Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dating in the Modern World--Not for the Faint of Heart

My Stiletto sisters of Monday and Tuesday have given me plenty of food for thought and I was debating between the “first date” post versus the “guilty pleasure” post. Since writing about my guilty pleasures could take a lot longer than it should, I’ll start with first dates or just dating in general.

I didn’t go on too many first dates, luckily. I was fortunate to meet my husband in college where we first became friends in one of our shared French classes. I was struggling a bit with the material and our teacher—a woman who was truly a Fairy Godmother to me and Jim—suggested that this younger man help me with my studies. Suffice it to say that the only things I can say in French are,“I need more wine, please” and “Where is the bathroom?” but I found my soul mate and the love of my life. So who cares if I confuse the words for factory and pool in French?

For some reason, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about dating mores in the modern world. I find myself having made the acquaintances of younger women and am in awe of what goes on the in the world of 21st century dating. Texting, email, Facebook, Blackberry communication…it’s daunting. Doesn’t anyone use the phone anymore? Or talk to each other face to face? Although back in the day, some of us were known to sit by the phone for hours on end waiting for that special someone to call, is the instant access of today any better? What happens if you text a paramour and don’t hear back from him/her instantly? To me, that seems much worse than staring at a non-ringing phone, willing it to trill. Knowing that everyone is plugged in twenty-four/seven and not receiving a text back would make me nuts. And I think I can safely say that that goes for the women I know out there in the dating world.

Several of my younger friends also do online dating, which I thought would be a good resource until I heard about how many potential dates post pictures of people other than themselves to draw dates in. And of course, I’m a mystery writer, so all I think about is meeting a stranger in a bar for a drink or a cup of coffee and how that scenario could go so wrong. But I also know three friends who met their spouses online; all are happy, well-adjusted, and giant proponents of online dating.

It’s the speed of everything nowadays that gives me pause. A similarly-aged friend and I were talking to a much younger friend who is attempting to embark on a new relationship. This new couple is still sorting things out—the “dance,” so to speak. My advice? Take it slow. Let it marinate. My friend’s advice? Look for a companion. Look for someone to do things with that you like to do. Have fun together. Decide what it is that is a deal breaker and what you can live with, because guess what? We’re not all perfect. Don’t expect him to hang on your every word, or vice versa. Go from sixty miles an hour to thirty and see how that feels.

The younger woman stared at us, dubious, but I did remind her that we have a combined 30 + years of marriage between us, so we can’t be all wrong, right? I know things are different, but are they truly that different?

What’s going on out there in the dating world? Your thoughts from the trenches, please.

Maggie Barbieri


  1. I don't think I could handle modern dating. I haven't done it myself since I met my hubby on the field in our marching band days. (Yep - I'm cool!) We knew we had common interests because we were involved in the same activities, and we took it from there.

    Like you, I've known people who met the people they married through online dating services. My niece and my cousin are successful examples of online dating. (Note: By that I mean that my niece and my cousin met their husbands online. Not that they met and married each other. I'm from the South - but I'm pleased to say we don't go there!)

    I guess what would make me most nervous about online dating is not so much that the person I was considering might be misrepresenting himself, but rather that he might be totally picking apart my profile. When a friend was new in town and was trying to meet girls online several years ago, he printed out a bunch of profiles and was discussing them with my husband. "She's 35 and never married. If she's such a catch, why is she still single?" "She's 30 years old and the first thing she mentions is that she's a former high school cheerleader. Is she so shallow that that's the most important thing she can think of to reveal about herself?"

    Nah - finding out about other people though old-fashioned dating is the way to go. I don't envy those who are still "playing the field."

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