Relationships vs. individuality


Relationships vs. individuality

It must be my culture that’s more Latin-European (and then cosmopolitan due to travelling and working in a multicultural environment) than North-American – Anglo-Saxon but, really, for me the modern concept of “dating” sucks. To be honest I’m not even sure to fully understand it, I mean where’s the line between “dating someone” and “having a relationship”? At what specific moment does a date become a gf/bf (apparently people have sex with their date but don’t consider themselves yet in a relationship)? So I looked up dictionaries for a better grasp of the concept, but traditional dictionaries don’t really give a great insight. Wikipedia, though has a full article about Dating and here’s how it is defined there:

“Dating is any social activity undertaken by, typically, two people with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as their partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse. The word refers to the act of meeting and engaging in some mutually agreed upon social activity. Traditional dating activities include entertainment or a meal.”


It’s a little bit clearer, yet there’s something I find silly about it: The key point in this definition is obviously “each assessing the other's suitability as their partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse”. Unfortunately, the notion sounds quite ill-conceived, in my opinion, and for two reasons:

  • On a date, people may not be themselves: that can be voluntarily (pretending to be what they’re not) or unwillingly (the pressure of the situation might quite well alter people’s behavior and therefore distort the perception of who they actually are).
  • Like it or not, life changes us and life in a relationship changes us even more. Therefore it is very possible that someone who did actually match the other party’s expectations in the first place becomes totally incompatible in the long run and there’s no way you can predict it (otherwise there wouldn’t be so many divorces).

But what bothers me even more than the dubious logic of dating, is the underlying mindset which I would call the “shopping mentality”. Kristine Gasbarre in a piece she wrote on this site refers to sociologist Chris Morret: “the American dating process has become similar to other means of shopping for a product”. Kristine continues like this:

 “So when a woman dates a man and he doesn't possess all the "features" she requires, she briefly deliberates and continues shopping (Is passionate about his work, check. Loves to travel, check. Forgot to ask how my meeting went, uh-oh. Completely unacceptable.)"

(This passage could be as well re-formulated the other way around; it applies for both men and women…)

In the same order of ideas, I find the expression “I’m on the market” deeply disturbing when it comes to our sentimental lives; it’s just another confirmation that business logic is taking over the domain of relationships.