A recent article in my local paper made me chuckle. It's not that the article was meant as a joke but rather a comment at the end of the article posed a question to which the answer should have been obvious. The question was:
"I realize people are out there with very bad track records, but since when did dating become a war?"
The story in question described how Todd Hollis is suing the website www.dontdatehimgirl.com because of postings made on the site about him which are, according to him, completely false and without merit. He is suing the website claiming that they did not do due diligence to verify the veracity of the comments.
The website was created so women could post their comments about guys they had met through online dating sites. Women can leave remarks such as, "Great guy but we just didn't click." or "What a loser! He's married even though his ad said he was single." The website creator, Tasha Joseph, suggested that the site is a good way for a woman to find out about a guy before she invests too much time in him.
That statement from the site creator says it all. No longer is dating an activity to be pursued because one wants to find their 'one and only' but rather, dating is an investment in time. Now, instead of trying to find out if you and the other person get along, one is merely trying to find out how long they should stick around before moving onto the next person.
Who's to blame for this? To be truthful, men are the originators of this concept. After all, they're the ones who are notorious for staying with a woman only so long as she provides what he wants (i.e. sex) at the minimum cost (i.e. free). But now, the tables are turning. Now it is the woman who is deciding how long to stay in a relationship before she decides it's not worth her time. Does this make her a golddigger? Maybe, maybe not.
However, to answer the original question, this is when dating became a war. As women take control of their lives, the expectation that one needs to treat dating like a job interview has come to the forefront. The sense of immediate gratification, the need to spend the minimum amount of time with someone, the desire to be happy, all have contributed to the dating wars.
Does this mean that women are solely to blame? Of course not. They are just giving back what they've had to endure for decades which, in one sense, is a good thing. Now, it is the men who have to be on their toes. Sure, the jerks among us will never change because there will always be that gullible fool who will blindly tread where others dare not. They are more interested in their latest exploit and how quickly they can move on, which insures that the rest of the male population has to suffer the slings and arrows of women everywhere who eye their newest suitor with distrust borne of guilt-by-association.
This change of roles has produced unexpected side-effects, the worst of which is, as already mentioned, that dating is now a war. Another side-effect is that both women and men who fall into the meaty middle of the population, not too tall/short/fat/thin/ugly are finding it more and more frustrating to meet someone because the rest of the group has instilled the idea that only the best will do and if you're not part of the best, you're not worth the effort.
Another, interesting, side-effect is the narrow selection criteria that people, mainly women, want. For example, I have seen personal ads in which the woman says she is 5' 3" but wants someone who is at least 6' in height. Unless she's going to wear stilts all day, she could probably lower her criteria to men who are at least 5' 7" and guarantee a larger selection pool. But she won't. She'll stick by her criteria even if it means whining to her friends at every opportunity that she can't find anyone. Don't believe me? Here are portions of an actual ad found on a well-known dating site. This is all from one ad:
I am a very intelligent and attractive woman age 32 who is seeking a man of the same or higher intelligence to date, fall in love (if it's right) and get married and have children and have a great, wonderful and fun family and adventures. He must enjoy the arts and be sophisticated (at least when need be). He must love the out of doors even if it means instead of "camping" staying at a pricy hotel (ex. Yosemite). He can be adventuresome. Looking for someone like Branson owner of Virgin Airlines or someone it the arts who is successful and financially stable.
. . . . .
I am extremely picky and don't want to fool around with those whom are still searching for their path in life.
. . . . .
I am a talented artist but also was accepted at law school, but currently am writing. I have worked in the film industry. I am currently in PA but am out-of-state many months of the year to CA and to Northern Arizona resort area. I am proud to be a godmother of 2 girls.
Not asking for too much, is she?
Here is something else to consider. When looking at personal ads, as a rule, a woman will put that she is strong-willed and indepdendent. If they're so independent, why are they looking for someone? Women who claim to be independent should be happy with their single lives. Unfortunately, the first word a man will think of when he sees the word 'independent' is bitch. Sad but true.
Does this mean that a woman can't or shouldn't be independent? Of course not. Everyone needs their space and neither man nor woman will long tolerate someone they consider to be a doormat or too clingy. However, independent has negative connotations. The use of the word is the verbal equivalent of crossed arms. When you're trying to get your point across and the person opposite you has their arms crossed, they are sending a clear signal that their mind is already made up and are not listening to you.
Dating is a war because people want it that way. Women don't want the 'nice guy', the ones who can cook, like animals, have a great sense of humor and are stable. Sure, they say they want someone like that but when presented with such a person, women invariably turn up their noses and move on. No, they want the guy who looks like a million but is as vapid as the steam rising from their Starbucks latte. The ones who act like they're on top of the world but in reality are one step away from complete disaster because they lack common sense.
Men don't want women who have brains or who have a variety of interests because that would be an affront their ego. No, they want the women who think that Paris Hilton is the norm and that getting drunk every weekend is the height of culture. The ones who sit at outdoor tables looking oh so chic yet couldn't tell you a thing about the city they're in.
Why? Because dating is now a competition to see who has the more exciting life, who has done more, who has more, who can brag the most without getting caught in a lie. As I said in an earlier piece, what we want and who we want are two different things. This is made more difficult because not only do we want someone different than what we say we do, now we have turned the adventure of finding someone to be happy with into a contest of wills.
Like so many other things in our lives, we have reduced dating to the bare essentials while simultaneously increasing the complexity. We want the perfect mate and don't want to settle for less even though we ourselves are not perfect. We want the fairy-tale dream of having a happy life but are unwilling to take the chances necessary to live that life. We want to be with someone that compliments us but we refuse to consider anyone who doesn't meet our narrowly-defined ideals.
Why? Because people want it that way.