The Inequity in Vanilla Dating

The past week of the online-dating scene has brought a light to bear on the strangeness of the vanilla dating world… A world that both J and I had left a while ago and had forgotten about.

Why are there (seemingly) SO MANY single men out there, and so few single women? And what is the deal with the inability of women (generally) to respond to well-written and thoughtful messages? And what is the deal with men (generally) sending one-line “wanna fuck” messages? Why is there such a disparity in the way that (vanilla) single men and (vanilla) single women seem to communicate when it comes to dating? 

I really think it has to do with how we are socialized around dating: it is a dance, a constant detective search for “the one,” where women are told to play hard to get, while men are told that they must act as the aggressive predator. Men always want sex. Women never want it. Sex is something sacred to hold on to, so women, guard your cooter. Alpha males are the supreme. Women only want someone to settle down with. Blah, blah, blah.

Being “out there” for a week has made its toll on J and I, albeit for different reasons. I am utterly sick from the inconsideration that online dating lends itself to. An online profile generally means there is a real person behind the profile, and that person deserves respect, regardless of your interest: this means if someone sends you a message, it warrants a response (most of the time), even if it is just to say “thanks, but no thanks.” It also means that you shouldn’t initiate contact with someone with a “wanna fuck?” message.

I am also just fascinated by this whole experience on so many different levels: why would a young woman say she was okay with open relationships, open to having one herself, open to dating someone in one, only looking for a 1-3 month relationship, and then flake out on that exact opportunity? It just doesn’t make any sense! Why does a guy who isn’t (seemingly) down with open relationships initiate contact with me? What is the psychology behind this twisted communication style and sense of honesty? Why aren’t people honest about what they are looking for and good at communicating that to others?

That is something else that “clicked” for me the other night as J and I lay in bed talking about all of this. I had forgotten how I thought a year ago. I forgot that I, too, would have been squicked out if someone in an “open relationship” tried to hit on me. I would have probably though, “Ew, gross, get away, you no-good-lying-cheater-weirdo!” I just had no conception of what “open relationship” might mean (granted, it means a lot of different things to a lot of different people actually in open relationships), but I basically just thought it was either a way to cheat by trying to appear honest, or some non-committed, non-serious relationship. I had just completely forgotten about my previous state of mind, and I forget still that the majority of our society thinks this way. It’s like my brain has been “re soft-wired” from one cultural paradigm to another (I suppose, to a sub-cultural paradigm). It is really difficult to try to bridge that divide with people in the vanilla dating scene: people are squicked out by us, or put us in a cage like at a zoo, completely fascinated by our strangeness (“So tell me, what is that like?!?). I have to say, however, part of my love for our open relationship is the drive I have to tell others about it and why and how it works. I love talking with people who have never talked to someone in an open relationship, and letting them ask questions and share their ideas, concerns, and worries about such a set-up. It is actually fulfilling for me to help broaden people’s perspectives on the ways that relationships can work and function successfully outside of our society’s monogamy paradigm. So I guess that is one positive aspect from our online dating experience.

In any case, the jury is out on this experience: it has been interesting, but not yet wholly positive. Maybe J and I will just go out to a bar and hit on attractive vanilla people that way…

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