Why Dating Is Called ‘Dating’ and Why Our Understanding Of It Is Backwards

Unlike most folks growing up in America, dating wasn’t really at the forefront of my life. At least, not at first. And, as a youth, the whole concept of “dating” was just foreign to me. By that, I mean, it’s not that different from just making a friend except with a person of the opposite sex. The things that you do together and talk about are, more or less, what you would ordinarily do with a same-sex friend. The only difference that sets a friendship apart from a romantic one is, well, sex (and that would be true if you were straight, gay, lesbian, bi, and/or transgender).

With that in mind, my first ‘date’ wasn’t really a date as is conventionally understood. We started out as friends in high school (*GASP* I know!) that I was introduced to by a mutual friend and eventually that friendship turned romantic when I got to college. We had a strong emotional bond throughout that friendship. However, It fizzled out shortly after we became official, which I won’t go into detail here. Just know that it was a combination of things coming together at the wrong place and at the wrong time that led to its demise. The resulting ‘gulf’ that was my emotional bond with her literally crushed my soul and I was a husk of my former self for a long time throughout college. Surprisingly, I didn’t drop out and my grades didn’t suffer. It wasn’t until three years after did I meet another girl that I became friends with (oh no you didn’t!!!). Sadly, yes, I did. And that became romantic after she ended things with her previous boyfriend. This one also didn’t last. Like my first, I had a strong emotional bond with her as well but it wasn’t as devastating.

After her, I entered into the work world and that’s when the whole idea of ‘dating’ became clear to me. You see, when you have a job, and it takes up most of your free time, you really need to prioritize what you have to get done from what you would like to get done. Dating being the latter rather than the former. Take a moment now and look at the root word of “dating”. It would be “date,” right? You literally have to see a person “one date” (as in one day) at a time. Not continuously like it was back in school. So it could be that you’ll be seeing her this coming Monday night but because of your job, your new found responsibilities as an adult, and family and social obligations, you won’t be seeing her again until maybe three weeks from this coming Monday night. Before, when you had to go to school regularly, there was not a shadow of a doubt that you’ll be seeing that girl again and continuously throughout the year for that matter. Now, you have to plan and schedule her into your life–one day at a time. Hence, the term “date.” *Mind blown* right? Okay, maybe not for you but it was for me.

Now, having said that, I’m going to say something that may contradict my other entry on why men and women can’t be strictly platonic friends. I think the whole concept of dating is “backwards”. And I don’t mean it in the sense that it’s primitive and we should do away with the old concept and make up a whole new one to take its place. No. By “backwards,” I mean quite literally that it’s backwards. As in, it’s starting point is reversed. You see, it starts out with the sexual part first and then the friendship (and along with it, the emotional bond that accompanies any friendship) after. Emotional bonding does not occur at the sexual phase of the dating ritual. Yes, there is “some” bonding taking place during the sexual phase but that’s mostly at the physiological level, namely, that there’s a bunch of dopamine and oxytocin shooting up into your brain after each sexual encounter. And all of this gives you the illusion that there was a “real” emotional connection taking place when, in fact, there isn’t. And this is true for the guy or the girl.

In actuality, dating should start out with two people being friends first in order to gauge compatibility and if the relationship has reached the pinnacle where sex is appropriate, then sex should commence. But if not, then they should part ways and that would be the end of it. Instead, we have the dating ritual as we know it. Men are supposed to express sexual interest at the forefront and if the woman likes you enough, she’ll continue to see you eventually leading to sex. After sex, naturally (and by that, I mean biologically), the man will see no further reason to be around the woman. He has already implanted his seed (if we’re speaking about strictly the biological aspect) or had his sexual release (for the more modern day reason) and he’s moving onto the next woman to spread his seed (or have another sexual release). Woman gets hurt, becomes vindictive, and turns into a hoe and has sex with lots of men just to get back at the original man who hurt her in the first place. This ricochets off the other unsuspecting men who really just wanted a long-term, loving relationship, and they in turn become vindictive, turn into jerks, have sex with lots of women just to get back at the original woman who hurt him in the first place. And this multiplies exponentially across the human population not quite unlike a virus, if you think about it. It’s all very…counterproductive, at the end of the day.

Alas, such is the state of the current dating landscape that’s undergone so many changes in just this past decade alone. With the rise of the hookup culture, technology that makes face-to-face communication and phone calls virtually obsolete, and third wave feminism doing away with traditional gender roles, social norms, and the social construct on which it was built on, dating as it stands right now has become an all out free-for-all where anything goes and anything can be justified. Scary, really. (Or fun, if you’re a player, but if one was looking for a long-term, monogamous relationship? Good luck! Almost no man will settle for any woman when he can easily get sex from any gal these days and almost no woman will settle for any man for his money because often times, she earns twice as much as the man of the same profession on average!)

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