Don’t worry, this won’t be a blog about where has Prince Charming gone, whining about the shock that life isn’t exactly like romance movies. This is a blog written by a woman who would rather watch alien movies than “chick flicks” because aliens are more believable for me. I’m also not a complete cynic. I do believe in love, just that it’s never as clean and perfect as the movies make it seem. This is about living as a twenty-something at a time when the eras of courting have been forgotten. Instead, we’ve regressed a few evolutionary steps to the cavemen times. In addition to my observations of the disturbing, but admittedly amusing, quest for a mate, I’ve also noticed the aggression and violence that has accompanied it, which can’t all be blamed on this caveman era.
In times before (but after the idea of love in marriage), to find a potential relationship, men would ask for a lady’s company and spend initial time just talking (under the supervision of parents, historically). After both had become comfortable with the other, they would then progress the relationship, which if positive would often result in marriage.
Next, instead of visiting within the confines and supervision of a parent’s home, people went on dates. These dates would involve going to the movies, having dinner, or perhaps doing a fun activity together like hiking or miniature golf. After however many dates, the relationship would progress in seriousness, resulting in breakups to find better-suited people or marriage.
Today that has gone. Maybe not for everyone, I’m sure there are still twenty-somethings that go on dates as explained previously. However, I’ve noticed two patterns in relationships.
First is a variation of the before-mentioned dating. Instead of going to movies, dinner, etc. to get to know each other better before progressing the relationship, couples will spend their first or second date “hanging out.” This entails meeting at a local bar/pub, often with friends. It serves as a casual gathering, with the couple interacting with all of the attendees instead of really getting to know each other personally. Interaction is even further limited by the loud music preventing any conversation. Talking mostly involves a lot of smiling and nodding, hoping you’re reading the other person’s lips correctly. After one or two “hangouts” and/or shots of tequila, the couple’s interactions are then often limited to hanging out and having sex. The relationship can either progress, become “friends with benefits,” or become serious with eventual cohabitation and maybe moving even further later.
Second is the greatest tragedy, which I’m going to call “club hookups.” Where do twenty-somethings have the opportunity to meet like-aged people to date? Work relationships are almost always a bad idea and school is always the best “pond” to fish out of either. So you go out, to have a good time and maybe to meet someone. But it isn’t about really finding someone to speak with or get to know. It’s about which person to pick out of a crowd, like a lion picks out a zebra from the herd, that you can grind and rub yourself on and hopefully ply with enough liquor to make her come home with you (see my blog on “Peacocking” for further fun on male clubbing activities). This involves either a one-night “hook-up” or rarely an actual relationship that may eventually settle into dating. Not my cup of tea.
Now, I mentioned violence in this new hunt for relationships, remember? It occurs in the second form of dating. Lately, when at the clubs/bars (and various types, not just the rough ones), I’ve noticed how aggressive and sometimes abusive men can get with women they are trying to “court.” Gone are the days of no-contact until a full exclusive relationship, or the exciting first kiss outside your door at the end of the date. Now when women are dancing, men will not settle with dancing next to them. Instead they creepily stare at them for a minimum of five minutes, then grab their hips or waists (sometimes so hard they bruise), and force-hump on the woman, often with wondering hands. It takes strategic dance moves, good friends, a strategically aimed elbow, or an act of Congress to get away sometimes.
I know some of you may be thinking I’m over exaggerating, that this doesn’t really happen. So I will give you a personal honest account of one of my nights out. A few weeks ago, my friends and I decided to have a girl’s night out. We got dressed up and went to a new, upscale nightclub. Since we were all in committed relationships, we honestly just wanted to dance and have fun with each other. (Yes, some girls really go to clubs just to dance). As we are dancing in a circle, I notice that a guy is starting at me, never breaking eye contact. I try to ignore him, hoping that would signal that I was not interested. If only I was that lucky. He comes over to dance. I think if he just wanted to dance next to me, that was no big deal. However, he grabs my hips, so hard I can feel each individual fingertip bruising my skin, and humping me with such force I am almost falling forward. My first reaction was panicked and I considered elbowing him in the face. But my friend saw and rescued me and we went to dance on a raised portion of the dance floor. The guy takes my leaving as the greatest slight. His friend comes up to the raised floor where I was and sits a finished drink (in a glass) on the side. Then he starts slowly pushing the glass towards me. I realize that he is trying to get the glass under my foot so that I would step on it. As I watch him I’m stunned, thinking that if I step on it, that’s glass and that could seriously injure me. I made sure not to put that foot down. In a spark of temper I kicked the glass into the back of the man’s head.
Convinced now? When I later told me boyfriend about that event, which is one of the reasons I’m on a hiatus from the nightlife, he said it happened because I was a pretty person. While I’m flattered, I think that is similar to the excuse that if a woman is raped it is because she was dressed provocatively and therefore “wanted it.” Pretty extreme example, I know. Regardless of appearance or dress, a woman should never be subjected to that. Every time I have gone out in the past year I have had to physically defend myself, and that’s seen as normal. This is not right. What if my dad, mom, and other relatives and friends had never taught me to fight? What if I had not been a kickboxer in college? It’s not like I’m walking down a dark alley looking for trouble. I’m in very public places with lots of people and nothing is done because this is seen as normal behavior.
Men aren’t the only ones to blame, women are guilty as well. Some encourage this behavior by going home with them and supporting these people. In addition, instead of supporting a fellow assaulted female, they berate her for whatever physical flaw and strive to take her place with the abuser. This is a time to stand together and raise our standards.
I sometimes wonder if there is a relationship between the decline of courtship and dating, aggression in clubs, and the impersonal aspect of beginning a relationship with the rise of domestic violence and high divorce rates.
Another example of the regression of relationships is the language we use. We no longer say dates, instead it’s just hanging out. We don’t have relationships or boy/girlfriends, we are just “talking.” We don’t discreetly say making love, instead it’s a blaring…well, you know.
I’m not asking for relationships to be just like romance movies. (Although I would love a head injury where I woke up to Channing Tatum as my husband, but what girl wouldn’t?) But I would like dating a little more personable. I understand that there are plenty of women out there, but get to know me like I’m an individual person and maybe you’ll understand more of who a person is and whether they are compatible or not, as well as form more meaningful relationships. And for god’s sake, stop humping people on the dance floor.