Saturday, 20 September 2014

Letters From America: Dating

Hello Everyone,

I am not a dating expert by a long shot. I am barely treading the water to be honest. And this is just in the UK. The whole thing flummoxes. There a certain rules and I don’t seem to know what they are. Or there are no rules. I don’t know. Either way you look at it, I’m not great at it.

If I do say so myself, I am good at being single. I love nights out and having coffee with my mates. I don’t have to answer to anyone, and I should be making the most of it. I can do what I want when I want, and don’t have to worry about the consequences to one specific person, other than myself. I realise that this may also be describing what it is like to be young, so I really cannot complain as I am both young and single. Sounds like a pretty good deal, yeah? I do not have to deal with relationship drama myself. My world is not turned upside down, and lit on fire. Sounding a little less great now? I know love is a little different from the way  it is portrayed in books and movies, but it still changes your own personal world. You have someone who will support you and comfort you in times of trouble, and you to them. Sounds pretty good to me.  I haven’t ever been in one, but I would like to think that I would be pretty good in a long term relationship (who wouldn’t). I know everyone thinks this, but I genuinely think this. I can do date nights, cooking romantic meals, complaining to them about work or whatever, days spent in watching movies or TV show marathons.

There is one little thing standing between me and this situation: dating. As I said, I’m not very good at it. And at the moment I am in another country. The rules change slightly, and only some basic standards are the same. It’s a bit like being left in another country, no idea where you are, with the wrong guidebook. People say that love is universal, but those people clearly haven’t had too much trouble in the dating field. There may be no rules to dating, it is supposed to come naturally, but there are some social conventions that differ from country to country. Even countries as close as the UK and USA. For instance, if you go on a date to a restaurant or the cinema, who pays? I’ve been brought up to pay my own way, and not depend on someone else. So how does that work? Do you go dutch? Or do you still let the man pay, even if he’s in the same financial state that you are (a.k.a student, with little or no money to spare)? Can anyone enlighten me?

Another one is how to act, or flirt, when you first meet. As a Brit, human contact is a bit foreign to me (even getting used to meeting someone for the first time and being hugged by them is something I am still getting used to). So the British idea of flirting is slightly different, if you make some effort to stand close to them, touch their arm or hand frequently, was pretty standard flirting. In the USA, this is just normal behaviour, so how do you deal with it? I have no idea again.

Sorry about this slightly odd post. I was chatting about it with one of my friends, and I came away with a lot of thoughts. So I shared them with you.