Friday, December 31, 2010

Of Disparity of Definitions

Lovers by Rene Magritte

            What is dating? I used to think this was a fairly straightforward concept, one that every adult grasped as an inherent aspect of adulthood. I thought that it meant two people who find each other attractive set date(s) – a prearranged time and place –to get to know each other better for the purpose of determining whether they are compatible enough to pursue a relationship together. They dress nicely, maybe have dinner, maybe make small talk or engage in long-winded philosophical discussions about the meaning of life or lack thereof – ala Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke…right? No? My sentimental celluloid education has failed me. A quick Google search reveals that I am not the only adult(-ish) person uncertain about the term.
           Apparently, my perception of a ‘proper’ date is faulty on a couple of premises -the first being that it must be prearranged – preferably via a face-to-face encounter or at the very least a telephone call. The last person I was pseudo-dating would only call or text spur-of-the-moment to see if I felt like ‘hanging out’ or if I wanted to ‘chill’. This was a person who would intentionally start all messages with a lower case letter to appear more casual. When did people become so averse to formality? 

Painting by Daniel Heidkamp
            Second, I discovered that dating doesn’t even necessarily have to have a purpose.
            “Casual dating is just that, casual, it is not done with any intent or purpose other than to be social and get to know someone a bit better. There are no clauses for being exclusive, no projections of commitments or emotions when one is casually dating. It is a social exercise that one partakes in to broaden one’s perspectives. Casual dating is key to finding the right long-term partner, as through this process we learn what we like and dislike and what we truly want in a long-term partner.”

            Okayyy, I understand the logic behind this but what about the emotional attachment factor? As someone who becomes attached to people easily, how am I supposed to navigate around this? After a certain number of dates, if I agree to go out with you again, it pretty much means I like you and am entertaining the possibility of this actually heading somewhere. Now if my definition were the original one, i.e. ‘traditional’ and the person I’m seeing is thinking more the latter, i.e. ‘casual,’ you can see how the disparity would cause confusion, possibly pain. Throw in casual physical interaction- anything from kisses to intercourse and the situation becomes even more tangled – one person thinks the train is heading for some romantic destination, the other just wants to get off at the next stop, literally and figuratively.

           I don't know, maybe at the core of my aversion to casual dating is my narcissm - indignance at the idea of being treated as an option, an extra, a side dish. The high-maintenance diva in me seems to say "Meeee? A mere option? Kid, don't you see? I'm it, the main dish, the star of the show. I get top billing." I realize it's unrealistic to expect someone to know that they want you and you alone at the beginning of a courtship (for lack of a better word). But after a number of 'dates' shouldn't you have an idea? Which probably begs the question, how many dates exactly? Just how many dates does it take for two people to decide, you know what? I'd like to keep seeing you,  I think we'd be great. But I don't think people are so open about feelings - maybe it's fear of rejection, or fear that the other person doesn't  feel the exact same way you do.. So I guess some people just allow themselves to 'go with the flow,' and try to 'read signs' along the way. I wish everything were clear cut, black and white, you know? But I suppose in dating, as in life, most of it is gray. But all I'm saying is I'd like whole-hearted sentiment, not lukewarm - all or nothing, babe, that's the only way I roll. The way I see it, why waste my time and someone else's time on something I don't see going anywhere?

            Maybe it's me, maybe I'm too old-fashioned. People are always telling me I was born in the wrong century. They're often surprised at my views on dating and courtship, (knowing my liberal views on most everything else) and probably consider me archaic, an anachronism, a feminist's nightmare. But it seems to me that the old days were much simpler. Cavemen times: loin cloths and wooden clubs. Ugg meet Olga. Ugg like Olga. Ugg want Olga be his, pull hair, make many babies. Grunt. Grunt. Unnnhh. (Clearly, I've done my anthropology research in the newspaper's cartoon section.) Fast forward to 19th century colonial Philippines: barongs tagalog, guitars and haranas, maria claras. Mahal kita, mahal kita, hindi ito bola...Ok, maybe I'm getting my centuries confused, but my point is, the path from a meeting to a marriage in those days didn't have to cut through the modern jungle of dating subspecies, ambiguities, equivocalities, that it does today. Intentions were clear from the beginning, and there was less confusion.

Juan Luna's Tampuhan, 1895

            Studies have shown that men are more likely to prefer casual relationships and 'hook-ups' than relationships. How astonishing. And women are more likely to prefer dating, but overall, both genders showed a preference for traditional dating over hooking up. I think the issue underneath all this is fear of emotional availability, of being vulnerable. People crave intimacy but are afraid of it at the same time. Why? I've heard some say that they avoid interacting emotionally with the opposite sex because of some painful experience in the past. Others, cynics - people  who probably haven't witnessed a long-lasting fulfilling union, don't believe that relationships ever last, so instead pursue casual flings. Others still, probably date casually for purely hedonistic, self-indulgent reasons  - the Dorian Grays of the world to put it one way.

           I think maybe the key to avoiding any sort of confusion is honesty. I'm back to the full disclosure theory, again. If  you don't feel like seeing me anymore, say it to my face, and I'll extend you the same courtesy. If you're one of those people who doesn't believe in relationships and don't ever intend to be in one, tell me early on  (explicitly) so I know not to expect anything and again I'll extend you the same courtesy - I'll tell you that I don't put out. Cards on table. Quick and clean. Don't lead me through the sludge of your emotional hang-ups, your collection of baggage, because I don't think that's fair.  

            What do you think, lone person reading this seemingly interminable post? (I promise, it's almost done.) Do you prefer traditional to casual? Hook-ups over relationships?I'd like to know.

            All I know is I'll take traditional any day. Oh, and that I'm not afraid...anymore. 


  1. I just got over a five year domestic partnership with the love of my life. He had to leave because he wanted to have kids. I blogged about it with a fury, and I got over it by and by, and I was eventually serene enough to accept the things that I cannot change. Fine, mahina ang kapit ko, madalas ako mag-spotting, hindi kita mabibigyan ng anak. We're still friends, and I miss the sonofabitch. But I miss the relationship all the more.

    He was my first boyfriend, and we made it good, and we lasted five years. I know now what it feels like, and I say this with the dead certainty and finality of a heart attack: I'm into relationships. Real relationships, where both families are aware of what's happening, because they have to know. Anyway, let me stop here before I release a kraken of depressing bullshit.

    This was a well wri... well thought of post. I could say "well written," but that's a cliche with blog-hopping whores who make themselves present because they want to get comments themselves. Anyway, it was edu-tain-ment-ional, and it was smart, because it will keep the reader, at least the wide awake reader, thinking. Yes, Katrina, this is a very long post; it was nice that you have a wealth of useful ideas, and it was darling that you placed pictures in between intervals. These gave my eyes some reprieve, and it made the dreadful length of this post all the more tolerable.

    A shorter post is easier to read. As in read. Now, Katrina, if you're planning to open a floodgate of a post on another pet subject, then you can choose to divide that into several installations. For economy. And I'm just suggesting. You can be hardcore, intense, passionate without being too lengthy about it.

    And you can be too manang at some points. That is endearing.

    Cheers you, Katrina, and Mabuhay Ka! Muahness from Pasig Citehh!

    P.S. Would you far rather be addressed as Sitting Pretty?

  2. Momelia, my dear B.S. (Bullshitter, Bovine Scatologist, Ball Su...) Wow. I'm surprised at how crass I've become since making your virtual acquaintance. Just kidding. I was always vulgar. Hehehe. Crass is good, btw. Real is good.

    I am sorry to hear about your relationship ending. I read a little about it when I flipped through your archives. I cannot begin to imagine what that must have felt like. That must have hurt like a bastard. Ai, am I glad I've never really been in love. Ugh. The horror. The horror.

    Thank you for your blogging tips! I'll be sure to keep them in mind the next time I launch into a long lament about my deplorable and nearly non-existent dating life. Haha. It's not so bad, 2011 is looking quite promising. ;-)

    About the name, yes, I'd prefer to be called Sitting Pretty or S.P. (however incongruent the eponym may be to my actual appearance; my, I'm feeling verbose this morning.) Why? Because this blog was originally intended to be anonymous, my friends don't know about it. (Because I wanted to write crap about them. I kid.) But I guess this post will soon be safely buried in the archives, and none of them will ever read these commments, so all's well... =)

    P.S. I read your Pussy Kamagong Story in the last Lit Wit Challenge, and I have one question : If the Prince was indeed straight, why did he so enjoy being accosted by hoardes of the gays? =)

  3. P.S. Laughed out loud at "Fine, mahina ang kapit ko, madalas ako mag-spotting, hindi kita mabibigyan ng anak."

    Haha. Maybe you two should've tried In Vitro Fertilization/ Assisted Reproduction? Technology these days is astounding. ;-)

  4. dude, you took the words right out of my mouth.
    loving it. Will devote serious time reading your blog. haha! :)

    - Jokoness

  5. Jokoness: haha! it sounds like you've had some dating confusion yourself. i'd really like to hear about them - i'm collecting stories from everyone to try to gain a better understanding of the whole thing.

    Thank you for dropping by! Tell me when your new blog is up. =)

    Read any good books lately? =)

  6. Yeah, it was easier back then when our dads had to profess undying love to our moms early on. And to prove himself worthy to go out with her, he'll render domestic services to her family, immediate and extended. That was black and white. Now, it's "I'll see you when I see you." Or "Can I text you when I want to hangout?", a text that never really comes because it was just said at the end of a date to sound, I don't know, sincere? Polite? You wonder why the sonofabitch did not call back because you knew he had a good time unless he was a really good actor, so what the hell was wrong? Should you call? Nooo. You'd rather bite off your own tongue than eat your pride. Did he think you cannot get another date? There are a lot of other guys just begging to go out with you. But you only want to go out with the one who does not call back, goddammit. You want to ask him out again without sounding so needy. But you really can't do that, can you? The moment his phone rings and the caller ID says it's you, it automatically registers to him as "Oh, the clingy girl. Nah, too much commitment." Yeah, dating, a real dilemma of the modern times.

  7. Hazel! I JUST realized you commented here, I'm such a retard. I don't get alerts for new comments. Or maybe I do, I just never check my e-mail. Hehe.

    Sounds like you've had some dating confusion yourself! Ah, yes, the old days. I like the sound of that - "domestic services" to prove his affection. I'd make him clean my house. And maybe do my laundry.

    I hate the texting thing. Call for goodness sake! Yeah, I never call or text first. Is it pride? I think maybe a little. Probably also that - fear of being labeled CLINGY. I have nothing against girls calling first but I just prefer to have guys do that work (at least early on). The thing is I want a guy who's mature enough to know what he wants and who would commit himself to the endeavor of attaining it. And YES YES YES. WHY do we want only the ones who don't call back? But there are all these other dufuses you don't want or need? Oh, irony.

    Anyways, thanks for stopping by, you goddess! Visit again soon! =)