Is it just me, or has dating become an all out war?
Like many girls growing up in the eighties, I learned from the goddess Pat Benetar that love is a battlefield. Love is a struggle; it’s dramatic, full of conflict, a battle for control, be it of yourself or your lover. Love is a war, and our lovers can be our allies and our enemies at the same time.
While Ms. Benetar was very passionate about that fact, I never fully embraced the concept myself. Love, in my mind, isn’t a battlefield. Real love should be about communication, collaboration, compromise, compassion and lots of other great words that don’t all start with the letter c. While I may have shirked the idea of love for myself for most of my adult life, I always held onto the idea that real love would be just that – love. It would be balanced and beautiful, and worth whatever work it took to make it work. And I’ve managed to hold onto that belief for a long time.
That is, until I started actually dating.
Remember how I decided earlier this year that I would open myself up to love, and would go out into the brave new world of dating? Well I have, and some days I deeply regret those life choices I’ve made. Somehow we’ve truly managed to make love a battlefield, and it’s not a fight I want to be a part of.
If you don’t believe me, try being around a group of women talking about their dating lives. Ever since I started dating more and talking to my friends about it, time and again I’ve been struck by the incredibly adversarial way that we approach dating. As much as we all say we hate games and we want to be straight forward, we’re all moving pieces around the chessboard that is romance, and the people that we should be thinking of as potential partners are the adversaries that we’re facing across the table. “Don’t text him again if you texted him last.” “What? He didn’t pay the bill on your first date? NEXT!” “He didn’t ask you about yourself? What a jerk!” “He liked another girl’s photo on Instagram? THAT BASTARD!” While some of these things may bothersome more than others, the overall point stands; we spend so much time picking apart every move a potential love interest makes, and put all those things in a big pro and con chart that make us decide how we’re going to view the entire situation. It’s not about the person or how he or she makes us feel anymore – it’s about the things they do or don’t do, and how that behaviour measures up against our expectations of how dating should go. Fail at something and you become the enemy, and that implied animosity will negatively colour the entire situation.
Unless your previous actions have led to your friends, your former flames and law enforcement advising you otherwise, when it comes to dating, just do what feels right. If you like someone, and want to text him or her, just do it. If you want to see someone you like, then maybe make a move towards making that happen, rather than just waiting for him or her to make that move. If their social media behavior gives you anxiety, avoid it. There’s no need to rile ourselves up over things that don’t really matter, especially if it’s just distracting us from what does matter. Open your mind, open your heart, and shut down your inner love soldier. Lay down your arms, and go forth and date in peace.