Slight Escalations


We all live very busy lives. I have to remind myself of this every once in a while. Not everyone is sitting around thinking of you and for people who really want a relationship this can be tough to accept. Even if you say from the outset that you want a relationship and that this is something you’re working hard to get most people think that this is something that everyone says. After all, who doesn’t want to be in a relationship that’s going to lead somewhere? No one wants to date non-stop for the rest of their lives. This is one reason that people are far too picky on first dates. Men in particular, tend to try to leave their options open and an easy way to do that is by re-defining what a date is. We’re much more likely to ask someone to hang out as opposed to a traditional formal date. The reason for this is pretty straightforward. You have plausible deniability. Let’s say you have fun the first time around then you have a number of approaches for the second go around. You can approach it as a date or as one of my friends likes to call it: “a slight escalation.”

The slight escalation involves something more hands on or focused. Whereas first dates are usually set up so that there are easy outs for either party if things turn out to not be going so well the slight escalation is more focused especially when it comes to your direct proximity to your date. I know one couple who got lost on the lakefront. They said it was one of the best dates they’ve ever had. The interesting thing to me about this story is that they both had their cell phones which have GPS. In other words, it’s really hard to truly get lost nowadays so long as you still have some battery life in your cell phone, which is why this was such a special date for them. They chose not to figure it out because they were having fun with one another and they made something rather silly into something fun. That was smart when you think about it because seeing how someone reacts when things don’t go according to plan is a good way to see if this is someone you want to be around given the everyday unpredictability of life.

However you choose to go about the dating process itself the normal pitfalls exist and when you sit down and think about it like a worried worrier would then you see that there is actually far more that can go wrong than can go right. For example, a lot of people have strong feelings about schedules. I’m of the belief that you’re either always early or always late. I understand both mindsets. I think I understand them because I have one parent that is always early and another that is always late. Their approaches to things when it comes to going out in the world and doing something differ vastly. I can’t stand being late because I myself hate waiting. Maybe that’s a silly reason to plan things out but I’ve heard worse reasons. Most people have high expectations when it comes to dating. If someone brings up their “knight in shining armor” I usually roll my eyes and think about how utterly ridiculous it is to think that there is a person out there who does everything you want them to. I believe that is called a robot. People have flaws. That’s just how it goes. Think about how we meet people though. We don’t look for peoples flaws when we meet them, but we sure do when we start dating them. In fact, looking for flaws is usually what the entire first date is about.

Everyone has flaws. There will always be something about someone else that will annoy you. I’ve yet to meet someone who didn’t do at least one thing that annoyed me. Relationships are give and take though. You need to be able to overlook flaws or at least weigh the flaws up against the potential upside. I think there are two views that we go into when we’re dating. One view is the no red light perspective. This basically says that you’re just trying to make sure that the other person isn’t a complete psychopath. The second view is what I call BFF syndrome and it infects more of us than we’d care to admit.

There is this misnomer out there that our boyfriend or girlfriend has to be our best friend or soul mate. If this is your approach to dating then you’re looking for every possible reason to disqualify someone. This makes you very picky and often results in that person either having to accept something later in life that they never would have accepted earlier or still looking for someone well into their later years. I know people like this who are in their forties and still looking for a “decent” person. Try pointing out to them that they’re too picky and look out; here come the personal attacks. You’ve got to be careful with folks like that because they know what they want and they’re going to spend their entire life looking for it whether they find it or not. These people are fond of saying: “I’m through settling” as if there was ever a point in which they deviated at all from exactly what they wanted. The reality of the situation is that no one is going to measure up to this idealized version of a BFF that they’ve created.

As a general rule I think it’s best to go into dating with very low expectations. If you do this however be cognizant that it doesn’t take much to surpass those expectations. If you let things grow organically though chances are that the choice on whether to move forward will become easier because you’ll either be trying to make it work or trying to make it stop. This is an easy way (in theory) to figure out if someone is right for you. Your gut is usually right and if your gut says it’s not going to work out then chances are it won’t. If you let things develop on their own you put yourself in the best position to figure out whether this is someone you want to grow with or not. When you set up a million little barriers on the first date chances are that unless you find the perfect person in your vetting process that you’ll be spending more time on first dates than you will actually dating.

If you go into the dating process with low expectations though the idea of slight escalations will work in your favor because you’re starting from a low baseline.  Your expectations gradually grow along with your relationship with the other person.  This allows for slight elevations in things like trust and time spent together as opposed to hoping for all or nothing scenarios that will largely doom the relationship before it has a chance to go anywhere.  How we approach relationships has more to do with determining the outcome of a relationship than any other factor.  Where we are when we head into a relationship and more importantly who we are will likely play the biggest role in determining the outcome of that relationship.  If you’re not ready for a relationship then it doesn’t matter who you’re dating things just aren’t going to go your way.  You could be dating your knight in shining armor but if you’re not ready for it then it’s all for nothing.  This is why having a solid baseline is important.  If you approach things with the same low expectations every time then you’re approaching things about as close to equal as you can get and as long as you try to maintain that kind of consistency throughout the relationship you should be in a very good place to determine whether the relationship is worth your time or not.

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