I get to know them for who they are rather than for what I want them to be or how they want to be perceived in a romantic relationship.
The thing is, even once a solid friendship is established I rarely feel a romantic pull toward anyone. The real pull for me is emotional, mental and intellectual intimacy, and I have that with the people closest to me. I hear what people want out of their romantic relationship, and I always think about how I have those very things with my dearest peeps. If I already have those things—intimacy, trust, respect, comfort and acceptance, to name a few—then why go out of my way to find them somewhere else? Because society expects me to seek them out in a romantic relationship so that I’m not alone, so that I’m “whole”? Fuck that—to quote from the song “My Society” by De-Phazz, “in my society I am only solitary, not alone.”
On the few occasions when I’ve felt the need to pursue a relationship with a friend, I have—sometimes with positive results and other times in vain. So it’s not that the idea of a relationship is totally anathema to me, or that I’m terrified of rejection. I just won’t be in or rush a romantic relationship for the sake of being in one, no matter how many people tell me I’m supposed to be looking for a partner or that I’m incomplete without one. All of the important people in my life contribute to my ability to feel whole within myself, not just one particular pairing.
Since I don’t aspire to the end, engaging in the means of achieving it would be a waste of time for both me and the person on the date with me. Better to leave the dating to the people who can use it as a tool to find what they’re looking for. It is, after all, a useful tool; it’s just not one I keep in my toolbox because it isn’t really helpful in building relationships the way I envision them.