I’ve been watching Friends again lately, and it’s cute and funny and sooo nineties (god those clothes!!). They don’t drink that much; sleeping around is not encouraged; people wait a while before having sex with the person they’re dating; there are lots of euphemisms. It made me think about How I Met Your Mother, and how different the whole dating thing is in that show. Which made me reflect on how much things have changed in the way ten year between the two shows.

I went on a date on Thursday (should have written this earlier, before boy flaked on second date). It was the first date I’ve been on in ages. I mean a proper date, called a date not ‘let’s hang out sometime’, where I was picked up (because it was on his way) and he picked the place and paid for drinks and drove me home, and I asked him up for another drink and he kissed me good night. Where we texted the next day to say it was nice, and then the next to make plans to do it again. It was really nice. (Well until the flaking of yesterday but even that is explicable and possibly forgiveable.)

So I began to think about what’s happened to dating these days. Why are we all so convinced that it is the ultimate heresy to admit to wanting someone? Why so we constantly dance around honesty about how we feel and what we want, and instead project this constantly changing film of what we think the other person will find acceptable, instead of showing them who we are and letting them accept what they want and decide if it’s worth it.

Why do we have to be okay with everything? Especially when it comes to sex. I remember the Bride saying in a post (or a chat hee) that it’s funny how women seem to feel the need to want casual sex all the time these days. It’s passe to say no, wait for the third date. I myself have struggled with this particular thing a lot, because on the one hand I really am cool with sex, but on the other I am also wildly insecure and terrified to say no. I’m not saying women can’t or don’t want casual sex, but surely there are some who want serious sex? Why is it such a crime to articulate it?

Then there’s the whole I must know how this will end before it begins thing. What is with that? I mean you meet someone, you know after first date that okay they make you laugh or whatever and you aren’t closing the door. Then on the second you might find out your politics complement each other, or not, or whatever and find that the deal is or isn’t broken. And step by step you eventually reach a point where you say hmm okay, I think I can spend a lot of time with this person, or not. And then you know if it will or won’t work. But no; everyone wants to lay out right at the beginning: I don’t want a relationship; I want a relationship; I can’t be with someone who snores or whatever. Arre baba, don’t you actually only find out whether the good balances the bad once you know more of both? And god forbid you as a woman actually say that you want a relationship; don’t you know it means you’re going to steal their sperm and immediately conceive a child?

Now I don’t know who started this nonsense, but it is nonsense. And both men and women perpetrate it. I’m constantly getting advice from my girlfriends about no, don’t call him, let him call you. Or wait a while before responding, and so on. Which is just bollocks. Then again, I do get shafted because oh god if I called and said I had fun yesterday, lets hang out again it means I’m going steal sperm etc. Makes you want to wash your hands of the entire enterprise.

And then there’s the be cool thing. It’s like being cool about stuff has given everyone the excuse to be as rude as they possibly can. Be cool, he’ll call when he does. Be cool, she’ll think you like her too much. Be cool, I know you might as well *be* in a relationship, but you can’t push to put a label on it. Why do you need labels anyway? Or, as happened recently to Second Me, Chocolate Boy said to her ‘We have to top sleeping together. You see there’s this girl I like.’ SM was understandably a little shocked and upset because hello you’ve been dating someone it’s not nice to know you haven’t been picked. And then he says, but let’s stay friends. In fact stick around because I might not like her by next week and then you can be my gold standard standby. My jaw dropped. I mean that was insane, even for CB! And when she was cranky with him, he had the gall to ask her why! He finally capitulated when she told him, hello, what would you do in this space. And then, later again, he says OK let’s start sleeping together again. Props to SM, proving comprehensively she isn’t that much like me, she told him to go to hell.

This let’s be friends thing also. So stupid! I mean hello, okay you have the right to choose someone else, but I have the right to be hurt by your choice and need space! Whether SM and CB in this case and me and the Knight or any of countless people I have dated who have stopped calling or whatever, or even my date from Thursday, I have every right to be upset. But the rules of the game being what they are, I have to either be totes cool with what he did, which granted was not terrible–he fell asleep and woke up at 8pm, thus not actually making a plan for the date, and after his I’m sorry message I haven’t heard from him–or I have to be livid and cut him out and crucify him. Why? Why an’t I just say, hello, I like you, I thought you liked me, it’s fine if you do or you don’t but if you don’t I’m allowed to be a little upset, and if you do I’m going to be a little miffed for the rudeness but hey it’s one minus point in a field of pluses, so as long as you’re sorry and indicate to me your interest by reaching out and making a plan again, it’s done. (The flaking to me is a slight indication of not much interest, which is fine too but then really I’m not going to say ok now when do we meet next? Which is what I used to do and is probably the source of much Doormat treatment but I digress.)

Okay, I of all people do understand that it’s terrifying to let it be known that you like someone and good lord I know the pain or rejection and the horror of dealing with it, the humiliation real or perceived, the irrational fear that he’s telling all his friends how stupid you were to say you liked him and they’re all laughing at you, how can you stand it? But is this any less painful? It doesn’t add up for me, it really doesn’t, so now I just look them in the eye and say hello, is this a date? And when they dither I say, sorry, clear lines. Fuzzing can come later. If we’re hanging out as friends then we’re hanging out as friends and you ain’t gettin any action!