Has Dating Become Too Volatile?

Alias (DO NOT USE A REAL NAME!!): Inexperienceddatingbomb
:
Comment: I accidentally submitted my question under the contact section instead of submit a question, so just in case, I’m resubmitting it here:

Hi Moxie,
I find the casual dating scene very confusing/frustrating. I realize that I get excited about a potential connection with someone way to easily, which I’ve been trying to work on, so I feel like I’m just setting myself up for continual disappointment when men have so many other options. I myself am uncomfortable with the idea of seeing multiple people at once before having to decide whether you want to be exclusive, but I realize that is the norm now when online dating. I recently went on a great first date with a guy who I knew was seeing other women casually. We had planned a second date, but he had to cancel, saying he and a another woman have decided to make their casual relationship a more serious arrangement and he wouldn’t be seeing anyone else for the time being. I was really disappointed because it was a great date and thought we had potential, he said so as well in his last text to me, but I’m rambling, that’s another story. Anyway, it got me thinking, I have no idea when it’s okay to ask about being exclusive with someone. I have very little dating experience and if not getting the chance to see a great guy again after a first date makes me consider giving up, I can’t imagine how crappy I’d feel if I would’ve slept with him first. For me, I don’t want to have sex before exclusivity because I know I’ll have a hard time not getting emotionally attached at that point. However, in the past, I’ve slept with someone as soon as our 4th date and I’m not sure if that’s too soon to bring up exclusivity or the where is this going talk. Are they even one and the same discussion or two separate talks at different points in a developing relationship? How and when is the best way to discuss this? What are the expectations/norms regarding sex and casual dating? I’m so lost when it comes to trying to navigate the dating scene. I know the advice you‘ll probably give is to not date casually if I’m not comfortable with it, but that seems to be the only option nowadays. Besides, I’m not sure I’m ready to jump into anything serious right away since I’ve no idea what I’m doing, but that’s an issue to discuss with my therapist lol. In the meantime, I just want to try to mitigate my heartache and get a better understanding of how this is supposed to work.

Thanks
Age: 27
City: Edm
State: AB

 

If there is one thing that makes dating such a mine field these days is how quickly people’s statuses change. Someone can go from being dateless for two months to booking three dates in a week. Or they can be totally into you 9seemingly) and then captivated by someone else a few days later. It’s happened to everybody, including me.

The guy who cancelled your second date saying he and a woman he had been casually dating had decided to make things more serious? That’s totally possible. It could also totally be a lie. You’re never going to know.  What you can be assured of is that it doesn’t really have anything to do with you. (Unless it happens consistently.)

Understands this: you’re going to get attached whether you sleep with him or not. The “I don’t want to sleep with him and get attached” excuse is another one of those myths that gets perpetuated and it’s simply not true. The propensity to get attached already exists. The sex just makes it seem more intense.

You should tell a guy what you’re looking for whenever you feel comfortable. If that’s on the first date or fourth date or twentieth, so be it. Just understand that people lie. If that guy is just looking for something casual, or he has no options at the moment, he’ll think nothing of telling you what you want to hear. He’s not binding himself in any legal or ethical sense. Other than potentially getting some angry text messages when he emails you to break things off, there are no damaging repercussions to agreeing to be exclusive with someone. So, you can bring up your expectations, just do it knowing whatever you hear may not be the truth.

I think typically there are two separate conversations. The first one occurs before you sleep together where you tell the other person what you’re looking for and see if you’re on the same page. After only a few dates I think that’s the best you can reasonably hope for in such a short amount of time. The next conversation, also known as “The Talk”, usually occurs once a level of consistency has been established. There’s no set time for either of these conversations.

I don’t think you can expect someone to commit to you after just a few dates. I also think it’s a fool’s errand to try and get someone to commit to you before you have sex. Yes, casual dating is one of the norms now, but it can and often does lead to serious relationships. It doesn’t always backfire, regardless of what your girlfriends tell you. People – men and women – are just taking longer to commit.

I think the most productive approach is to go in to each situation with the understanding that you’re just going to have to take a leap of faith and if it doesn’t work out, on to the next. I get why that’s intimidating, but it’s really the only way you’re going to be able to cope with how volatile and unpredictable dating can be.

 

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26 Responses to “Has Dating Become Too Volatile?”

  1. bbdawg Says:

    OP the best thing to do is to have an idea of what you’re looking for (i.e. what you are open to and what your no-nos are) and to just make a point of going out and meeting people. It’s really not in most women’s nature to try and meet lots of men all the time (we’d rather just focus on one person…) but you kinda have to do it until you find someone who is on the same page as you.

    The thing with dating is that nothing means anything until it does. Basically, you will find people that you like but don’t like you back and vice-versa, and people who will change their minds or what not and most people are meeting others all the time as well. you start to not take things personally. And you learn that the “I had a great time”/”me too thank you!!!” is meaningless polite conversation.

    Consistency is more important than a connection. You will find people that you feel “chemistry” with who will fade, and others who you may not be super crazy about who will be consistent and show up and call when they say they will. It’s a numbers game in my opinion, you just have to do it even if you’re not super into it. Once it becomes a habit, you will get a better at it. Just see it as an opportunity to meet people. And from those you meet you will find out pretty quickly who you’ll choose to sleep with and/or date. You won’t know how any of this will really turn out in a few months time, but you have to give it a try. Good luck!

    • PwdrPuff Says:

      I completely agree with bbdawg and believe that through experience and age, you will gain wisdom. I completely feel for all the 20 somethings that keep writing in confused about this new hookup culture. However, I don’t think we are completely destined to perpetually date casually in this day and age, nor do I think that every guy is after a pump & dump.

      Best thing to do is know that not every 1st, 2nd, or even 3rd date is going to develop into something substantial, even if you really like the person and believe there’s something there. Consistency is key in knowing if the person is willing and ready to develop something with you. Just be sure to allow things to happen organically, and not let anxiousness overrule you. I think this anxiousness and inexperience is the real reason many of the woman keep writing in perplexed where it all went wrong with Mr. Wonderful.

    • KK Says:

      “Consistency is more important than a connection. You will find people that you feel “chemistry” with who will fade, and others who you may not be super crazy about who will be consistent and show up and call when they say they will”?

      First of all, I’d say that chemistry and a connection are two completely different things. You can feel an insane physical desire for someone, which can feel like a connection. And/or you can feel an actual emotional connection, which is so easy to confuse with a physical attraction.

      Consistency, I agree, is far more important than any sort of physical attraction. But consistency is not more important than an emotional connection – they are equally important. After all, you can’t know if the connection is real unless the person consistently calls you back. But the only reason why a person will consistently call you back and see you is due to an emotional connection.

  2. Princess Buttercup Says:

    How ironic. I was coming here to ask exactly the same thing lol. I think everyone wants reassurance they are liked and special and blah blah blah. But you might not be to everyone. And it is true… lots will lie and tell you what you want to hear. Much to think on.

    • PwdrPuff Says:

      I think the point is, you won’t need extra reassurance if you are with the right person and things are developing well. And you wouldn’t be worried about being lied to, if you use your critical thinking skills and intuition.

      • KK Says:

        If you’re with the right person? I don’t know. I don’t think there’s one right person for everyone, and I think it puts so much pressure on us to think of “the right person.” I think that for most of us there are some people with whom we have an amazing connection, and others with whom we don’t, and when you’re with someone with whom there’s a great connection, you don’t need to question a damn thing.

        For the OP, why not just assume the guy was telling the truth? First, if it doesn’t happen often, then it’s probably not your fault. Second, if there wasn’t anyone else then most likely he’d just blow you off and not say anything to you at all OR he’d just tell you how you seem great and blah, blah, blah.

        But most importantly, I can say that when I met the guy I’m seeing now, I was dating a LOT of guys. The only difference between him and the other guys was the emotional connection. I had an amazing time with those other guys, and I genuinely liked all of them, and how I felt had nothing to do with them, None of them did anything wrong.

        • PwdrPuff Says:

          I think you misunderstood me. By the right person, I don’t mean a destined sole-mate people refer to as “The One” or the love of your life. I just meant someone who you click with (connection/chemistry…whatever you want to call it) and has the same level of interest in pursuing something further. That’s it.

          The old saying, actions speak louder than words, is especially true for most men who will rarely if ever initiate any relationship talk. Even then, you should would always follow your gut, even if things seem kosher at the surface. It’s there for a reason.

  3. Damien Says:

    This comment that “men have so many other options” these days is complete bunk.

    From a guy’s perspective, we would say that women have so many other options these days. In certain cities, that is certainly the case because there are more single men than women. Maybe this is not the case in NYC, I don’t know about NYC, but it is the case in a lot of places where I have been. I would say Edmonton Alberta also skews towards more single men than women. Not as much as Calgary Alberta (because of the oil industry), but close.

    When I see comments like “men have so many options,” I see this to mean that the top about 5% or so of single guys have many options and that is indeed the case. You are aiming out of your league. If they are that good looking and still single, it is by choice. As an earlier post advises, lower your expectations, be more open minded, and quit being deluded that you can aim above your league.

    • bbdawg Says:

      I think it’s true that (professional) women are mostly only interested in the top 20% of men online. And among these men, there are relatively few of them looking for a monogamous relationship/girlfriend. So the pool women seriously consider, is actually tiny in comparison to the actual numbers of men online.

      Even the men who contact you, there are so many “poly”/looking for NSA-casual/one-liner dudes that obviously among the men who show interest only about 20% of these are actually interested. Among these you select the ones you can have a conversation with and so forth. And you go from there. This is before you actually meet people.

      Someone said on another thread that if women were more relaxed about the casual sex thing and dropped the search for “the one” with long requirements there wouldn’t be as many single women. The problem is that the search for security and protection is a much higher drive in most women (I’ll speak for myself here) than the need for sex and casual sex is so, so cheap, that there is nothing that’s appealing about it to most women.

      So many women are only really willing to sleep with men who offer (the initial illusion of?) security, protection and the possibility of having a family.

      • PwdrPuff Says:

        I’m not so sure that this “top” %/echelon of daters, that everyone keeps referring to, is defined the same from person to person. But I do think there is probably a relatively small portion of desirable and committal men that are actually on the market at any given time. The large majority are not available, either because they are married, NSA, have commitment issues, or you wouldn’t want them due to their issues with woman or themselves.

        So yes, I do agree that most desirable daters do appear to have more options. For everyone else, it’s just the illusion of endless options (ie that’s why their still single).

        Yeah, I don’t think I believe in the “One” or that we have many “Ones” out there. Or as the OP calls it “the lover of her life”. If that were the case, then why are they not together anymore?

        • PwdrPuff Says:

          Scratch the last part. I think I’ve read so many of these letters, they are all starting to melt into one.

      • Damien Says:

        The same applies to “professional” men. I want a woman who can hold her own financially.

        In the past, I’ve dated women that were going nowhere career-wise or had limited earning potential. I just did it because they were hot and very sexually attractive to me (and they knew they were hot, which presented attitude problems). I’ve also dated women who were successful professionally. They weren’t that attractive in physical appearance and were even a turn off in their control issues, but paradoxically, I am turned on by the bitch with balls attitude. In both cases, the sex was great, but I saw no long term potential. They may say that I was that guy that can’t commit, or that I pumped and dumped them. From my perspective, I just out there dating, being driven by what turns me on. I just cut it off when I saw there was no LTR potential.

        We all want it all: earning power, attractiveness, sex appeal. I have resolved to focus on the long term. For me, that means dating women that are not corporate ball busters, not obsessed with their career, but prioritize LTR over career, and are really into me. The choices become much narrower. Basically, I am compromising on the sexual attraction criteria and making personality the top priority. I am dating someone now with whom the sex is not that great at all, but I see lots of serious long term potential. Would I have considered her years ago? No, but it took me all this dating experience to reach this point.

        • PwdrPuff Says:

          How can you see LTR potential with someone that you freely admit to not enjoying sex with?

          • fuzzilla Says:

            Yeah, it’s one thing to say, “Sure, I have crazy intense, melt-your-face-off sex with Gina, but Susie has a great personality and similar values.” To not enjoy sex with Susie Sensible at all, though? I guess sex really isn’t that important to some folks..?

            I’m with you, I think de-prioritizing sex too much is planting seeds of future resentment/cheating. (Also, I think it’s been mentioned here before that you should thoroughly communicate what you want with your partner before concluding they’re bad in bed. Assuming you see relationship potential, anyway. Sometimes you do communicate and they still suck, but at least be able to say you did your part).

  4. LostSailor Says:

    I find the casual dating scene very confusing/frustrating. I realize that I get excited about a potential connection with someone way to easily, which I’ve been trying to work on, so I feel like I’m just setting myself up for continual disappointment…

    This, to me, is the key. Whether men have other options isn’t the point. The real problem here is getting overly excited about a potential connection. We’ve seen this in other OPs who invest in the potential and spin scenarios in their heads, building up a date unreasonably. I have no idea if this OP is doing that, but she states right up front that she knows what the real issue is.

    She may be right that it’s an issue for her therapist. Or, she could try to scale back the expectations. Yes, it’s a difficult balance to achieve, being excited and interested in a date yet, without actually expecting anything to come of it.

    I call it Zen Dating. When dating, just remember Ohm…

  5. Keep it Simple Says:

    I believe a woman’s desire or drive for ‘casual’ sex is equal to men.

    The difference is even for casual sex, women need to feel a connection, whereas a lot of men only requirement is that she has a vagina.

    • PwdrPuff Says:

      I’m going to have to disagree with on the part where you think all women that prefer casual sex “need” to feel a connection. I don’t know a lot of women that truly prefers casual sex dating or just DTF, but the ones I do, they could care less about feeling a connection. The only requirement they have a superficial and sexual in nature.

    • bbdawg Says:

      Yeah then why are there no websites, books, magazines or professional advice givers on how to get casual sex from men??? Because the supply far exceeds the demand. Why are there very few or no male prostitutes catering to women?

      Compare that to “how to get a man to commit”., “how to find a husband”, “how to tell if he has long term potential”.

      “Connection” to women means an emotional connection which by definition is the opposite of what casual sex really is. The problem with casual sex for women isn’t the sex itself, it’s the fact that women have no emotional boundaries when it comes to sex, we do not compartmentalize. We get attached.

      And a woman I can tell you that there is nothing worse, and I classify that as the absolute worst feeling in a encounter with someone, than the feeling that you are not protected or cared for, which is what you get after casual sex: bam wham thank you mam. The worst. The relative upper of sex does not compare to the cold and impersonal disheartening feeling you get when someone has no emotional investment in you whatsoever, “bye see you later”. it’s a terrible feeling.

      So it pays to be selective. If sex is so easily available for a woman, and if her ultimate goal is NOT sex but security and “love”, why bother sleeping with a man who does not care and has told you so from the beginning? That defeats the purpose of everything.

      • ATWYSingle Says:

        Yeah then why are there no websites, books, magazines or professional advice givers on how to get casual sex from men??? Because the supply far exceeds the demand. Why are there very few or no male prostitutes catering to women?

        As usual, you’re oversimplifying.

        There aren’t any books or courses or coaches that advise women on how to get casual sex because it’s hardly difficult to find some random guy who will have sex with you. The book would have one page. Like it or not, KIA is correct when he says that many women prefer some kind of connection even when they’re engaging in casual sex. Most men aren’t as discerning.

        The reason why you don’t hear of women hiring male prostitutes is that women are assumed to be able to get laid with little effort. To admit to paying for one makes the woman look defective in some way. That’s why checking the casual sex box on a profile is often considered counter-intuitive. Most men assume most women can get laid easily. Because of that, they assume the use of sex is some kind of trick or that there’s something critically wrong with her that she can’t laid the “normal” way. That’s why many women keep that stuff on the down low. You don’t hear of women seeking casual sex as often is because they’re stigmatized for it.

        The problem with casual sex for women isn’t the sex itself, it’s the fact that women have no emotional boundaries when it comes to sex, we do not compartmentalize. We get attached.

        Please stop speaking for all women when you’re really just speaking for yourself. Plenty of women can compartmentalize and don’t get attached or do get attached but don’t have emotional breakdowns about it and just deal with it. Not everybody thinks like you, and those who don’t think like you aren’t defective in some way. Just different.

  6. Keep it Simple Says:

    Fair enough, but i’m not referring to emotional or relationship connection, I’m talking about connection as it relates to attraction.

    I’m convinced that many men have slept with women they didn’t even find attractive, simply because they were offered sex and they don’t turn down sex…period. No connection needed, just a vagina that’s open for business.

    Sex comes easier for women, so many don’t have these desperado tendencies

    • LostSailor Says:

      I’m going to have to disagree here. Like Moxie said above to bbdawg, you can’t really speak for all men. While I will agree that some desperate men will take sex with absolutely anyone if it’s offered, not finding any connection or attraction doesn’t mean a man will automatically screw just because there is a vagina available.

      bbdawg tries to paint all women as slaves to their emotional connection when it comes to sex, while you are positing that all men are slaves to their dick if there is an open vagina nearby. Both are false and actually rather insulting…

      • Keep it Simple Says:

        No where did I state I speak for all men or that my point applies to all men. It clearly states “many men”.

        Here’s more evidence to support my point.

        This is one of the reasons why millions of men are mass copy and paste messaging women on dating sites….wait for it….even women they clearly don’t match well with.

        It’s because they are not looking for a match, connection or attraction, just the nearest vagina that’s DTF.

        Here’s the oversimplified version of dating in a nutshell.

        Many women are desperate for relationships. (which is why many of these letters have the same tone, questions and feel.)

        Many men are desperate for sex. (which is also shown in their actions).

        Is it less insulting since I basically called everyone a desperado now, instead of just some men…LOL.

        • Lizzie Says:

          Of course simplifying doesn’t help in a discussion at all. I am rather promiscuous because 1) I think men are incredibly attractive and if they turn me on, I’m good to go; 2) I’m very curious and if I think a person is fascinating as a character, I want to find out what that person will be like while having seks, what he feels like, what he smells like, what his face looks like, etc; 3)I wouldn’t want to be with someone with whom I’m not compatible during sex, so it might be that I appreciate someone’s person, fall in love, and then have terrible sex. It would be such a pain to dump someone anyway because of that. I’d rather get to know someone sexually while getting to know them personally, because then I get to see whether it could last.

          A guy could have these exact same reasons to want to sleep with me and it’s not just because I have a vagina, nor is it because he has a penis, even though I love that part about men and straight men love the fact that I have a vagina.

          Additionally, some night’s I’m just looking for sex and I also have to play nice, flirt, listen, etc to get it from a guy that meets my standard. I can tell you: it’s tedious, so in some twisted way it enhances my respect for guys who deal with all the sh*t women pull. Advice for everyone male/female alike; be interesting and respect others.

          Finally, men also prefer good sex and sex is better with some sort of connection – could be a physical one though – because both parties need to feel as if they are allowed to enjoy having/sharing sex. What makes them feel like that differs, otherwise we’d have perfect sex with everybody and then it wouldn’t matter at all who your partner would be.

  7. Mark Says:

    Sorry OP. But you seem unsure of what it is you seem to want or what you are looking for in someone.

    On one hand you say “I’m not sure I’m ready to jump into anything serious right away since I’ve no idea what I’m doing”.

    While on the other hand you also admit “I know the advice you‘ll probably give is to not date casually if I’m not comfortable with it, but that seems to be the only option nowadays”.

    The two thoughts are seemingly at odds with each another. So until you get a clearer idea of what you want and why you want it I’m not sure you’ll resolve the dilemma.

    Another thing to remember is that it is a rough and tumble world. So it might be a good idea to manage expectations and get too invested too early in any one person. That’s putting the cart before the horse. Especially after only one date or two. All too often, things need to be played out and only then can you assess if someone matches up with you and you with them. Casual but not too casual. Serious but not too serious. If that makes sense.

    Sounds circular, I know. But if you have confidence in who you are and a more defined idea of what you are looking for then the process will become much easier.

    Best of luck and hope things improve.

  8. AnnieNonymous Says:

    The LW seems very self-aware and is asking all of the right questions. I hope she figures out a path that’s right for her, because honestly, the only actual answer (for any of us is), “Idk, you’ll be exclusive with a guy whenever his whims dictate it.”

  9. Lizzie Says:

    Dear OP, I agree with Mark up to a point. See what you want for yourself. In the meantime I’d advice you to be open about your feelings concerning being exclusive. I can imagine that there are guys out there who are actually looking for a woman like you, who doesn’t want to date superficially but genuinely wants to give someone a chance. If your date responds by running away from you as fast as he can, he’s not the guy for you. If he lies to you then he’s a jerk and that has nothing to do with you. And if he’s interested you can try and see how it goes exclusively. If you change your mind, it happens. If he changes his mind you’ll have a heartbreak and you’ll try again. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be treated with respect and treating someone else respectfully as well, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for this standard for the time being, even if it’s a first date.

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