Stages of dating | AspenTimes.com

Stages of dating

Alison Berkley

My friend Hope just got divorced from her husband after 10 years because it turns out he’s addicted to prescription drugs. Surprise! So now Hope is dating again for the first time since she was 23.”I went on this blind date thinking this could be someone I might spend the rest of my life with,” she said after a recent blind date. “And after the first five minutes I’m wondering if it’s someone I can stand spending the rest of the night with.”Ahhh, dating in your 30s.In your 20s, dating wasn’t about the rest of your life, it was about hooking up with a hot guy you met at a party, or an average guy who turned hot by the time the party was over. It was about rolling around in the dirt under a tree or maybe on top of the pool table because you felt like it. It didn’t occur to you to think about what the outcome would be, even if it might have been good to know in advance that he’s only 22 and on vacation from Australia.There was no reason to waste time with formalities (exchanging phone numbers/last names) or chitchat (political orientation/religious affiliation/hometown). Your choices were indiscriminate.Maybe you hooked up with him a second time because you liked the way his skin tasted or the way the veins in his arms felt under your fingertips or because his eyelashes were so long they cast a shadow on his face. You just did what you did not because it felt “right” or because “there might be a future” but because it felt good and tomorrow didn’t really matter and that was enough.But as soon as you hit the ol’ three-ohs the party’s over. Suddenly everything changes and “dating” becomes a process about as carefree and spontaneous as applying for college. Just because you don’t sit down and do the paperwork doesn’t mean it’s not there, that little checklist of requirements for admission that measure your adequacy, credentials, performance and potential, and let’s not forget, how you measure up to his mommy.There’s no deadline as long as you don’t listen to all those people who talk about how your chances of having a child drop by 50 percent after you turn 35 or how in vitro fertilization costs like $20,000. No worries! If you do end up married and Living Happily Ever After in 10 years, you can always sell the Land Rover and trade it in for a set of twins. Whoever said it’s too late to have kids once you hit 58 has no idea what they’re talking about.What was once a simple equation (shoe size = penis size) has become a complete riddle. Forget about good looking/good in bed/good times. Forget about mindless seduction scenes and wondering what his lips will feel like or if he’s good with hands or knows how to give a decent foot massage.Now it’s about “taking it slow” and “getting to know each other better,” which means you having to survive Stage 1-50 of the Estimated Assimilation To My Existence exams (EATMEs) to determine if you want to marry this person and have their babies or erase their number from your cell phone in 10 minutes or less. Ready, go.Stages 1-5 will assess the initial connection and calculate the Mutual Rate of Interest (MRI). This is a critical time for both of your fragile egos, which cannot afford to be shattered by rejection from someone you hardly know. Confirmation of interest via a third party must be obtained before proceeding. Be sure to communicate through others and do the necessary research via word of mouth and Google (never underestimate the power of a good search engine or the value of a little harmless small-town gossip).Then begins Stage 6-10 and the tedium of overanalyzing what is essentially meaningless correspondence (Don’t call him, let him call you. E-mail him back, but not right away. Do not send any e-mails without showing them to your five best friends first to make sure you don’t give the wrong impression or sound any dumber than you actually are). Keep your eye on the MRI. If one person starts to appear more eager than the other, the previously fragile ego will overinflate and explode. That’s one mess you don’t want to have to clean up.Somewhere around Stage 12, if the MRI is still in balance, you may take a chance and get together for an informal date that minimizes face-to-face time and focuses on another activity, preferably in broad daylight with other people around. This is still a safe time to play the Friendship Card, your easy out to a long and happy future as two people who do not have to avoid each other in the street.At Stage 28, you might decide to get really risqué and go on your first evening date but don’t take this big step until you are ready to consider those big end-of-the-evening requirements: kiss or shake hands, stay or go, continue the evening or put an abrupt end to it. Whatever move you make here could have a profound impact on your future children. No pressure. Just go with your instincts and hope you don’t make an ass out of yourself.The final stretch should be used to ponder those finer points, like whether you actually like this person and/or decide if they will make a suitable mirror for you to view a preferred reflection of yourself in or not.After Hope told me this is what dating is like, I suggested she do something more valuable with her time, like weaving on a loom or maybe collecting bugs.The Princess would like to throw out huge props to Farrell Kaye for making the front page of the Daily News worth reading. You so totally rock, you big stud! I promise there really is no such thing as bad press. You work it, boy! Send your loving e-mail to alison@berkleymedia.com


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