Monday, December 19, 2011

and this one's on love

wanna know what happened at my house tonight?  

remember this scene?  mr. collins comes to propose to elizabeth?  remember how in the background, elizabeth's mom and four sisters are peeking through the door and listening?  yeah, that's what happened tonight.  okay, not so much the proposing part, just the part about my entire family looking on while an eligible bachelor visited.  he is eligible because he is about my same age and single.  not because he's, you know, interested, or because we've gone on a date, or come to think about it ever even had a conversation.  but still: same age and single=eligible.

it was horrendous.

dating is bad enough without having your whole family (aka: mom and four sisters) watching, secretly thinking, "oh my gosh he could be the ONE!"


so here's a post to dating.

the beautiful courtney posted this quote, from one of our favorite recently-found articles on the subject.  we wanted to shout this article from the rooftops but couldn't find a way to get up there.  so it looks like she's taking the blog-post avenue and i'm going to follow suit.  it comes from a site called, "the art of manliness" so you know this guy means business.  the quote goes like this:

A lot of men today don't seem to believe it, but getting hitched to the right woman is a very desirable thing.  So while there is nothing wrong with hanging out, it's not a replacement for dating.  Dating is the pathway to finding your true love and eventually settling down and getting married.  Marriage is a one-on-one relationship, so you need to start getting to know women on a one-on-one basis.  You might be hanging out with her and your friends right now, but if you don't take her on a date, she'll forever be just your friend.  So, start dating and stop hanging out.  

now please understand: this is not meant in any sense as an indictment of the boys in my life.  i think for the most part the boys i know are pretty first class.  but it has given me a chance to think through some things, the first of which being that i know there are a lot of merits to hanging out.  let's think about them for a sec:
1) you get to see what the person is like in everyday, casual situations.  sometimes you can formally date someone for months and never see this side, and when you finally do you're so shocked, it's hard to recover from.
2) hanging out is low pressure, which, for those people who are timid or shy or need wingmen, can be really comforting and help them to be themselves.

3) hanging out is cheaper than dating.  and i'm being serious here--it's got to be hard to be the boy and have to spend hard-earned money to go on date after date with girls, especially if those girls string you along or aren't upfront enough with you to tell you they aren't interested before spending your money.
4) when you're in that liminal space between serious heartbreak and being open to love again, hanging out can be a good transition.  you gain confidence being true to yourself again, you are able to be with people (and thus stave off the loneliness) in a safe way, and typically you can laugh a lot--hanging out doesn't really lend itself to serious conversations, which are often the last thing your heavy heart can take after major trauma.  


aren't serious conversations beautiful?  aren't those when you feel like someone is really validating who you are, seeing things as you do, stretching themselves to understand who you are?  isn't that where true friendship--friendship, not even relationship--comes in, when you've spent enough one-on-one time with another person that you know how they tick?  how they think?  how they feel about things?  that never comes out--not really--in hanging out.  all you learn are things like what their favorite youtube videos are and how many doughnuts they can eat in one sitting.

maybe i'm nuts, but i really want to know people better than that.  
i really want to know    (name of any eligible young man)    better than that.

and that doesn't even necessarily mean going to dinner, or ice skating, or any other Formal Date.  it just means being one-on-one with each other.  getting to know each other away from the crowd.

the other contention i have with hanging out (and this is wholly and entirely a personal problem, not one i extend to other people) is that hanging out usually leaves me feeling self-conscious.  hanging out often feels like a game of king of the hill--who can get the most laughs, who has the best dance moves, who can dominate the conversation for the longest amount of time.  it is never the quiet people that you get to know well when hanging out.  this is a little known fact about me, but inside i think of myself as one of the quiet people.  from years of pushing myself off the wallflower wall at dances and forcing myself to go to parties i didn't really want to go to, from years of talking myself into telling jokes or personal stories in "hang-out" scenarios, i've learned to mask the shyness inside.  i've learned to be okay if the group doesn't laugh at my jokes, or if we go a whole evening without anyone really trying to sustain conversation with me (or without anyone responding positively when i try to sustain conversation with them)--it's all just part of hanging out, and i understand that.  it's part of the comfort and ease of the thing.  

but that doesn't necessarily mean i walk away from hangouts feeling super good about my social skills, or about my value to the people in my life.  i'm just another one of the girls, just another friend in a vast world of friends.  on dates, however, for those couple of hours, you feel like the most interesting, funny, or pretty person, because that boy clearly thought you were cool enough to get to know better.  dates make you feel appreciated, even if only in a small way.  in hanging out, that doesn't happen--you don't feel like you're especially interesting, funny, pretty, clever, or anything.  you're just another one in the crowd.  

now, i know a boy who would say this is all ridiculous--this teaching yourself to be more outgoing than you are naturally, this whole caring what the crowd thinks.  he'd say, "i don't want to go to some lame dance.  i don't want to go to some lame party.  i'm not into talking to groups of people."  see, he does exactly what he wants to do.  i'm entirely enamoured by this idea.  i'm fairly confident he will never read this so i feel like i can air some info: in fourth grade, i had a crush on him.  this crush continued on and off for more or less my entire adolescence.  this kid is uber-kool.  we're talking he could have a pompadour and everyone around him would suddenly wonder why they didn't have one too. in fact, i'm fairly certain that he was the one who gave bruno mars the idea.  --------------------------------->
and if fedoras are ever going to make a comeback (which is one of my christmas wishes), Kid's our only hope.  i wish i was content enough with myself that i too could say, "psh, forget all them people.  i don't care."  unfortunately we all (or maybe just i) can't be as kool-with-a-k-cool as Kid.  and i mean this sincerely: i admire his confidence.

and when i leave hangouts and feel self-conscious, like that i'm unfunny and uninteresting and un__(adjective)__, that maybe my conversation skills are just so boring that i'm shocked anyone would want to hang out with me at all, i remember what, funny enough, the quote from earlier brought up: that "marriage is a one-on-one relationship."  maybe i'm not built to be the queen of hangingout-cool.  in fact i'm purrrdy sure i'm not (although i'm always and probably forever will be jealous of the people who are hangingout-cool).  instead, i'm built to make a commitment to one person who thinks i'm the funniest and the interestingest and the prettiest and all that jazz, and the majority of our lives aren't going to be spent hanging out as friends in large groups of people.  (at least hopefully not.)  the majority of our life together will be us building us--just the two of us--and growing closer and closer, and building a quiet, funny, beautiful, adventurous, secret, happy little life together.  and despite our 21st century social models putting a premium on who can be the "funnest" in a group of hangout-ers, i say i'm happy and content just to be working on being a better one-on-one person.  i think that'll serve me and Mr. Husband so much better.


  1. amen.
    to all of the above!
    Seriously Carolyn.
    This was like music to my ears! well said.

    Love this post. 100% agree with the benefits of hanging out AND one-on-one time. So importante.
    Also, I love that you are a one-on-one person because that is my favorite way to get to know people. Love it! I also love groups of 3 or 4...don't know why but that has always been a good number for me.
    One problem: if you think for a second that I believe you can't be the cool and funny one you are sorely mistaken missy.
    K, that was my two cents. After break play time is coming up! Be ready!

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  4. Sometimes I'm really glad your posts still come up on my google reader. Great thoughts and writing. I agree on every point :)

  5. As I'm watching Jane Eyre for the 1st time ever, I feel somehow qualified to comment. ;) I enjoyed the post. It was an opinion piece seeming to stem from years of thought on the subject.

    As one on the other side, I'm wondering what you, and any others, think about providing both fair trials and swift judgements for suitors. I've attempted dating, versus hanging out, with many, as that is the counsel. However, determining temperature, for me and I imagine many others, has always been a struggle. How is one to know, when so many approach it differently?

  6. I can't even explain why I like this so much.

  7. This is a great comment-- and so true that marriage comes down to two people spending a lot of time together.

    But I think your comments about not being Kool are interesting because I totally thought you were the epitome of Kool-- well, maybe not the epitome because you were well-liked, and socially capable, and out-going, AND incredibly nice. But interesting that you don't see yourself that way.

    But then I saw you that way and also thought that probably not that many people knew you REALLY well, so even people who are really capable in hanging-out situations have more to them that has to be found out in more intimate settings.

  8. Thanks for the post carolyn! Also, to echo what some others are saying, I am shocked that you don't see yourself as a hang-out person. I've always seen you as an expert! So even if you don't always feel like the coolest, prettiest, funniest, you have the rest of us fooled, because you end up that way anyhow :)

  9. Everyone's an expert, right? Especially if they got married once? 20+ years ago? They know exactly how dating works these days.

    I think Stevie Nicks's lyrics are applicable: "It's only right for you to play the way you feel it." One thing works for one person, one thing works for another. Some guys like initial hanging-out because it allows them to make better informed choices on who to go on dates with. Some guys prefer a cold call. I don't think one is better than the other, except which girl is being pursued.

    And because I have only hung out with you and never gone on a date with you, I can definitely say you are a "kool hanger-outer."

  10. I've felt so similar multiple times when in a group and always had to remind myself that I just wasn't a "hang out" person and that it's perfectly OK to be a "one-on-one" person. Well thought out and well said, Carolyn.

  11. Wow, thanks for all the comments, guys. Funny how many people feel unkool huh. I'm glad I'm not the only one. :)

    And dear anonymous, I totally agree with you--different things work for different people, and I am definitely not any sort of an expert on this subject, so I appreciate your insights.

    Maybe we should all just get pompadours and hang out together! (just kidding, just kidding. But kinda serious about the pompadours.)

  12. I had to tell you: your post reminded me of an experience that I haven't thought of in quite some time.

    A few years ago after I had met my (now) husband but before we started dating, a mutual friend invited a group of us over for an evening of hanging out. I don't remember many of the details about the evening, but I wasn't feeling very gregarious that night, and I remember it being quite painful to watch other more gregariously-inclined girls talking to and laughing with Luke. I came away from the evening feeling as though it would have been better if I hadn't gone, but being in that situation and feeling the way I did probably helped me admit to myself how really interested I was.

    On a related note, in those early days of our acquaintance, Luke rarely came to hang out with the rest of us. Though he and I talked on the phone a few time a week, I think we were only in the same "hang out" situation two or three times before our first date.

    Thanks for your thought-provoking post. I think you have it just right. :)

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  14. "aren't serious conversations beautiful? aren't those when you feel like someone is really validating who you are, seeing things as you do, stretching themselves to understand who you are? isn't that where true friendship--friendship, not even relationship--comes in, when you've spent enough one-on-one time with another person that you know how they tick? how they think? how they feel about things? that never comes out--not really--in hanging out. all you learn are things like what their favorite youtube videos are and how many doughnuts they can eat in one sitting."

    Okay. I don't know who you are. I don't remember how I stumbled upon your blog and I don't know why I've spent the past hour reading various posts instead of working on my research paper. What I do know is that you have perfectly described exactly how I've always felt but have been incapable of putting into words. How can I adequately thank you for this?

    1. Bronwyn: so glad you're here! Now we can be blog friends and mutually commiserate about our frustration with our bangs, our love of Nutella, and our willingness to do anything to avoid writing research papers. Cheers!