GBV posted an interesting piece on friendships and dating on his blog today. I was going to leave a comment, an anecdote to illustrate my disagreement with some of his statements but my comment evolved into a full-blown essay so I decided it would be more appropriate to put it in my blog. Also because I can't think of anything else to post for today. On to my comment.
Each person has their own definition of dating. From the onset, it is very confusing because meeting someone and hanging out, for romantic or platonic reasons, can be called a date. That aside some people consider dating as a stage where you spend time with someone with the intention of getting to know each other better and find out if a commitment is worth entering. Dating can be open, which means that you can see other people too, or it can be exclusive. The latter is frequently mistaken for being equivalent to or interchangeable with an exclusive committed relationship. Particularly when people are impatient. Atat. This is something I've noticed a lot among gays. I read it on the blogs all the time - people committing themselves after one night in a club and a date. Or people who get together through text. I've been there too. I once hooked up with a guy with whom I had intense chemistry. That night, in between rounds of sex, he said he really liked me, and could we be together. I didn't want to be callous (yes, wala pang callousness noon) and there was definitely a spark so I said yes. After five dates, I broke up with him. Sayang lang all the tears that could have been saved if we'd dated before committing ourselves.
Commitment is a monumental, profound, and heavy agreement. It is something that shouldn't be so easily entered into or broken. A committed relationship is ironic because you should get it only when you don't need it. It is like the icing on an already very sweet cake. It is also a ball-and-chain you put on because of love. I don't think any other reason could justify such a responsibility. If you need somebody to be there when you're sick, you have your family. If you need someone to hold your hand through problems, you have your friends. If you need to feel in love, you have your crushes. If you really need someone to receive your passions, you have your fuckbuddy. If you need someone to love you, you have yourself. When you have no more needs, when you are complete, then you are ready to love and be in a relationship.
It is relatively easy to get into a relationship. It is just as easy to get out if it turns out to be a bad one. But I think this kind of easy-peasy attitude destroys the value of commitment and the person's integrity. It is much harder to enter into a healthy relationship, one that lasts and fosters growth. More difficult not in terms of effort but because of the amount of resolve and dedication you need to say "I love you" and then to walk the talk. Obviously this is quite a responsibility so you have to make sure you do it for someone who is worth it. And don't be mistaken, I'm not talking about his market value. I'm talking about you deciding whether this is a person that because and in spite of all that he is, you are willing to love.
The preparation involved requires getting to know a person, one which can be accomplished through dating (mutual or otherwise). Dating as a step is important because this is where you level your expectations and like hedging, it reduces your exposure to risk. You both know that it could lead somewhere or nowhere at all. So it is not at all wasting time because the deal is this, let's be friends and see if it leads anywhere. If yes, then good. If not, then at least you have a friend. Of course, this implies that both parties are mature enough to accept "defeat". If you are complete and ready to love, as I've said, then you both will be able to move on as friends. And how long should you date before calling it? My stand is to take as much time as you need. After all, bonds with higher maturities yield higher returns don't they?
PS. I hope my readers excuse the banking references in the last paragraph. I couldn't resist, and this is after all, a response for the GBV.
PPS. I have never been in a real relationship. In fact, I am wary of commitment, precisely because I see it as a thing not to be taken lightly. This post is not meant to be advice for anyone but future me. I do hope that this personal manifesto provokes you and makes you think.