If it looks like a date and quacks like a date, it's probably a date

This should absolutely be read with a sense of humor.  I am every bit as exasperated by this stuff as the post hopefully makes it seem, but I can also appreciate how absurd it is to be so.  I'm laughing at myself while writing this, so I hope you, lovely reader, can laugh at me a bit too.  Getting this stuff out with others possibly reading it is very cathartic for me and helps me to put it in perspective.  Who knows, maybe I'm not totally alone in this little shitshow.

I may say "we" a lot, meaning "we as a society," and make a lot of general, overarching statements, but I could be totally off base.  This is 100% subjectively based on my life and times. It'd be dishonest of me to pretend like I have a tremendous world of experience to back up my claims.  I mean, I have enough, but it's not necessarily a huge loss to me if I don't go out with anyone for months... many months... at a time.  So take this all with a grain/spoonful/shaker of salt.  If a "we" statement sounds incorrect, just substitute "John" or "I" and we're back on track.

This is another installment in my attempts to open up a bit more on this website than I have in the past.  There are always things that we wrestle with as humans, but those struggles help make us who we are, and I like who I am so it doesn't make any sense to try and necessarily hide all of those struggles.  Communication and openness are paramount for me, but it's kind of a double standard if I'm always holding back a big part of me.  I know I'm not the only one to feel this way, so might as well get it out there!  

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Dating is weird.

I'm always surprised at how out-of-my-element I feel at points.  It makes a lot of sense to me to be really up front with people about ideas and intentions, and in literally every other part of my life I feel very comfortable being so, but for some reason I've gotten it in my head that that's not the coolest, suavest way to approach dating.  In fact, I feel like much of what has been indicated to me is that it's a bad thing.  I will admit that the subtle unspoken body-language approach is certainly sexier in theory, but for me personally, someone who would frown on any other approach to the point of bailing is also probably not someone I care to be dating. I find this desire to leave things unspoken highly tricky; I often find myself thinking "how is all of this uncertainty and awkwardness even marginally romantic?!" (I realize though that uncertainty and awkwardness are not the romantic part...).  I can also admit that you don't see many romantic comedies where people lay this stuff out to each other ahead of time.  In a rom com everything is also always certain and without awkwardness, or is awkward in a delightful way, but the world isn't a rom com so let's move past that.  

Since so many things often go unspoken, other questions also crop up for me: what does a date look like?  Do you have to declare it a date ahead of time?  How do all parties know it's a date?  What if one person wants it to be a date but the other person just thought it was hanging out?  Should I just be assuming these days that everything that isn't a group of friends going out is a date?  How many dates should you wait to kiss someone goodnight?  What kind of kiss should it be?  How can you be sure that someone's into you?  When do you ask someone if they'd like to go out again?  If I am just very up front, as I am inclined to be, about being into someone, is that offputting?  So perplexing...

Correct answers:
(Anything!; no; they don't; that sucks, but hey, shit happens; maybe?; 2? 12? 150? This is one of the things I'm bad at...; super sloppy, lots of tongue, definitely; I guess you could ask? Seems a little awkward though, even to me; definitely now. stop reading and go do it.; maybe? shit I dunno, that's why I'm asking!) 

Most of these questions really don't have answers despite my facetious (but highly accurate, especially the kissing ones ;-) ) ones above, at least not clear ones that apply in all cases.  It's all about just reading the situation and going for it when you think it's right.  But I'll be damned if I don't keep asking myself every single last one of them!

I definitely think the my minimal date frequency (158 nHz for you nerds out there) is a contributing factor to why I get so vexed when it comes to the details of this delicate little dance we do.  Despite what often gets said, I don't think it's actually that hard to meet new people in LA.  What IS difficult out here is meeting good people, and where the "myth" comes from is that it is damn near impossible to meet good people, who  are adequately developed intellectually and emotionally, and that you actually have enough in common with that you could manage a friendship or a relationship.  That has honestly been my experience though everywhere, but being in LA and constantly surrounded by people that all look like they're having the time of their lives can throw into relief my desire to just be alone sometimes and make me wonder if I'm doing something wrong.  It's an effect that we attribute to social media a lot, but it exists in the real world too.

Abby Howard (author/illustrator of Junior Scientist Power Hour and Last Halloween) has a great comic that captures what's it's like having some level of social anxiety (and also owning a cat):

It's a preeeeetty perfect comic.  I think there are more of us highly-functioning hermits than we realize.  We like other people a whole lot but are very overwhelmed, very easily by all of it.  Just... everything.  For all of the rational self-awareness, the actual ability to wrestle it into submission and then wield it does not come easily.  That being said, it does tend to make people pretty astute observers of the worlds in which they live, which is not always a bad thing. Can get pretty exhausting though.  

Anyways, those are some Sunday morning thoughts on friendships and dating. 

<3,
John

P.S. Can someone please explain to me why the "Insert/Overtype" button (just above the "delete" key) on keyboards was ever invented?  That is the dumbest key I can possibly think of.  I'm sure that there is a use for it, but sheesh, in 20 years of using computers I have yet to experience it as anything more than an inconvenience.  Ok, now I'm done.