What Kind of Dater Are You?
By Rae Lewis-Thornton
September 7, 2011
This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.
When I was younger it was believed that there were two types of girls; Good and Bad. The Good girls waited for marriage to go all the way and the Bad girls had sex without any hesitation. And this was how we divided our dating life. Having sex or not having sex. Well, at least that's what was believed.
But in reality, that understanding of dating and sex was just a little too simplistic and maybe way too unrealistic. There were girls/women that had sex with men that they were not dating, but often times she had sex with him in hopes that he would begin dating her. Yes, there were some girls/women that had sex for sex, but more often than not, she was looking for much more.
Then there were girls/women who dated and had sex with their boyfriends in what they believed was a monogamous relationship leading to marriage. But often times the relationship didn't work out as expected and the girl found herself still on that roller coaster of looking for Mr. Right all over again. And typically it didn't change until she was actually married.
Well, if you start having sex at 18 and you don't get married until you are 28, thats 10 years of dating men who you thought were Mr. Right. And yes you had sex because you thought he would love you forever, but he didn't. And if I were honest about it, in those 10 years the numbers of Mr. Rights grew.
With this understanding I began to wonder what was the real difference between the good and bad girl? They both had sex and often ended in the same place, looking for Mr. Right and a ring on their finger. I think it's ridiculous to believe that every woman wouldn't want the best for themselves. It's just their method of achieving them are different.
Then there is the question of what men want. Well, it's said that men think about sex every 7 seconds. But the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction say that men actually think about sex several times a day. So it stands to reason that men are looking for sex more often than looking for their future wife. Yes, many do want to settle down, but it's rare that men start looking for a wife as early as women are looking for a husband; Shoot, many women have their entire wedding planned by the age of 21. And that can make dating a tad confusing.
I think dating in the 21st century is basically the same, we just have different names for the same thing. Men looking for sex more than marriage and women looking for marriage and willing to have sex to get to their destination.
And let's not forgot our same-sex daters. Men are still looking for sex but some are also looking for a partner to settle down with. And for the most part women are looking for the same thing with women that they are with men, someone to love them.
But generally speaking this is how I see the layout of the dating world in the 21st Century. This ain't the Bible, just my view. But I will ask you, regardless of who you date, what kind of dater are you?
Dating as "Talking"
You met someone and the two of you click. You start to spend time together but you have not officially committed to a "relationship." You are actually free to spend time with someone else. But the more time you spend with this person the less time you spend with other people.
This is the getting to know the person stage. And if you really like this person, it becomes the weeding out stage of others you are talking to.
You visit each other's home. You have regular dates, movies, dinners, etc. In the early days, maybe the first month or two you spend less time. But as the months go on you spend more time and give more of yourself.
You begin to explore intimacy with this person; Touching, kissing, holding hands and all the different ways you can be intimate with a person. This regular form of intimacy may lead to sexual intercourse, oral sex and penetration. Some people in this stage have sex early, others take the time to learn more about the person, before they share this very personal part of self.
As early as the second month, but surely by the third month, you see each other at least once a week, but if you have crazy schedules at least every other week. If you are really into this person there is no way you will let 6-8 weeks pass without seeing them.
The more involved you become, the more time you spend. You talk on the phone regularly 3-5 to even everyday. And if you participate in social media it is an additional way, but NOT the primary way to reach out to this person throughout the week.
You may also text message throughout the day. But there is no mistake that you are interested in this person, who they are, their aspirations, you like the fit with your life and you explore your connections intellectually, values and intimacy and so on. You become involved in their life at least in a minimum way. You encourage and lift each other up, as you continue to bond. Often times this relationship leads to dating.
Dating as "Kicking It"
This type of dating starts like "Talking." But early on it takes an emotional diversion. You do like this person, but the chemistry is a tad off. They will do for now, so you continue to spend time with them until you find something better. Something is better than nothing so you hang in there. You want a better fit for yourself. But instead of saying to the person, you are not what I want, you string them along until something better comes along. You may spend less time with them, and have less contact throughout the week over time, but you show just enough interest to keep them in your bullshit.
There Is "Dating as Monogamous"
Everything in "Talking" has happened. You have officially decided that you have no other interest in another person. This is a committed, monogamous relationship. You don't have sex with another person. Nor do you have any type of intimacy with another person emotional or physical, that means, e-mails, texts, social media, Facebook/Twitter. And if it comes your way, you let them know that you have a partner and you are happy.
You share your lives with each other, the good the bad the ugly. You talk everyday. You see each other as often as your schedule permits. You support and under grid this person. You add value to their life! You enjoy intimacy, touching, kissing, holding hands, smiles and unless you have decided to remain celibate for some reason, you have sexual intercourse. This form of dating may lead to marriage or a life commitment without marriage.
Dating as "Friends With Benefits"
You may or may not talk regularly on the telephone. Same with texts, e-mails and Social media Twitter/Facebook. There is no expectation that the person will reach out to you. You have a date occasionally, anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks.
And when you do see each other there is intimacy, touching, kissing and it may lead to sexual intercourse. It's the time to get your groove on, however you do it. Now don't be confused! One of you may think you're "Talking," but the reality is that you are not.
Now let me say this: The person may not want to have just have sex but may want to be fed emotionally with minor intimacy, touching, kissing, but there is no effort to take it any another stage.
There is limited interest in the other persons life. You show just enough concern to make them think you want more or that you are not an insensitive bastard. The reality is, it's just small talk that you can have with anyone. You like the intimacy, but you don't want more with this person.
And this could be a mutual relationship. You both could want the intimacy so you show minimum interest in the each others life so you don't come across as just fucking, touching, sucking ... whatever it is you do when you get together. And let me say this: Some friends with benefits actually want more, but they continue to string the person along because they are afraid of commitment.
Dating as "Hook-Ups"
You don't really know that much about this person. You meet them at a bar or party and you go someplace to have sex. This may be last time you see this person. Your sole purpose is for sex. It is the last time you see this person, but it could become a "Friends With Benefits," relationship. Typically, but not always, one of you may think that hooking up with someone you don't know will lead to something, but you are sadly confused and a tad delirious.
While I have judgements about these categories, I will keep them to myself. In the end I cannot live your life for you, I can only live my own. As I get closer to 50, I can sadly say I have experienced all of these types of dating with the exception of "Hook-Ups." I have never in my life had a one night stand. I could never make myself that vulnerable to a stranger. But in the end, we still make ourselves vulnerable to people we do know, those who we think have our best interest in exchange for intimacy and ultimately love.
But I've said it over and over again, no one will love you like you. When you start with self-love, you will choose dating situations that add value to your life rather than take away. You don't really need a person for sex, that is a fact, but you do need one for intimacy. I can light a thousand candles in my house and it will never render the type of intimacy you will have with a person.
But I will not sell my soul for intimacy. I will fuck my own self until the day I die, rather than fuck someone who does not honor the woman that God has made me to be. I will be lonely by my damn self rather than be lonely with a man. Each of us must decide what is best for us.
I challenge you today to really think about where you fit in these categories. Or maybe you are somewhere in between. Maybe it started one place and ended another. Maybe you came with one objective and he came with another.
Whatever the case, at the end of the day, you must ask yourself, am I better off today than I was yesterday? Does this add value to my life and if so, make a list ... let yourself see it on paper. Does it take away, write it down and don't lie to yourself.
Dating should be a wonderful experience. But we live in the real world where people come with different values and different objectives to a relationship. You must not sacrifice who you are for the love of another. The love of another should come because they value who you are and believe who you are has a place in their life.
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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks
Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.
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