I’m a single gal and a career woman, and every now and then I get asked whether or not I go on dates. Usually, I have two answers: 1) Kind of, but I already know the person and the word date is only being used to describe us hanging out for the first time in a romantic capacity. 2) No. I don’t, because that would mean meeting for the first time and I don’t date strangers.
Finally, I have added another explanation for this, and it goes as follows:
3) I don’t date strangers because I’m afraid of serial killers, racists and misogynists, and I value my time and money. I also have no desire to find out whether or not someone is either of these things in a 4 hour time frame curated for conversations predominantly encompassing current events in popular culture. I prefer meeting future partners on whim whilst doing other things. That could be in a work setting or at a cultural festival. Usually, if we like each other’s personalities we become friends first— we build a friendship driven by admiration and the desire to learn and be inspired by each other, rather than driven by lust or sexual attraction. We are friends first, that’s my icebreaker.
I date my friends.
Because the intimacy I’ve created within my friendship circle has always been my ideal romance. They’re filled laughter, love, honesty, communication, etc. My greatest romantic relationships have always been with those I’d been friends with. And yes, they ended but we grew together and our love evolved. Some of them I’ve remained friends with and some I’ve parted ways. But our breakups were always sound.
I’ve developed this preference for dating my friends overtime, and it has much to do with the fact that many of my encounters with strangers have been motivated by lust and my looks alone. I’m well-rounded woman and I despise being made two-dimensional by “You’re very pretty.” It’s a nice compliment, but there are so many other things, other than looks, that make a woman beautiful. I inherited this face, I didn’t work for it or save up for it. These features aren’t mine, neither are they my mother’s or my father’s. I did however slave over a hot keyboard for 5+ years, studied over two-dozen books on arts and culture, memorized periods and movements withing art history and a handful of random facts. You can get to my heart easier with, “What are your opinions on the use of the term “multi-culturalism” in regards to Canada?” Again, the latter is a question I’d discuss with a friend.
In short, my dating philosophy is politics first. The reason I describe my experiences of dating strangers as 4hr meetings curated to discuss current events in popular culture is because they have been. And the truth is I’ve avoided dating because of far too many disasters. I kid you not, I’ve had a guy tell me his friend was abducted by aliens and he received a sort of inter-galactic enema in space.
My friendships have always been driven by political opinion, equity and character. While my experience with dating strangers have always been hide the politics until the third date and use the first to find common ground. But, common ground is easy to find– everyone likes french fries and knows who Beyonce is –finding someone who supports a woman’s right to her body is far more difficult.
Someone might say my choices in who I go out with are questionable because how am I assessing these people? Am I bringing up politics at dinner? Am I asking all of the 21 questions? Oh, I bring up politics all right. As a person of colour, my existence is political, so politics come with the territory. On two occasions I’ve had the subject asked to be changed, and on one I ended the evening early. As a result of these experiences, I’m known to be very cut and dry on dates; I go into full job interviewer mode: Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your goals? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Many of these questions are already answered when I form a friendship with someone. Perhaps for me the traditional practice and framework of dating in contemporary culture is too shallow to find substance. That isn’t to say it doesn’t work for others; My best-friend only dates people she isn’t friends with and she’s doing just fine, but she has her own vetting process.
Relationships of any kind are always different when sex isn’t served as the main course. Lust is very two-dimensional, it’s about sex and looks. Love however, is more interesting. It values laughter, sharing stories, learning from eachother, and it includes sex. I simply think a relationship should be a friendship with sex, and friendships take time to form and flourish. Dates set the tone immediately for romance and sex without asking first for friendship, and that’s what I want before anything else. Also, I simply don’t have the time, energy or money to wait until the second or third date to figure out if someone is a racist, homophobic, serial killer. So no, I don’t date strangers.
“Screw beautiful, I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me compliment my brain.”