Why is dating outdated?

Alex Brott

About three weeks ago, I asked a girl I didn’t know if she wanted to get coffee at the Patisserie one afternoon. We had talked briefly a few times, and I got good vibes around her, so I figured I’d get to know her better over drinks and gelato.

I thought this was normal, but our friends’ reactions tended more towards shock. It was clearly out of the ordinary to go on a good, old-fashioned date with a girl, with the intentions of kindling some sort of relationship. This general attitude shouldn’t be the case among adults, and Whitman’s vibrant hook-up culture should not preclude an active dating (as in going on dates) culture.

At Whitman, there is the often-used gray area between one-night stands and attached-at-the-hip sorts of pre-marital relationships. The term ‘thinging’ gets thrown around to describe this ambiguous state of hooking up consistently and maybe exclusively; yet like these relationships, this term has no consistent definition.

Credit: Jung Song

I have many problems with thinging, the greatest of which being I do not think people want it as much as they say. Every person I spoke to about this article suggested that those sorts of relationships left them wanting something different, yet the lack of open communication or clear definition makes it impossible to communicate these desires.

While thinging does not have to be devoid of an emotional connection, though this doesn’t seem to be the norm, the girls I spoke to tended to look at thinging as a possible route to a relationship. It’s illogical, however, to expect a relationship founded primarily upon physical attraction to develop into something more.

Dating is an ideal solution to this affliction, getting us beyond our culture’s tendency to shoot first and ask questions later – at least in a romantic sense. If one thing will lead to another, I’d rather a connection lead to sex than the other way around. This seems more reliable. We should consider going on a date to get to know someone before jumping in there; relationships built on mutual communication, trust, common interests, and connectedness tend to be more physically satisfying anyway.

Sure, dating can be hard. We are so used to hanging out in large groups that intimate socializing can be uncomfortable. Add our reliance on alcohol to lubricate social situations and, for many, dates with relative strangers can be frightening. Ultimately, hooking up is much simpler than navigating the social and emotional spaces around a new relationship.

But clearly, just because things are difficult doesn’t mean we should avoid them. I see thinging as a next-best alternative for students scared by the notion of serious relationships, or the process of starting one. Whitties should be confident and ambitious enough to ask a someone out on a date now and again.

I’d love to see a bigger dating culture on campus. Starting potentially romantic relationships with a real connection fosters communication which can take the confusion out of relationships. Additionally, asking a girl on a date sends a clear message about your intentions.

Importantly, going on a date doesn’t have to lead to marriage. The results can vary from casual to romantic – a new friend to a new lover. The increased communication I’ve stressed allows you to decide what you want to be together.

Men: Take some initiative. Next time you’re making eyes at some cute girl or boy in the quiet room, take a chance and ask her/him out. She or he will appreciate your confidence, and in the least you’ll probably make a new friend.

Women: Don’t be weirded out if guys or girls ask you out on dates. Be flattered if he or she pays. Be grateful that he or she is sending a clear message, and appreciate his or her confidence. Maybe even ask a guy or girl on a date yourself.

To those who truly just want to hook up, get in there. But to those of us who want something more – and I think it’s a safe bet that we’re in the majority – we should work to break down the stigma around dating, and make the casual intimacy and good feelings of a date more normal. I’m sure we’ll all be pleased with the results.