The dating game is tricky because the rules vary from person to person. These differences are compounded in India where attitudes of appropriate behaviour range from arranged marriage to casual sex. We’re also raised amidst a wide array of cultures, which makes life even more complicated. Unfortunately, not only do we all have different rules, we often make the mistake of applying our rules to other people’s actions.
These perceived rules also vary by gender. While some men may run from commitment, cheat at every given opportunity, and are only interested in getting a woman into bed, you cannot paint a whole population of people with one brush. Similarly, while some women do not want physical intimacy without commitment and bring up marriage in that very first chat, not all hold these views. This is no judgement of either of these two types of people, but basically to say that they are not all-encompassing.
The first few dates or the beginning of any relationship – be it casual or serious – are the trickiest in this regard. Things may be misunderstood or misconstrued, and actions judged and evaluated. Someone may make a decision on the future of a relationship based on this.
There are a few areas where this really comes into play.
Appropriate First Date Etiquette:
Is it appropriate for a woman to ask a man out? What constitutes an ideal first date? Should the man always pay? Some believe that women who ask men out would be judged as too forward, but not certainly every man feels this way. Whether or not a man should pick up the tab, at least in the West, is a hot topic of debate: some argue that it’s the 21st century and women are earning, while others argue that chivalry still has a place in today’s world.
When are you exclusive? First date? First kiss? When you get the boyfriend/girlfriend title? Non-exclusivity, though it can be a healthy way of making sure a relationship goes slow, can cause petty jealousies and make a relationship sour quickly. On the other hand, exclusivity, when someone is not ready, can be stifling and lead to frustration and resentment.
This is a loaded one, and very difficult one to navigate in the Indian context. There are people who feel strongly that early physical intimacy will ruin a relationship, and there are others that feel it shouldn’t matter. What’s most important here is that both people are comfortable and relatively close to being on the same page.
The ‘M’ word is probably the most difficult. There are some people that need just a few months before they take the big plunge, while others need years and perhaps a live-in situation before they decide to take the step. Like in exclusivity, a mismatch here can lead to bitterness – so both sides need to be clear on this.
These are only a few of the areas in which our ‘rules’ can vary widely. There are no right or wrong answers in any of these things – there is only right or wrong for you and the other person. The only way to really navigate these things is communication and understanding.
As people move into their thirties, they tend to judge quicker and be much less forgiving. This trend is understandable; for those of us who want to get married and have a family, time is running out, and we don’t want to squander it on people who don’t fit the bill. However, even if you and a potential partner cannot see eye to eye on something, it is worth at least making the effort to find out their opinion. You may learn something new, and that can only help you in the future.
Did you connect with some of the above points? Have a story to share with us about your own experiences? Let us know & share your stories with someone who might connect with it!