The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

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The bureaucracy of dating

I am often reminded of how much things have changed in the relationship game since I was in high school.  I have to say that it’s only been about five years since I left high school, but it already feels like a generation gap is forming.

On a recent visit to my old stomping grounds I ran into a student that I formally coached in volleyball.  It was the Friday before Valentine’s Day and she was proudly brandishing the spoils of the holiday.

When I asked her who the flowers and stuffed animal were from, she tentatively, but with a huge smile, responded, “My boyfriend.”  I did the polite thing and “eagerly” asked the details of the lucky guy, but couldn’t help but me a little surprised.

I wasn’t surprised that this young girl was in a relationship, it was more about timing. When I had last spoken to this particular student she was not in a relationship, and our last meeting couldn’t have been more than a month old.

She told me that they had started talking about a month ago, now it made sense.  For those of us who don’t understand the logistics of high school dating, here is a quick overview.

Boy and girl meet. Boy and girl start talking (text, phone calls, Facebook, etc.). Boy asks girl to be his girlfriend, girl accepts. The end. All this happens in a span of about 2-3 weeks. To me, this is amazing.

There doesn’t seem to be too much red tape to get to the title stage of a relationship for high school students. Younger people these days who don’t have to worry about passing an 18-unit class load, getting to work on time or paying bills, also don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy of “more mature” dating.

With the lack of red tape for the young, fortunate and naïve teens I have to wonder, why is there a bureaucracy to begin with?

When we are interested in someone, we usually follow steps that closely resemble that of a teenager’s.  We show the interest, initiate the communication and try to see where things will go.  But much like a in line at the DMV, we are waiting for what seems like a lifetime and most of time the result isn’t that satisfying.

Perhaps what makes the dating process so stressful and unfulling is the fact that we are always trying to define what stage we are in.  Most of us don’t want to waste our time, if we will not eventually hear those words, “Will you be my girlfriend/boyfriend?”

So maybe the question wouldn’t be phrased just like that, but really, isn’t that what many of are looking for?  The exclusivity, the stability?  The root of it all really does come down to the idea of always having someone there.

The desire and search for a cure to loneliness has driven many of us to start defining where we stand when even slightly involved with someone.  For many women this is a way to forsee whether the relationship is worth keeping.  And for many men, it’s a way to keep the woman interested (the woman will usually stick around waiting for the definition until she gets a clear idea.)

But putting such an emphasis on getting that definition can more often than not lead to an unsuccessful relationship.  Speaking from personal experience, I know that trying to define what stage I was in did not equate the ultimate definition I was after.

I was once involved with a guy who I thought I could see myself having a future with, a relationship, something stable and exclusive.  Unfortunately for me, I began to set my sight solely on the stable and exclusive part.

Only months after we started talking I thought that I absolutely had to define what the relationship meant.  Were we “just talking”, seeing each other, dating…or were we just two people that hung out occasionally and ended each meeting with a kiss?

When I got so worried about placing a definite definition on the relationship I started to miss out on the good stuff.  I started to question every little action and inaction, and worst of all I began to push him away.

I learned how to really just enjoy someone’s company and let things flow freely. I’m not advocating that we all go out and not try and start serious relaitonships, I’m simply saying that going after that definition off the bat isn’t the best way to go about it.

So maybe we can’t start a full-blown relationship in just a month, but so much of the time just standing in that DMV line can be quite an experience, we never know who we may meet.

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