Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Is it an art?

One of my lady friends has begun hosting a 'Love Hour' on Beijing's 774 radio station. This week's topic was The Art of Dating.

As I observed in the preamble to my notorious series of posts on Dating In Beijing a couple of years ago (in fact, a recycle from here), I always feel a bit uncomfortable with the very notion of 'dating' - which is an American English concept rather than a British English one (we tend to just say 'going out with'). I've complained that it seems to me to be a most unfortunate combination of the overly formal and yet, at times, also disturbingly provisional ("Oh, we're only dating", "Yeah, I'm dating other people as well").

In my usage, I'd only ever say 'date' of the first few assignations, the preliminary, exploratory phase of the relationship (and I'd rather avoid using it even then; indeed, I don't like formal 'dates' at all, there's far too much pressure on them; I much prefer to try to get to know someone through regular casual contact in company). And I don't think I'd ever speak of 'dating' as an ongoing activity.

I suppose many people think of 'dating' primarily as the search and selection process of finding a mate, 'trying out' a series of potential partners. Once a relationship has settled into a regular pattern, most people - well, most non-Americans at any rate - would stop describing it as 'dating'.

I prefer to have a good sense of how much I like a girl - and whether she likes me - before we go out on our first proper one-on-one 'date'. I hate the awkwardness of trying to keep a near-stranger entertained for an evening when you both recognise early on that there's just no spark between you, and I try to avoid going on 'dates' like that. I believe one's aim should be to only go out on 'dates' with people with whom you are already fairly confident you share a strong mutual attraction, and, if those positive initial impressions are confirmed, to progress rapidly to a steady, committed relationship.

Some people, I suppose, might see The Art Of Dating as being a matter of optimizing the business of choosing a mate (or of just having a bit of non-committed fun). Me, I'm more interested in The Art Of Not Dating.


JES said...

Heh. It's been a while, but I might add that I always felt especially challenged by The Art of No Longer Dating.

...and then there's The Art of Resuming Dating with the One You No Longer "Date."

But here things become (became) a little too twisted.

Froog said...

I suppose I'm so hyperactive socially that I never really have to stop and think about contriving pleasant excuses to go out and do something with a lady. Not here in Beijing, anyway. In London, it was rather different. The options were slightly fewer - or at any rate more restrictively expensive - and so things required that bit more planning. Here, eating out, going to a concert, and then a bit of bar-hopping is an almost nightly routine. The "quiet evening in" is the rarer pleasure, and perhaps more "romantic" as a result.

gary said...

Yeah, there's this odd switcharound. When you're single, a date can be trial-by-fire. When you're in a relationship, it's more like the fun night out you never find time to have anymore.

Froog said...

Well put, Gary. I might use that for one of my 'bons mots' one day, if you don't mind.