The rules of modern dating are that there are few rules. Things are different to when mum and dad were dating, that’s for sure. We all need to toughen up and have our shit together to survive the chaos and uncertainty.
That said, good manners never go out of fashion. Even if we are not looking for anything serious, we want to uphold some basic rules of dignity, civility and respect.
So with unscrupulous practices like ghosting apparently on the rise, what are our terms of engagement in modern dating culture? Just how do we withstand, and avoid indulging in, the sprawling possibilities for flakiness?
The relationship accountability spectrum
It’s true that rejection has always been a part of the relationship landscape. But now we have ghosting, and icing and simmering too (definitions provided by Adam Devine below). This means ambiguous endings are on the rise. You don’t need to partake in them though. We’ll get to that in a moment.
Ghosting: ceasing communications suddenly and entirely with someone you are dating but no longer wish to date.
Icing: manufacturing a reason to suspend the relationship a la ‘I’m too busy’.
Simmering: reducing the frequency of dates and communication.
Ghosting, simmering and icing
I think we can call understand why ghosting is tempting. Nobody wants to inflict the pain that a direct communication can cause. But unless you happen to be a psychopath, suddenly disappearing on the person you are dating will haunt you not them. Plus, treating people with kindness and respect is its own gift.
(Note that that’s dating, as opposed to just chatting with someone prior to meeting them. In most cases, it is okay to cease communications with a person prior to meeting them. I can see how it would be annoying if you have invested a lot of time into chatting with them electronically. To avoid wasting your time, I suggest keeping online chatting minimal and just using it to make arrangements for dates.)
Icing and simmering also seem cowardly. Why are we all such cowards?
Relationship expert Esther Perel has an explanation. She says we create these states of ‘stale ambiguity’ because we are too afraid to be alone, but unwilling to fully engage in intimacy building. The resulting holding pattern has a mix of comforting consistency and the freedom of blurred lines.
Thing about blurred lines is…they’re blurry. Over to this guy from Steemit:
Let’s say you just cozy up with a place-holder to pass the time or winter months. This seems to be tempting for some of us. The problem with place-holders is that they tie you up and prevent you from leaping into action when its appropriate to do so. Years could pass and you could end up more and more entangled with them, making things complicated.
When you’re ready for a quality mate and they finally present themselves, will you be in a position to step up and claim them or will you be prevented by the suddenly-inconvenient bed-warmer on your arm?
We can choose to end this at any time, and do power parting instead (more in just a second).
What if you’re the recipient of icing and simmering? Here’s my advice to you my friend: assume maybe means no, unless and until you are proved otherwise. Remember your sense of self worth. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and have the faith that something better for you is out there.
Is there an alternative to the depressing passive ways to conclude relationships?
Yes; we can go in for a bit of power parting. Power parting is the dying art of decisively ending something conclusively in language that cannot be misinterpreted by wishful thinking.
Power parting is our passport out of dodge, when it comes to modern dating dilemmas. The refreshing integrity of power parting leaves everyone feeling satisfied.
How to do power parting
Power parting takes all of the skills.
First and foremost is self awareness: you have to know yourself well enough to know when something isn’t working. Close second skill is integrity: doing what we say we are going to do. We also need to trust in the future, and that we do not need to compromise or settle in case nobody else comes along. And we need to be okay with taking some (or a lot) of solitary time when nobody suitable is around.
It is worth brushing up on these skills.
The better way to find your perfect match
People are looking for needles in haystacks. But by the time we find the needle, we might have wasted decades of life and not even be the same person anymore. Maybe we’ll not even want the same needle we started looking for.
Instead of playing Where’s Wally?, it might be easier to flare a light in the sky and allow Wally to find their way to us. We have to help ourselves, by leaving the house. But the point that it is much better to focus on developing our own value so that we attract better people to us.
As a wise divorcee wrote, we have to be clear in our own minds about what we want and understand what our ideal mate would want.
Would your perfect mate want you as you are now? If not, then good: you’ve got some work to do.
When you start attracting Wallys, how do you efficiently screen them? How long should you date someone before deciding?
Just how do we sort through the crazy?
Our Steemit guy seems to have the answers:
If all goes well and the prospect gets through your filters, there will be plenty of time for romance afterwards. On a first date however, you’ve gotta focus on the task at hand. Stay cheerful and pleasant, of course, but no matter how adorable they seem, it’s important to keep a clear head and not let yourself get blinded by the chemical reactions going off in your brain.
Sometimes, half the battle is staying above our own biochemistry and impatience…