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August 30, 1999   CONTINUED e-mail e-mail to a friend in need


Dear Breakup Girl,

What ever happened to dating? It seems that in our society, people either hook up and feel rejected or hook up and start dating exclusively (and the evening usually ends in at least a mild hook-up--but not necessarily). What happened to going on dates with guys that interested you, and girls not flipping out if guys went out with a number of girls, too, without looking like a "player." I am not talking about one-night stands or taking advantage of anyone, just good old dating.

--Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

Well, yes. Things used to be simpler. Boy met girl at sock hop, girl waited by phone, boy took girl out for sundae, boy asked girl to go steady, boy asked girl to marry him (after checking with dad), boy and girl settled down in Stepford.

But today, girl meets boy at Gender-Bender nite at Click + Drag. Girl gets boy's beeper number. Girl hacks into FBI system to perform background check on Boy. Girl wonders how long to wait before inviting Boy to her home page. Girl meets Boy's Roommate. Girl likes Roommate better. Girl asks Roommate to marry her. Roommateås two mommies grant blessing.

What happened? Not sure. Part sexual revolution, part industrial revolution, part age of instant gratification, part "The Media" -- you know, where people fall in love in car trunks and sleep together before the first date.

What to do? Well, surely you know that I have long called for a return to Brady Dating -- and I don't mean having two dates on one night, one to a costume party and one to a regular party, so you have to have one wait in the den and one in the living room and then you change into and out of your vampire outfit as you pass through the kitchen.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. But I mean what you mean, JW: Going on Dates. You go out and do something nice and fun. You say good-bye. And you wait (yes, impatiently!) 'til after the next -- or the NEXTnext -- nice and fun thing to say more of a Hello, Sailor! kind of good-bye. I am not talking about playing coy games. I am talking about each of you giving yourselves the dating/breathing room to be sure you're not all, "S/he's the One ... [who called]!" I know how easy it is to get caught up, swept away, spirited off. And far be it from me to question the I-accidentally-grazed-him- with-my-motorcycle- while-he-was-birdwatching- and-he-came-to-my-eccentric-loft- where-I-bandaged-him- with-strips-of-pashmina-and-he-never-left kind of thing Lois Smith Brady writes about in Vows* (I just question why I'm so compelled to read the damn thing every week). But still. I get way too many letters from people who are like, "Well, we met last week and have been together 24/7 but now we realize we don't like each other that much ... but it's going to be kind of hard to break up on account of this mortgage thingy and all." Where's the fire, you guys? Well, I know, but not that kind of fire. Let yourselves have the "will s/he call!?" jitters. Let yourselves have some watch-it-grow fun.

And about the juggle factor -- which, by the way, I say is completely legal, up to a point. When you've gone on a date or two with someone in Brady (Bunch, not Lois Smith) world, you don't talk to them every day; you don't report what you did every night. Not because you're keeping secrets, but because it just doesn't come up. So whatever else you're up to is simply not pertinent, yet. The dilly: you date, you don't lie. You don't say, "YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY THE ONLY PERSON I AM DATING RIGHT NOW, CROSS MY HEART, HOPE TO DIE." And if/when it gets to the point where your conscience (or, in fact, the other person) says the other person assumes exclusivity -- and that they would in fact be tempted to stick a needle in your eye if they heard otherwise -- well, there's your moment of truth. You'll know.

So there.

Try it, you all.

And if something really cute -- maybe even, like, permanent -- happens in the process, write to me. Not Lois.

Breakup Girl

* May require quick free registration. May also cause getting majorly sucked in.



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