Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Mating Dance--Then and Now

By Robin "Red Hot" Kaye

I have three teenagers, and have adopted most of their friends. I’m surrounded by kids. When it came to the whole dating thing, my kids were kind of late starting and I’m glad because I’ve found out that kids don’t date anymore.

What? Everything screeches to a halt (insert sound effect here).

We’ve all seen it… yes, and most of us have done it a time or two. Granted, for me, it was twenty-four years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. You’d see someone you liked the looks of, you’d look away when he caught you looking at him. There was a lot of peeking over the rim of your beer, martini, or soda (depending upon your age and taste) and then you’d either spent a lot of time praying he’d make the first move or you would. He’d approach you… or in my case, I usually went to talk to him. You would chat and see if you have anything in common other than attraction. The bad ones were glaringly obvious. A donkey laugh, the guy who only talks about himself, BO—the list of strike out scenarios is endless. But, if you got along and no one else attracted you as much as he did and vice versa, before the end of the night he’d have your phone number. This led to waiting and praying for him to call.

Okay, so let’s say he called and asked you out. Are you free on Saturday night? Probably not because you dated more than one guy at a time.

After dating for a few weeks or months, you have the talk about exclusivity. Then if you both agree not to see other people, you have to turn down all other requests for dates.

One day I was talking to my sixteen-year-old daughter, Twinkle Toes, reminiscing about my dating life and told her this scenario.

She was appalled. “You were a slut?”

“Of course not.” I was shocked my own daughter would even think such a thing. “I never told them I’d date them exclusively and I certainly wasn’t sleeping with any of them. I was playing the field.”

Twinkle Toes gave me that you’re-older-than-dirt-and-can’t-possibly-relate-to-anything look. “Now you’d be considered a slut.”

I tried not to take this personally and probably rolled my eyes. “Why?” I was truly curious. How could dating more than one guy at a time make you a slut? Is the word slut suddenly synonymous with popular?

“Because that’s not how it’s done. If you go out with someone, you’re going out. If you see anyone else, it makes you a cheater and a slut.”

“You don’t date?”

“Sure, but only one person at a time. You see a guy you like and he likes you, and you exchange numbers. You text, he asks you out, and then you change your facebook status.”

“In this scenario, have you seen each other?”


“Well, how do you even know you like him?”

“You text.”

“So you’re not even talking? Why text when you can talk on the phone?”

This is where Twinkle Toes rolls her eyes and leaves the discussion—at least in mind if not in body.

“I just don’t get it. How do you know you even like him until after you’ve had a few dates?”

“You chat on Facebook, you text, sometimes you Skype.”

“Do you hold hands and hang out and talk?”

“If you’re going out, yeah.”

“But not until then?”


Which explains why my daughter has had three boyfriends in less than a year with quite a few months in between each break-up. She didn’t get to know they guy before they were exclusive and after a half dozen “dates” she figured out they weren’t for her or vice versa—then they’d break-up.

What occurred to me was in the modern-day scenario, there isn’t much there to break-up. Yet it’s considered a break-up and the one who got dumped takes it very personally.

It was much easier when you just didn’t call the guy any more. If I went on a handful of dates and didn’t really, really like the guy, I’d tell him I just wanted to be friends and move on or he’d simply fall off my radar—no break-up, no long texting session, no awkwardness, no heartbreak—disappointment maybe, but not heartbreak.

Now there’s relationship drama before there’s even a true relationship. I don’t get it. Why the rush to change your Facebook status?

Can anyone explain this to me?

What is this going to do with the Contemporary Single Titles Romances? Am I going to have to start adding Facebook Status Change ceremonies in all my books? Is there such a thing as a love triangle anymore?

Is this the way it is in adult dating too? My thirty-something single friend says it is. What do you think?  


Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Great, Robin, I've got that to look forward to with my two younger ones? *rolls eyes* I can't wait. LOL

Robin Kaye said...

Sorry Stacey! I meant this as an information gathering blog not a warning blog.

Anonymous said...

You just described dating during my teen years. If you go out on a date with someone, you're "going out" which is considered exclusive. One date can lead to boyfriend/girlfriend status, which usually eventually leads to breaking up (and sadness, crying, etc).

It wasn't until my 20s (out of college) that I discovered that dating is different from "seeing someone" or even "dating someone." The latter two are exclusive, but the first means you're going out on a bunch of dates with a variety of guys to see which you'd like to become exclusive with.

(I'm mid-30s now, btw. And been married 8 years.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and my mom was horrified during my teen years that accepting a date with a boy meant that you would be boyfriend and girlfriend and exclusive. She couldn't understand why we didn't go out with lots of boys. I told her that's what sluts did.


Robin Kaye said...

Oh Amanda--Do I ever feel old and not a little bit slutty. LOL

Grace Burrowes said...

I think the invisible element in play now is the assumption among young people that if you're "dating" someone, you're intimate with them, so of course, you wouldn't date a bunch of people at once.
As a Mom, this terrifies me. It's some comfort to know I terrified my mom, and she terrified hers.

Terri Osburn said...

I'm 40 and single but I don't date. If I do, then I focus on one at a time but I thought that was only my hang up as a serial monogamer. Or however you'd spell that.

Kiddo is about to 13 and her friends are already "dating". It's always exclusive immediately now that I think about it.

I think for 20-somethings, it's still go out on a couple dates and keep your options open, but I don't know many 20-somethings. There's a couple of new ones here at the office. I may take an unscientific poll and see what they'll share.

Angie Fox said...

That's wild. When I dated, back in the 90's, you played the field. It was fun. Just like you described. Why get exclusive until you actually get to know someone?