The concept of dating stretches back to a time I know absolutely nothing about. In fact I often wonder what the very first date was like (can you imagine a time when we didn’t have our phones to check every five minutes?) but as times change and as people change, perhaps our dating habits need to change as well?
In the two years I’ve been writing about dating, the majority of feedback I’ve heard about individual dating experiences is vastly negative. As the world of dating becomes increasingly digital, with it has come a raft of creepies, cons and invites for ‘Netflix and…’ – I can’t even say it.
In fact the interference of technology altogether, seems to have slowly diminished the human aspect of dating that was once more prevalent in years gone by. The more bad Tinder experiences we have and the more people who hound us to reply to their last message all of three minutes after it was sent, the more we become that little bit more cynical towards the next person. I’ve lost count of how many profiles that say: “no hook-ups, must drive, must have own place, must be employed, must be over 5’8. How bad have things gotten that the first thing we read about a person is a list of demands provoked by bad experience? It all just seems a bit bitter to me – dating should be fun! So what is the solution?
When I was on my travels last year I met people from just about every country you could possibly imagine, the most intriguing being my wonderful South-American friends. The more I got to know people, the more we began to discuss life, relationships and interestingly, how we went about meeting people back home. In the UK I suppose the most generic way I could describe a date is to meet someone for a drink or dinner, chat and spend an average of around two to three hours in each other’s company. In South America however, things couldn’t be more different.
In Brazil, a guy may invite his date to more of a gathering as opposed to some one on one time. It’s not uncommon to meet in a bar and find the guy surrounded by friends, their partners and other individuals accompanied by first dates of their own. During the small gathering you might not even chat to your date for all that long, instead you gain just enough insight into each other’s personality within a group setting to allow you to decide whether or not you want to see each other again. This isn’t the norm for every date of course but it was extremely common.
On the whole, everything is very brief but relaxed which people seem to have a strong preference for in that part of the world. When I explained to my friends how in the UK you may spend anything up to three hours alone with a first date, I was greeted with both strange looks and what verged on hysterical laughter. “What if you don’t like them? You’re stuck there!”
Maybe we’re just a little too polite on this side of the world, but I suppose on some level they may just be right.
When we go on dates we’re often guilty of putting the whole occasion on a pedestal, perhaps it’s just the hopeless romantics in us or maybe it’s just convention to an extent? Go abroad however and a date is often considered no more than a simple, social encounter with someone you may or may not be interested in. In fact it’s so simple it’s almost considered irrelevant until you’ve established if there’s a connection.
It seems almost heartless to think a date should have to earn relevance, but on the other hand has dating perhaps become so fickle that this idea now makes sense? I think one of the reasons people’s cynicism is because even one or two bad dates can feel like so much wasted time, wasted money, wasted outfits, the list goes on. But if dates were more casual and I suppose shorter, you may feel like you have a little less to lose. As result, you might just remain more positive and open-minded to future ‘meets’.
This approach may not be suited to everyone and as I’ve written before I’ve had some really memorable dates, but having heard the feedback, read the bitter Tinder profiles and listened to a fair few tales of heartbreak, it might just be the way forward. I’ve long been a supporter of Speed Dating because I feel it’s the closest thing to this philosophy. Having once hosted such events I’ve realised I’m not particularly a fan of overly organised social interactions (try telling 25 women only 4 men have shown up) but the actual concept itself is definitely on the right track.
So if you are genuinely seeking love, why not consider changing your own outlook? There’s nothing wrong with still getting excited about the dating traditions we’ve all grown up with, but if what you’ve been doing just isn’t working, what do you have to lose by mixing things up a little?
If it works in South America and places like New York where this kind of dating has also taken off, then who says it can’t work for us Brits? I don’t think getting a date to bring all of his friends and family along is necessarily the answer, but the philosophy of approaching dating with more of a laissez-faire attitude, could potentially offer a more positive outcome.