The Dating Middle-Ground

Ever since I started college, I’ve noticed two major trends when it comes to the dynamics of boy-meets-girl. When both are attracted to one another, they tend to gravitate toward one of these two extremes: either meaninglessly hooking up (however you choose to define those terms) over a certain course of time without regard for anything other than the physical, or they dive into an exclusive, very serious relationship that sometimes resembles a marriage. I’m sure each of those options has its merits, but at only nineteen years old (twenty in less than an hour!) I often wonder how good of an idea it is to stick to such extremes.

On the one hand, we’re young, and we deserve to have a good time. On the other hand, it is important for us to develop strong relationships with the people around us, and surely, committing to one person for a while would help us to do so. (After all, according to many psychologists, now is the time in our lives when we must overcome the crisis of intimacy vs. isolation.) While I agree that it’s best not to rule out anything that is ultimately going to make you happy, I do think that it’s a wise choice to consider the middle ground between these two extremes, and that is going on dates.

It’s a foreign concept for a lot of us, because our generation is so used to either (a) hooking up at a party and then occasionally seeking one another out afterward, or (b) diving into a relationship with someone simply due to a fleeting attraction. The two of you might have nothing in common, but because of a simple feeling, you’re together, quite seriously, even though you might not even know one another all that well.

Going on dates without immediately becoming a couple, however, allows you to recognize that yes, there is a connection between the two of you, and you would like to explore that further. It doesn’t mean you have to spend all of your time with that person and it doesn’t mean that you have to be out with different people all the time, either. But going out with the person you’re interested in and walking around at the park or going ice skating or doing something you love — that’s how you can really get to know someone and see how compatible you are. If you realize that there’s still something there after a few dates, then you might consider an official relationship, but why not have a little fun together first before you launch into something that may not be real?

You’re young and vibrant and wonderful, so you definitely don’t have to settle for a relationship just because you feel like you have to. Be open to meeting new people — don’t just cast someone away because they don’t seem like someone you would be “serious” with — and enjoy your youth. Hopefully someday our generation will revert back to the ways of some of our predecessors, and date won’t seem like such a foreign word. πŸ™‚

6 thoughts on “The Dating Middle-Ground

  1. Nathan Marcello says:

    From the guys side of things I think we rush into things either hooking up or a serious relationship because girls are too quick to put guys in the friendzone. And it is really hard to get out of the friendzone once you are in it. So we guys have learned to act quicker.

    • Valerie says:

      I can definitely see how that would be true… I think it’s an issue on both ends. A lot of girls thrive on being in a serious relationship, too, so they will rush into something with the guy and develop the feelings for him that way. And I think a lot of girls also try to find a lot more meaning in a hook-up than what’s actually there, so that doesn’t help, either. I understand what you mean, though- it makes sense.

  2. NFigure says:

    I think guys have rushed into things ever since the late 80s, when Sebastian came to theaters with his peer pressuring and bad advice:

    “Sha-la-la-la-la-la
    My! Oh! My!
    Look like the boy too shy,
    He ain’t gonna kiss the girl.

    Sha-la-la-la-la-la
    Ain’t that sad?
    Ain’t it a shame? Too bad,
    He gonna miss the girl.”

    • Valerie says:

      Hahahaha, Sebastian and his subliminal messaging. You could be right… but at least he was singing that for a cause. If Eric didn’t rush into things, then Ariel could turn back to a mermaid and belong to Ursula… oh no!

    • Valerie says:

      Thank you so much! It’s funny… we actually talked about this in Sexual Behaviors today and my professor was saying that the whole “going on dates” concept is more of a Western practice and that a lot of other cultures find it kind of offensive. Still, I feel like a lot of people our age don’t focus on that enough– too much push/pull between hooking up with different people constantly and forming too strong of an attachment.

      By the way… I still haven’t seen your blog! You should send me a link.

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