Freedom and Responsibility

We’ve been exploring the unanticipated by-products of the Feminist movement, an emotional process in society that began with the French Revolution 250 years ago. Incredible freedoms have come to the common people as a result of that movement, including greater sexual freedom for women. Greater responsibility must balance this greater freedom in order to preserve the integrity of the social fabric.

What might greater sexual freedom and greater sexual responsibility look like in the dating world? This brings us back to Dating Wisely Concept #6: Differentiate – Know who you are and what you want, and communicate it clearly. Take responsibility for your contribution to the dating world.

Make Every Choice Serve Your Ultimate Goal

If you go into the dating market responsibly, differentiated, you can tailor your way of being in the market to serve the outcome you want. If you want to just hook up, say so. If you want a long-term relationship, communicate that. Then make every choice you make serve your desired outcome–especially when it means turning down a date that doesn’t serve your ultimate goal.

For example, when Jack asked me on Date #2 what I wanted out of a relationship, I told him that I wanted to be with someone who, along with me, would be interested in using the relationship primarily for personal growth and only secondarily for personal fulfillment. Not long after, Jack told me, “I’m just not feeling it like I was.”

I was grateful that Jack was so honest and direct. We could each move on; no harm, no foul.

Don’t Waste Your Resources

Rob, however, never accepted my clear communication about not being interested in a romantic relationship. Most men, when I was clear about my disinterest in either romance or casual sex (which I was quick to determine and always careful to communicate), would hang around for about six months, trying to get me to change my mind, and then they’d move on.

Rob tried to get me to change my mind for five years, despite my carefulness to not lead him on. One way I tried to keep it clear that we were just friends was to pay my way for everything when we hung out together. When Rob even tried to pay for tires for my car (he was in the industry), I insisted on paying for them myself. Tires may be a gift from a father, not from a friend. I even refused to ride on Rob’s motorcycle with him because I knew it would send him an encouraging message…the wrong one…and that would only cause frustration for both of us.

Only when I had been dating Brad for a while did Rob accept that I meant what I said. For those of you who may be dating someone who just doesn’t seem as into you as you are into him/her, don’t waste your resources (time, energy, money). It would have been easy to have dates and gifts and attention for those eight years in the dating market before I met Brad, but I knew that operating like that would come at great emotional cost—sometimes for me, and certainly for the other.

Give and Require Respect

If we want sexual freedom without consequences, this is the kind of respect for the emotional world of the other that men and women need to have for each other. It’s simply sexually responsible. We can’t really complain that the dating market is full of players (male and female) if we’re participating in the games, can we?

If you’re going to be in the dating market, though, you have to realize that many folks are doing just that. They aren’t signaling their intentions clearly for a variety of reasons: 1) they want to hide their intentions (playing, rebounding, hooking up, marriage, financial security, friends with benefits, etc.); 2) they haven’t consciously identified their own intentions; 3) they don’t want to be rejected for their intentions; 4) they don’t want to have to deal with any disparities between their intentions and those of their dates; 5) they don’t realize or acknowledge that others may have different intentions than they do; 6) and so on….

How about you? Do you know your intentions, communicate them clearly and make every dating choice serve them? And do you ask about the intentions of your date? Gotta keep your head about you in this market. It’s a jungle out there!

Tomorrow we’ll look at some more impacts of the Sexual Revolution on your dating life, particularly regarding some unique issues of young adult dating.

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