There are many cultural expectations that contribute to how we think we are supposed to act when it comes to meeting someone of the opposite sex. However traditional dating as a way for men and women to connect with each other puts people in the position of having to be inauthentic. What do we mean by inauthentic? Basically it means not doing and saying what you really want, but instead acting in order to get something. A friend of mine from Europe thinks the American idea of dating is strange since in her experience men and women meet by hooking up. Then if they keep in touch, the two people become friends with benefits or have an exclusive relationship.
Why is traditional dating inauthentic? Here are several reasons:
1) It shifts the focus from who to be to how to how can I appear a certain way.
The questions men ask, where should I take her? How do I know she is interested? etc. seem like a chore and put him in a weakened position of essentially buying her affection. While most people accept this convention without question, when it comes right down to it money is a medium of exchange. So this is part of the context that is being established.
These are not the types of questions that a man to come from a position of power, that he has just as much or more to offer to her, as she does for him. Instead of asking how he can be challenging and emotionally engaging to be attractive. Instead the question becomes one of superficial appearances, how does this make me look?
2) Traditional dating activities do not make a woman attracted to a man.
You can’t have a conversation during a movie, or see their facial expressions. When you are having dinner you are separated across a table so once again you don’t necessarily get a chance to have a free flowing conversation that is not interrupted.
What is important is that you have a setting that lets you interact with someone in the way that you want and can express who you are and what you want. Then you and the other person can develop feelings of attraction to each other when you are around them and when you are thinking about them. However for those feelings to develop from dating it often seems like it happens by chance and that it is not something you can control.
3) People often aren’t really doing and saying what they really want
If one or both of you are interested in having sex, do you really want to have an interview with them? Or would you rather feel free to go for what you want and go for a test drive? However within the dating context people ask questions for which they don’t care about the answers, and the person answering them might rather be talking about something else too.
Sexual communication tends to be suppressed. Men don’t want to be a “bad guy” who is just out for sex, and women don’t want to be too forward because it might threaten the guy or make her seem too easy. But it could be that both people want the same thing, sex, but are holding onto the dating act they believe they should fulfill, instead of just going for it.
4) Dating puts pressure on women too
If a guy pays for the date then a woman could feel some sort of obligation to stick around until the end of the night and at least act polite even if she is not feeling any attraction to the guy. I’ve heard stories from women who had guys that were visible irritated because the nice dinner out didn’t even get them a kiss on the cheek. To be polite a woman may feel pressure to go for the obligatory quick kiss and say things like call me, when really you were not interested.
So those are a few reasons why dating is inauthentic. The more authentic you are the faster you can find out if someone else is on the same page and the mutual attraction is there.