The complexities of dating in ‘real’ life

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Lets face it, life changes when you make the transition between high school and college and between college and the ‘real’ world. No one really prepares you for any of it. That is part of the fun of living. You can read about ways to handle situations all you want in numerous blogs, but  no one can solve the complexities of life for you. Finding the right approach tot he right topic is tough in this world where social media is open to most of the world’s population. You’ll find thousands of blogs or forums offering advise and information about random things such as the changes in your daily schedule, how real work is different than interning (though, this has yet to be proven to me completely), how to stay healthy, etc.

Everyone agrees – real life is different. It’s not really something that college completely prepares you for but it doesn’t take too long to adapt to some of the changes. The void where homework, club meetings, and IM sports used to be is filled with happy hour, awkward social events, sometimes kick ball leagues and introducing 50 new television shows to your daily viewing schedule. Sometimes it is replaced with exercise. More of my free time should be occupied with exercise.

That isn’t what I’m going to talk about though. Really that is what my whole blog is about anyway – what I do to fill the free time I have that isn’t taken up with lab reports and problem sets.

I want to talk about dating. *insert bored groan here* Dating in the real world? ANOTHER blog about that from some random chick? Yeah, deal with it. It’s something that no one gets you ready for. There are so many blogs out there with expert opinions or what have you, but really it depends on the person or people involved. The only way you can prepare for it, is to just go balls to the wall in and start your field work.

The step from dating in High School to dating in college is easily overcome. No longer are you shoved into classes with the same people every day for 4 years. Depending on your major, you get to meet anywhere between 3 and 30 or sometimes 300+ new people every semester per class. Sometimes, like me, you are stuck with the same people in some of your classes each semester. This sometimes brings together couples, but really just helps you mentally and emotionally accept the ass wooping that engineering school gives you. You know everyone else is going through it too.

You can join clubs for free! You can play sports and sometimes you can choose to be placed on a team randomly! You are always meeting new people. Most of the time, a majority of these people are single. Everyone is equally busy. You just fit in time to see each other. Generally, you’re all broke too, so that negates any of the weird questions that arise in real life dating.

Real life dating.

I, and pretty much anyone else who is or has been single in real life, would agree – it is really freakin’ hard. Another word that comes to mind is awkward. Like really hard and really awkward. So many obsticals pop up that you never knew existed and when they do arise, each time they are handled differently.

How do you meet people?

How do you meet people when you move to a new city for work? Work romances – not the best idea. They can get messy. Sometimes there aren’t any men (or women) working in your office. Clubs cost money. Unless you score a rad job, you’ll be hurting for spending moneyfor a while – especially when those student loans kick in. Sure you can fork out the $45 to join a kick ball or football league or whatever. But what happens if everyone on your team just… sucks? This hasn’t happened to me because I haven’t convinced myself that it is worth the money and the free t-shirt. You don’t even get to pick the color! What if it’s traffic cone orange? Not the best color on most people or anyone really.  Meeting people at bars. That is tricky. You learn in college, well at least I did, that you shouldn’t really date anyone you met at a bar. Especially if it is after 10:00pm.

You find yourself doing things you never thought you would do. Remember that time when you swore you would never try internet dating? Well now you have an OK Cupid profile and are hunting down the best photos of you. I know I’m awesome, but how do I make myself sound awesome to people who have never met me and are just reading paragraphs online? I’m still convinced that no one really can see your character/know anything about you until you’ve met in person and spent a considerable amount of time together. Maybe it’s just me! It’s not just me, other people have admitted that they feel the same way.

In real life you have to be active in meeting people. Not just for dating, but for friends too. You actually have to put work into a social life. It’s not something that just happens. Well fuck.

I don’t need to go on about this. Everyone who has been a singleton in the real world knows how hard it is to meet people.

So lets say you’ve met someone. Now what? You know the general time-line of a relationship in college. But what happens when you find someone in real life? Suddenly first dates exist. Generally in school, you’ve talked to this person. You’ve created a friendship. You went on a date after probably knowing each other. First dates are their own issue all together. So we’ll skip that. You’ve made it past the first date. Now come the tricky parts. There is no set time-line for dating in real life.

When do you start splitting the bill?

Countless articles and blog posts in lady magazines have covered this topic. “If you do the asking, you should pay.” “you should always offer to pay.” “After date 3, you should split the bill.”

It’s all bull. No one REALLY knows who is supposed to pay and when. There is no official rule book that everyone follows. The guy that I was seeing for about a month definitely didn’t play by the rules. We split the bill once in the month that we dated and we went out quite a bit. How is this not playing by the rules? Well I was usually the one to ask him when he wanted to hang out or come up with things to do. So if I played by the  ‘rules’, I guess I should have paid for almost everything. Not that I didn’t try. I asked every single time and was always given a swift “No, I’m paying”. Alright then, I won’t argue.

There are no rules for paying. Everyone is different. It will always be confusing.

When do you meet friends?

College dating was easy. Generally you met friends/roommates right away. You were somewhat forced to. Going out was expensive, so it was easier to hang out at home. You went to parties together. You met at the bar. Friends were everywhere. The time frame for meeting friends was anywhere between 0 days (you were all in the same social group) and maybe a week when you all stumble to or from a party/the bar together or tailgating together – you know it’s serious when you tail gate together.

Real life? I have no idea when it’s acceptable to ask someone to hang out in a group with friends. I think it depends on the person you are seeing, too. Unless you met through friends, it’s hard. Again, I’ll go back to the guy I was dating. I met his roommates a few times, but we never hung out together. We never went out with them or watched TV together. It was always just him and I. I guess I thought it was kind of weird. Maybe it’s just me, but I think meeting the friends is less of “I want to get serious and now its time to meet my friends” and more of “I want you to meet my friends because they are excellent judges of character (most of the time) and if you don’t get along with them, you’re out.” It has to be the right group of friends though. Some groups – I really don’t care what they think. But my close friends? I really care. I’ve never introduced any guys to my one friend, not because I don’t value his opinion, but because I knew I was dating someone he wouldn’t approve of and his opinion is top-shelf along with my friends from home that I grew up with.

I guess it threw me off not meeting anyone else outside of his roommates those few times. It makes you feel weird. Maybe it was just me being a girl, but you can’t help but think “Does he just not want to be seen with me around people he knows?” “Does he think I’m too hideous to show his friends?” Really it was none of the above. If they are OK to be seen in public with you especially at places here he frequents WITH friends, you’re not a swamp creature. I’m not a swamp creature. Maybe you just aren’t on the same wavelength for what it means to meet friends. Maybe schedules just don’t fit. Maybe you don’t meet friends until they are sure they want to get into something serious with you. Makes total sense.

Whatever. Who knows? This is one of those things that you’ll wonder about (if you’re a girl).

When can you start asking personal questions?

I’m not talking about asking about past relationships or sexual history etc. Maybe I’m weird in that sense, but I feel like it doesn’t really need to come up. I mean, as long as you’re healthy and your partner knows you’re healthy, I don’t think your sexual history is any of their business. Though I’ve realized I should ask  “How long ago was your last relationship” before getting involved with someone past the first date or so. This is another story. Actually I’m pretty sure I addressed it in this post. Well that sort of happened again in that I was the first someone someone dated after 3 years. I’m waiting for the second part to happen [the part where they meet the girl of their dreams]. I give it less than 6 months.

I’m talking about the – how is your relationship with your parents? What is your family structure? Who do you trust the most in your life? What is something traumatic that has happened to you?

If I’m genuinely interested in someone, I want to know these things about them. I want to know everything. I know this is definitely not first date material, hell it’s not even 5 date material. But when is it OK to ask? After 2 weeks? After a month? After two months? Who the hell knows. Who knows when it is appropriate to get into things more than “what is your favorite movie” or “what is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever eaten?”. You know, first date topics.

When can you ask someone what they are truly afraid of? When can you talk to someone about your future plans? I think maybe sooner is better than later on that question. How do you know if you’re in the same place in your life? Is it appropriate to ask those questions when someone starts saying things like “Yeah I really want to move here” or “I want to live  in another country in the nearish future”. Is it ever OK to ask those questions?

What is the meaning of life?

42.

All I know is that the real world is a complicated web of happy hours, work relationships, masks, and feeling incredibly vulnerable every day. Dating is awkward. Life is awkward. If it wasn’t, a lot of people would be out of work – I’m talking bloggers, columnists, script writers, musicians, everyone. No one knows anything really about it. Even the experts. No one can be an expert on the dating habits, wants, or needs of the 7 billion people on this planet.

 

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