Thursday, October 18, 2007

Definitions

Poor One Girl! She has been dating this guy, and they are at that stage where you begin to wonder and stress about the relationship's "status". Ugh. I hate that feeling. The over-analyzing, the stress, the extra effort you begin to put into the relationship as you "campaign" for girlfriend....

Maybe Stuck's right, and all women are crazy.

But I like to think that men are the same way, sometimes, even if they don't show it or feel that they have anything to do with the issue at hand:

I'm talking about the "Are we dating other people or not?" conversation.

I myself make it a point to rarely, if ever, bring up this topic. In our society, it's often implied that women want a boyfriend yesterday and that we go bat-shit crazy, much like a shark in a feeding frenzy, when it comes to anything bearing a hint of commitment. If asked whether or not we want exclusivity, it's expected that we will reply, "Duh." We have heard all the horror stories of men who went MIA upon even the suggestion of a committed relationship. So for most women, we stay silent out of fear. Which is funny to me, because up until that point, women usually control the pace of the relationship: how often the guy can see us, how many dates we go on before we have sex, when it's ok to meet friends and family, that sort of thing.

(On a side note, maybe I'm weird, but new guys always meet my friends before I meet his. Or maybe I just need a thorough screening before meeting his friends! LOL He's got to be positive I'm not bat shit crazy, you know. Do my female readers have the same tendency? Or is this just a random coincidence for me?)

Men, on the other hand, like to feel as free as James Bond and have options open to them if available. Whether or not they have options is irrelevant. Which is funny to me! They are so optimistic when it comes to the ability to "spread their seed". They just assume lots of women want it in the first place. Or that they will enjoy the wild-oat-sowing at all. Don't they realize that as a friend of mine* once said, "The problem with dating more than one person at the same time is that you don't really like any of them." Add to that the stress that may come from juggling multiple girls, and I'm amazed guys even want to fool with it. I don't know why men are like this, maybe it's something Darwinistic, but for the most part, I think we can agree that just the thought of having a girlfriend or --gasp!--a fiance or wife leaves men clammy and shaking. They want to be desired, but God forbid one woman takes a keen interest in him. They want ALL women to take an interest, which in my experience, is pretty delusional....LOL.

I like to tell myself men just can't visualize all of the wonderful things that can happen in a committed and healthy relationship--trust, intimacy, comfort, better sex, a deep friendship, better sex....yes, that one gets counted twice! But to each their own. I can understand, to an extent. I've been known to hesitate a time or two when the Big Talk comes up. So I can relate a bit. But 90% of the time, I am your stereotypical single girl, chomping at the bit for the permission to use the phrase "my boyfriend" in every day conversation.

So imagine my surprise when, a few weeks back, I suddenly realized that I was not even thinking about exclusivity with CN. It wasn't that I didn't want it -- I did, very much. And it wasn't just that it hadn't occurred to me. It was that I was, for the very first time ever, not even worried about it. The idea was automatically filed under "Bridges We Will Cross When We Get to Them". I was not feeling panicky or concerned about it. There was no nervous flutter in my stomach when he would introduce me to someone. I didn't feel like a little puppy dog, hoping that if I wagged my tail just right, I'd be adopted, so to speak. I didn't feel that need to "campaign".

And I'm not saying that it was assumed we were exclusive, or that it already felt like we were boyfriend and girlfriend. It wasn't like that. I knew we needed to talk about it pretty soon. I wanted to talk about it. But I was not worried about how it would go or where he might stand on the issue. Not one bit. Just like everything else in our relationship, I have felt totally secure and comfortable with what's going on. The "talk" just seemed like the next logical progression in our relationship. Like a no-brainer. A formality, almost.

When it happened, it ended up being almost comical. It was a Saturday night, in the middle of a crowded and very loud bar. We were with a group of friends and he had already thrown back 5 drinks when he sloshed into my ear about whether or not we wanted to see other people. I remember thinking, "Um, ok. I guess we can talk about this now. It should be a short conversation, anyway. OMG, did he have to get halfway to Drunktown before working up the courage to talk about this?? Nah. I'm not going to flatter myself like that."

So I asked him what he wanted to do, and he said he didn't want to date anyone else. I told him that I felt the same way, and we had a nice little smooch to seal the deal. The End. Easy as pie.

Or was it?

The next morning, I was reflecting on the night before when I realized that may have been the beer talking the night before. So I asked him if he remembered what we talked about the night before. He cried, "Yeah. What, you changed your mind????" in an almost panicked tone of voice. I chuckled and shook my head.

"Just checking," I said, smiling.

So what do you think about The Talk? Is it an unnecessary formality? The man's job? The woman's job? Should exclusivity be assumed, or are we just being control freaks? Have you ever had one that went badly? Do you have advice for anyone who is approaching that stage in their relationship? If you're not having sex with the person(s), is it even necessary? Let's talk about The Talk!

* Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think MJ is the source of this quote.

11 comments:

Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

I'll have to email you about this. Its a good story, but I dont want to post it publicly :)

If I forget, remind me!

Jess said...

I never, ever assume exclusivity. I will continue to assume he is seeing other girls until he says he's not. And quite frankly, he should do the same.

As for who brings it up first and all that ... I don't think it matters. It'll happen when it needs to happen. I mean, if a guy is going to freak out and be a pussy about it, why would you want be exlusive with him anyway?

Phantom Hater said...

IMO, as long as you're casually dating, going on dates and such, there's no exclusivity. Once sex enters the picture, I think things change a lot--mainly because you're also sharing your partner with whoever he is seeing aside from you, and you have a right to know that in the age of STDs. Once I cross that boundary (and hopefully before), I attempt to make the relationship exclusive. I'm not big on sharing, and I'm not the horndog I was in my 20's that needs a new spot to park in all the time. :)

I like the "idea" of dating multiple people so you don't just get comfortable with someone who isn't right for you, but it's hard to juggle them, and I've known very few girls who don't get upset if they find out you are dating someone else.

The fact is, though, if someone is seen as "in demand", even if it's only an illusion, the other person will desire them more. It's human nature. Also, if a guy or girl happens to be of a manipulative nature, they know this and attempt to use it as leverage, which is why you get a lot of girls strung out on guys who pretty much ignore them.

Well, I sorta strayed from the topic. I think it's maturity to actually be able to talk about this sort of thing without wigging out about it. I don't understand people who are comfortable enough to be banging someone but can't bring up the courage to ask if they are "bf and gf". That way you at least know you're on the same page.

My main problem is accidentally letting "my girlfriend" slip because I don't know what else to call her in that in-between stage of casual dating and a relationship.

Stuck said...

I think PH has nailed it. It's a maturity issue, and immature guys react differently to 'The Talk' than mature ones.

When you're having sex on a regular basis, it's time to talk about it. Like I said on OG's blog, once you've seen the other person naked, you should be able to talk about anything.

Coco said...

I think anymore that men seem to preempt any thought the girl may have about having that "talk" by stating, very decisively, that they are not looking for a "relationship" . . . or at least that is what I have found in my limited experience. While this does not mean that they don't want to go out and try to get in your pants, it means you cannot, under any circumstances, expect anything from them without them saying "But, we're not in a relationship, so you shouldn't expect that." It sucks.

But, I think it's grand that things are falling so naturally into place. That's probably how it's supposed to be.

RWA said...

"...a nice little smooch to seal the deal."

Oh my.

I have expressed my thoughts on the subject you requested, by the way.

one girl said...

Oh, I'm so so glad you posted about this too VB! It's good to know I'm not the only one stressing about these things. It's so cute that he was afraid you were going to back out of the exclusive relationship status the next day :) and even more cute that he was so nervous about bringing up the topic. I wonder how long he's been wanting to talk about that with you?

teahouse said...

Hey, that's a great way to do it!! It says a lot, that the whole discussion was so natural. Hooray for VB and CN!!!

Kraig said...

Ahh. The DTR. "Define the relationship" I both love and hate those conversations.

Generally if I'm interested in "exclusivity", I'll bring it up in a general sense, then end it with a comment that I'm not really interested in seeing other people. If she follows it up with a "neither am I", then its all good. If not, then continue, and a few weeks/months later rinse and repeat.

I do love the roundabout method (hangs head in shame)

When it comes to dating multiple people, I think there are a few different situations

1. Dating multiple girls because you don't want to get tied down, and are just looking for intimacy without the commitment
2. Actually interested in more than one person, and trying to figure out which one you should choose
3. In need of the "comfort" and "confidence" having more than one person interested in you.

As a guy, I don't think everyone woman, or even a large portion of them, are interested in me. I know there are a few out there, and in my experience they don't seem to be that hard to find. If I'm not interested in commitment or just looking for casual or unattached, its not too hard to find that.

My rule is if I'm dating more than one person, I'm open about it and they all know. If they don't want that, then they can either ask me to be exclusive (which depending on how I feel is yes/no) or not date me (wow that sounds cocky). This is where not "really liking any of them" comes into play. None of it is serious, and if one of them wants it to be, chances are I'm not on the same page. It is just wrong to lead them on.

From the sounds of things with CN, It has never been that "casual" thing. He doesn't really sound like the type, and good for him. Serially dating has bad consequences (baggage anyone). I'd say the conversation was pretty much a formality to let each other know, and less of a decision from your individual perspectives.

M said...

I never have the talk. And I think it kicks me in the butt because I don't bring it up. I have had a couple of jealous guys. Since I need a lot of alone time and I don't explicitly say I am being exclusive, they assume that I am dating other men. I need to have the talk next time i date someone because I am monogamous from the beginning more out of boringness than anything else.

I don't think it matters who brings it up. I think men, especially as they get older, are just as much into committed relationships as women. So, a man should be able to handle the talk. If he can't, he's immature.

Sam said...

With TB everything just flowed. It was so easy and nothing like any relationship I had been in before...