When did ‘dating’ become a thing in Trinidad?
Well…depending on who you ask…dating has always been a thing in Trinidad, we’ve just always called it by another name (make that no name at all), or neglected to distinguish between the different sub-categories of dating, which apparently exist.
Now, I’ve always known it must be possible to date in Trinidad…and back when I was a teen I’m sure I would have called it ‘dating’ when I was hanging out/hooking up with a boy I didn’t want anyone to refer to as my boyfriend.
Is that what dating is now? The arm’s length we keep potential significant others at because we just can’t deal with the commitment? Well…this person is cool…but do I want to have obligations to them? Do I want them to have a say in my life – like how my free time is spent, or whether or not they can share my food?
Well, no. My friend Mel theorises that there are three categories of dating:
1) Dating just to pass the time. You’re not emotionally invested in this person. You just casually go out from time to time, have a few good conversations if you’re lucky, maybe fuck, maybe not, whatever. It’s no biggie and when it’s done you hardly miss it.
2) Dating to assess whether someone is a suitable candidate for a relationship. This is the probation period where you like this person but before you dive in head first, you want to make sure they won’t murder you in your sleep. At least not right away. Either person may choose to see other people at the same time. Some toting may be involved if shit goes left.
3) ‘Dating’ ie that is my man and this is my woman. Exclusive relationship here folks.
So, apparently those are all the potential definitions of ‘dating’. My understanding has always been #3. It’s what I’ve always done. I see you, I like you, I make you my boyfriend. Talk done til you fuck up, I find out you’re insane, or I get bored.
But now, basking in all the wisdom that has washed over me since I’ve been flying solo, I’ve begun to reassess my approach.
Perhaps I should be more discriminating. Perhaps I should take a stab at this dating thing, the one where I actually put people on ice for a bit before I claim them.
Experience has dictated that people are duplicitous as all hell. One thing to your face and an entirely different person once you turn your back.
If there was some way to figure out what someone’s problem was, before you’re in too deep, wouldn’t you want to take it?
It all sounds like a no-brainer, right?
So what’s my problem?
Well I have several. Lol.
First and probably most basic is…I’m not entirely sure I know what a date is. Like when does it stop being two people just hanging out…and wander into date territory? Or was it never just hanging out, it was actually dating the whole time and I just don’t know?
And it also doesn’t help that unsolicited male attention borderline terrifies me. Worse yet when it’s supposed to be your friend…then all of a sudden you getting track and it’s like what just happened? Ah! This is scary.
I’m an incredibly awkward person when it comes to navigating that kind of social territory. If you ask me out unexpectedly I immediately go into a panic spiral and talk utter garbage in an effort to get myself out of it. Smooth, this one…smooth.
Another burning question: how do people find time to date multiple people? Like…where do you find the hours? Between work, gym, sleep and Netflix, and the time I try to set aside to see my friends, I couldn’t fathom finding the time to see multiple yet-to-be-determined-essential people. Also…how does that work? You play emotional Russian roulette and hope you win somehow?
I guess I’m not good at doing anything halfway, so when I invest time in someone, I invest TIME in someone. And energy. Splitting up that energy and sending it off with different people seems like a colossal waste, and an exhausting endeavour.
Props to all the people who can do it and maintain their sanity, but I’m not entirely sure it’s for me.
So then how DO you invest said time and energy into just one person…AND manage your expectations well enough that if shit goes left and you realise this may not work, that you don’t feel just as badly as you do after a breakup? I mean…you may not feel AS badly…but I’ve been floating happily here in this nice emotionally neutral, completely drama-free single life that even the slightest disruption, I think, will feel pretty lame.
Managing expectations has always been a challenge for me. I constantly expect the same of other people as I do of myself. What I put out, I usually expect to get back, and that happens maybe one out of every ten times in my life, lol.
This year was meant to be my exercise in learning to have less expectations…but I’m not too sure how I’m meant to do that if I don’t engage in any activity that tests said ability.
Meh, this is tricky.
Truth be told…I’m…scared? Is that the word? I don’t know…maybe. Wary. Let’s use wary.
Cliche as all hell but true – I’m very wary of getting close to anyone right now. I’m very wary of giving an actual shit about anyone that isn’t me or my best friends (you bitches know who you are, don’t start me).
I really wanted to finish this on some profound note.
Writing this has been difficult.
Mainly because I think I still am not 100% sure how I feel about any of it.
However, let me leave you with the three most valuable lessons I got from my Facebook poll:
1) Communication is key. Be very clear about what you want and do not want. What you are doing and what you are not doing. What you expect and what you do not expect. Everyone may not end up on the same page after all is said, but that’s better than a shit ton of mixed signals and blurred lines.
2) Leave physical intimacy out of it unless you’re certain it won’t impair your judgement or decision-making ability. Spoiler alert: if you have a vagina, it probably will.
3) Manage your expectations. Don’t go planning your life with this person when you’re not even sure they’re feeling you the same way. Just be chill, try to relax and take it one day/date at a time. Easier said than done of course, but it seems like a pretty important part of this new age dating game people are so taken with.
I think I’m done. If I decide I’m not…I’ll be back.