There are no set rules for dating. When we first embark on the dating world, we're given a wooden spear and a loin cloth and told "Good luck!"
Scratch that. I don't even think we’re told "good luck."
The most common complaint I hear from my friends when they have been hanging out with a potential interest for quite some time is, "I don’t know what we are." There's no clear route to go about finding this out. It's a lesson we all have to learn ourselves. The sad fact is, Point A doesn't always lead to Point B on the perilous Dating Road.
Not too long ago, I had struck gold in the online dating department. As luck would have it, I found Danielle: a girl who was smart, attractive, funny and all the other cliché attributes that makes a guy float a few inches above the ground with cartoony hearts circling his head. And she liked me back. Success!
Over the course of a couple months, this girl and I spoke on the phone fairly consistently. We even met up twice. It had been a nice balance; I had texted her just as much as she had texted me. I called her when I felt like calling her and I liked to think that she was comfortable in calling me when she felt like it. But we were in that ambiguous stage where neither of us really knew what was going on. Too early to really have "the talk," but I was feeling pretty damn good about things. After all, it seemed pretty par for the course! Smooth sailing, boys!
However, things took a gut-wrenching turn a few weeks after our last meet up. The conversation was running its usual course, until she dropped anchor out of nowhere:
"Oh, by the way, on Friday I kissed a guy. It wasn't a big deal, but I just thought you should know."
I wasn't sure how to respond. I could feel the temperature in my cheeks rival that of a sculptor's kiln. I played it off casual as I could, but knew I had to get off the phone to collect my thoughts. I could already feel myself starting to sweat. My exit was awkward and clumsy, I'm sure.
What had happened here? I sat at the edge of my bed and reflected on our conversation. On paper, Danielle had done nothing wrong. We weren't "a couple." We hadn't had "the talk." She could do what she pleased and if that means going out on a Friday night and having a make out sesh, so be it.
But still, I couldn't deny my feelings: I. was. humiliated. Something wasn't right about this situation, but I couldn't cry "foul!" If I were to bring up my case to the Court of Dating, I'd most likely lose on the base of a technicality.
Maybe it's because there really aren't rules to dating. We're flesh and blood, not robots. Dating doesn't have a syllabus. We go with what feels right, with gut instinct. And sometimes, our instincts are just dead wrong.
You think you're on the same page with someone, when in reality, you might not be. No one wants to be stuck holding a stack of Monopoly money when they've actually been playing a game of Mouse Trap the entire time. We spend so much time cutting through the thick, dating jungle vines with a dull machete, trying to find that perfect match that we lose sight of the fact that once we find that girl, there's still one large hurdle to cross: she has to be into it, too.
That's what dating is. Trying to find someone that links up to you like two L block Tetris pieces. Sometimes you come close to a perfect Tetris, but sometimes you're going to get that at-first-glance-seems-ideal-but-ultimately-fits-awkwardly cross shape.