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The Romance Rebels
TICKING TIME BOMB #2: Pursuing Dates Instead of Friends
Here's a little rhyming game. Think of words that rhyme with dating.
"Rating!" Good one. A lot of that is going on as guys look at girls and girls look at guys.
I can imagine a couple of guys standing on a street corner, checking out the girls. You can hear them mumbling their "ratings" to each other--six, four, three-and-a-half. Ah, but then two girls walk up to the great raters and announce that the girls have been watching them. "Really?" the guys reply excitedly--"How'd we do?" "Minus three!" And the two guys check themselves into the emergency room--for an ego transplant! Actually, dating and rating do go together a lot as everyone is checking out the prospects.
Of course, baiting rhymes with dating, too. And people are playing all kinds of games to attract and catch a girl or guy. Like a fisherman deciding which bait will attract the fish he wants, people fishing for a partner try to offer what their "fish" will go for.
Then there's waiting. That is what dating means to many people--waiting for something romantic to happen to them. There are probably more people waiting a lot than dating a lot!
There's another word that rhymes with dating--hating. The dating game can lead to you either hating someone you used to love--or hating yourself and asking questions like, "What's wrong with me?"
Actually, the way we date and rate people is not working very well, since half of the marriages our dating system produces break up! The system that is supposed to be producing love often gives us loneliness instead. Instead of bringing people closer together, it often leaves people farther apart.
But because romance is the only kind of male-female relationship most young people think about, that is the only kind they pursue. And pursuing a romance is pressure--pressure to impress him or her, get a relationship, keep a relationship, maintain a relationship, and define a relationship. "Are we just friends, brother and sister, seeing each other, going out, going steady, pre-engaged, engaged, committed, uncommitted, or confused?" Pressure!
The whole dating process is so superficial, so pressured, that it often leads to warped relationships. Let's look at three painful results of our current dating system.
The Lone Ranger
For starters, imagine a young woman who is dating one of those TV heroes of the Old West--the Lone Ranger. First of all, she is going to have to get used to having Tonto along as a chaperone all the time. The Lone Ranger's trusty Indian companion was his American Express card--he never left home without him! But even if this girl can get her man alone, she has a problem. It might surface like this:
Penelope: "Lone Ranger, I'm tired of calling you Lone Ranger. What's your name, big guy?"
Ranger: "Sorry, Penelope--my identity must remain a secret. But you may call me Ranger for short."
Penelope: "I can deal with that. But, well--you see ..."
Ranger: "What is it, Penelope? I want you to be honest with me."
Penelope: "Well, Ranger boy--it's ... it's the mask. "
Ranger: "What about it?"
Penelope: "I can't really get to know you if you insist on keeping that mask on! Something's got to change here!"
Ranger: "You're right, Penelope."
Penelope: "So you're taking off your mask?"
Ranger: "'Fraid not. Hi-ho, Silver!"
(Sounds of hoofbeats fading into the distance)
Penelope: (spitting dust) "Great. Well, who was that masked man?"
Tonto: "The Lone Ranger!"
Penelope: "Wait a minute. Who are you?"
Tonto: "Trusty Indian companion, Tonto. Wanna date?"
Penelope: "Never again."
What girl would want a relationship with the Lone Ranger if his identity was covered up with a mask? That is exactly what happens in many dating relationships. Many young people have gone out with someone who ended up being the Lone Ranger--or Rangerette. The pressure of dating creates an ugly result I call masked strangers.
Since impressing a guy or girl is critical to getting a guy or girl, most people wear a mask that will make an impression. Unfortunately, some people never find out who the real person was behind the mask--until it is too late. Many dating couples never really get to know each other as real people--they were too busy being lovers or impressers. And so many people have ended up looking at their husband or wife one day and realizing they married a stranger. Because getting and keeping a "date" is so often based on superficial attractions, many relationships never really get beyond the surface--even though they may get very involved physically.
Being "close" is what dating is supposed to be all about. Since a romantic relationship is often too pressurized for -people to get emotionally real and emotionally close, they settle for getting physically close. And they end up with another ugly result of the pressure to be romantic: love robbers.
The Love Robber
You're together a lot, and it's just the two of you. You run out of things to talk about ... you run out of things to do. Hello, making out. Hello, making big mistakes.
Yes, getting involved physically feels good. It can even feel like you are really getting close. But it can end up costing you love.
Anyone who has ever been involved in a physical relationship knows what happens--when you start touching, you stop talking! Sex is such a strong force that once it is unleashed in a relationship, it takes over. And much of the talking and communicating that really brings two people together--not just their bodies--is lost to the heat of making out. Honestly, it usually becomes, "How soon can we get to it?" And the "it" is not talking. So, the physical affection that was supposed to make you closer actually keeps you from really getting close.