It is interesting considering the world from a different point of view while traveling. I see things in myself and how I behave and present myself that I would never probably notice if I were doing the same activities back home.
Three weeks into my current journey and I find myself with a different perspective on the world form that which I left with many days ago. It is not my first time here, and hopefully, it will not be my last. Unlike before where the abbreviated trip left me with sets of emotions and conceptions I was only beginning to comprehend, I now have more time to reflect upon them and consider their full depth and breadth.
Previously, I noted dating was somewhat disposable in the modern age. There is no incentive to commit to dating because modern technology presents an enormity of potential new, and perhaps even better options than ever before, so why settle.
As I make my way through another country, one where I know not the native tongue or the customs well enough to fit it, it makes me reconsider how much I take for granted about my own home region. In the greater tri-state, dating is a sprint, it is the quickest point to a hookup. There’s little to be found of romance or deep-rooted connections, it’s a merry-go-round of possibilities all of which need to be experienced before the next turn. That is not to say people here are any different, per se. But rather, the expectation of a date is not just to pass time till the next date. There seems to be an underlying and inherent desire to find some foundation more after the lustful excess is worn out.
In contrast, many times, I felt something on dates I could never put my finger on back home. That was, the idea the person was always looking past the moment, over my shoulder so-to-speak, for something more. As if what was in front of them might not even be enough, even if, for that one moment, it was. There’s this whole non-committal affair of the safe first date drawn together by the easy to bail out of cup of coffee and quick conversation.
Time is, of course, of the essence in the tri-state. Why waste time on something that probably will not work anyhow. Being of the typical American ideal, I can understand that myself, as I myself am as guilty as anyone of prejudging the potential based on a passing first encounter. However, I also know from my own personal experience that deep-rooted friendships and whole-hearted commitments to anything are rarely born in a moment, they manifest over time.
Investing in time is not a necessity in the tri-state though. The thought is, generally, if it is not exactly as I might have imagined it than it must not be right. If it must not be right, than why hang around? Well, truthfully, in a city of 8 million people with a suburban sprawl of close to 30 million, why would you not play the whole field, so to speak? There’s bound to be that fairy tale match, if not in the next date, maybe in the subsequent few. So, we hop from horse-to-horse on the merry-go-round, maybe hop off it completely for a time, but never ride one for the full ride to the end, to that quintessential ‘till death do us part.’
The problem is not though what we think we want. It’s what we really need. Rarely does what our perceived want and our actual need line up, especially on a projected set of first impressions. Rather, we believe we know what’s best for ourselves and decide based on this small sampling of data and our own mal-conceived interpretation of it based solely on our own personal experiences that we know what we want and confuse that even more with what we really need.
Worse than mis-understanding these elements, rarely are we fully truthful in the recollection of them in the first place. We fall prey to sociological ideals in defining them, whether we want to believe it or not. S/he is in the wrong occupation, or looks a certain way, or has some quirk that no one else would get that make us then re-double our inability to judge correctly because we become neurotic, if only subliminally, about what others might think of our choices. After all, humans are social beings and crave acceptance.
The acceptance we really need is from ourselves first and the partner second. All too many in the tri-state still haven’t come to terms with themselves and could never actually fathom true acceptance from anyone else because we are not fully trusting of our own peer set, so how could we possibly trust someone new to it on a date.
Rather than becoming excited at the commonalities and searching for the bonds to build upon the foundations of a friendship on the first dates, it becomes more of a screening away of anything dubbed potentially bad. He wears boxers and not briefs. She wears Target and not Prada. He listens to metal and not pop. She reads Glamour and not the New York Times. He is too shyly intellectual. She’s too outgoing and flirtatious. The negatives begin to drive the interaction rather than the positives and the process becomes, well, ‘I’ll bet there’s still that one perfect one out there, I’m not settling for a boxer wearing, metal nerd,’ when that might be precisely the right match.
Perfection is a stereotype as much as any other set of qualities can be, it is just more ambiguous than say the typical defitions associated with race and religion and the like. Yet, we do not hold the negative bias toward it because the belief is such that it is an attainable goal and not a stereotype.
I am not advocating not striving to find the right person. Merely, I am noting rather, the process should not be about simply noting the wrongs and trying to correct them. It is a truly different way of critiquing the given situation.
Anyone can find fault and walk away from it, especially when the precept of another opportunity is there. What seems to occur is the walking away becomes the primary action, the default, rather than the ability to identify what’s right. It is more about ‘why settle’ than ‘why might this work.’ It becomes more about not ‘what is here’ and more about ‘what I still wish could be.’ It results in ‘
The sad thing is, all to many people who are trapped in the first phrase somehow think they are acting in the second. What they fail to realize is their inherent failure that makes them focus so hard on why they haven’t achieved their goal is truly because they are stuck in the first. It is hardest to step back and recognize the facts when you actually become mired by self-perceived truth. And, as I’ve noted before as well, there’s a distinct difference between Fact and Truth.
All this being said, what I feel is that the inherent nature of dating in the tri-state is such that because seemingly infinite possibility exists it becomes exponentionally more difficult to focus because one can become too distracted by the possibility rather than the reality that is, the perfect person may not be the one you’re hoping to see on the next date, when it might be sitting in front of you and you’re just not prepared to recognize it.
And, that’s the big difference in being away and seeing people interact with one another and the world around them, there’s more of a subtle and inherent understanding of the finiteness of the possibilities and therefore more an ability to define what is truly needed and not perceivably wanted.