It seems there is a disconnect when I am dating these days. So many of my friends are more interested in hook-ups and dating a lot of people at the same time, while I consider myself more of an “old-fashioned person”, for lack of a better term. I prefer to date one person and really get to know them.
I am not sure whether it is because of the way I was raised or possibly because I think the idea of dating more than one person would be confusing, but I don’t understand the way my friends date. I don’t want to slut shame, or tell other people how to live, but I just wish that I could find someone who prefers to do things the way that I do. Some of the people I hang out with tell me that I should try polyamory or even an open relationship, but it does not make sense to me.
How can I explain to my friends that I am looking for a certain type of romantic relationship?
Let us start by saying that we are absolutely joyous over the fact that you are laying down boundaries and you have a clear concept of what you want in a relationship. In so many answers that we have given to people that is where we are asking them to start. Also, thank you for not wanting to slut shame anyone. We believe that as long as it is legal and consensual, each person can choose the relationship dynamic that feels right for them.
What was interesting as we read your question was the use of the term “Old-fashioned.” It has always been an interesting phrase for us because as we look through the decades of the ways that people have dated, that term does not really have a practical application.
When we refer to the early 1900’s the concept was that a gentleman caller would stop by a young lady’s house and, if invited inside, would sit with the woman and her parents. If he was invited back, he would make several more visits with times specified by the parents. 20 years later this concept was no longer in place and it was seen as unfavorable, and people began to go on dates. On these dates the man was always expected to pay. This was when the verbiage of the time turned from courtship into dating. While at the turn of the century the end goal of courtship was marriage, dating was seen as more about having fun and getting to know people. This is when we began to see people who would date more than one person while trying to decide who they wanted to be exclusive with. Interestingly the popular culture of the time also began to change. Marriage was seen as finding the correct match for your love and falling in love was something that came later. When people began to date, they started to look for love first so that they could find the person that they wanted to marry.
In the 1950’s individuals were still interested in dating both in solo activities but also in group settings, and the term “going steady” began to gain popularity. This is when young suitors started to give their intended a pin, a ring, or their jacket in order to let the world know that they were going to be exclusive, but the act of dating still involved spending time with many people before you decided on which person you wanted to with. Dating also became more sexualized, with terms like “necking”, “petting”, and places like a “lovers’ lane”, gained popularity. It was more of a rise in youth culture, and it was when we truly started to see a rise in slut shaming. As problematic as the film and play Grease is, it documents these trends well, even though it was written many years later.
In the 1960’s we had the advent of birth control and the concepts of free love and the hippie movement. Youth in America began to experiment with the ideas of free love and sex without the constraints of marriage or commitment. Through the 70’s and 80’s people were combining all of these previous ideas of what dating is to find what was right for them, until the early 90’s when internet dating started to become all of the rage. In today’s climate you don’t even have to go to a bar to find what may end up being the right person for you. Folks can just sit and home and open an app on their cell phone.
We only wanted to run down all of that history of dating to make one point. There is no right or wrong way to involve yourself with possible romantic suitors. Within 100 years the concept of romance has changed so drastically that we all need to discover what feels correct for us. The term romance has a different meaning for each person and their own connections. While for one person bouquets of flowers and boxes of chocolates will always be the ideal, other think that a partner who helps them out with chores picks up dinner when they are having a rough day are the perfect match.
With the myriad of ways that Americans have changed the concept of dating in the past century you should not consider yourself old-fashioned because you prefer to date one person, any more than your friends should consider themselves old-fashioned because they are treating it more like a combination of the 50’s and 60’s. We are all just trying to find a way to connect with other people. One truth that we have learned is that regardless of the way you prefer to date, have sex, or connect with other humans, you aren’t the only one. Be honest from the start about what your intentions, boundaries, and preferences are, and you will find someone that is looking for the same thing. Be patient and truthful and you will go far. Best wishes!
The Alaskans have tried dating every way that you can imagine and would love to answer your questions about what they have learned. Send an email to email@example.com to see what advice they have for you.