They tout their independence and take care of themselves, but when it comes to old fashioned perks, like who picks up the check, you’d think it was 1955.
Unless you’re psychic or only date people who agree with you on subjects that often destroy relationships, such as sex and money, you’ve probably found dating in Los Angeles to be particularly complicated.
If you’re like me, someone on a spiritual journey, you’ve most likely learned that — as opposed to the usual craving and aversion that result in suffering — the remedy for most of what ails us is authenticity. But when dating, unless both parties agree in advance to drop assumptions, expectations, facades and roles, it can be a recipe for disaster – especially L.A.
Let me provide an example that will demonstrate what happens when things go awry. This is not a tale of right and wrong. This is a tale of incongruent expectations and insufficient communication. If there is anyone to blame I take 100 percent of the responsibility.
I met a woman on a dating site who I thought was awesome. Within 30 minutes of sitting down for a casual coffee (to which we both showed up early — a good sign in my book), she revealed her prior extensive drug addiction (while managing to graduate with honors from a prestigious university — huge bonus points for delving into her shadow side at a young age and coming out relatively unscathed) and we bonded over our love of music and our experiences in the music business. I think that both of us were excited for a more formal rendezvous so I proposed we have dinner a few nights later.
Again, both of us showed up early and the conversation didn’t lag for one second. It felt as if we could talk forever about our non-conventional lives, our mutual interests, our similar travels and our careers.
The check came and being the male part of the equation, I reached for it, but not too quickly. It sat between us for a minute before I slid it slowly towards me and put a card down. My new friend, who is definitely in favor of women’s liberation, women’s equality, women getting paid the same amount as men, etc. did not motion her hands towards her purse nor did she say, “I’ll get the next one.”
Again, this is not a tale of right and wrong; this is a tale of incompatible expectations, insufficient communications, and maybe a tinge of hypocrisy of which we are all guilty.
If men and women are equal then we have equal rights and responsibilities, correct? This implies disregarding our culture’s underlying myths of knights in shining armor coming to save damsels in distress and other chivalrous malarkey that feminists labored so hard to eliminate.
We continued to chat for another twenty minutes and then went our separate ways.
The next morning I texted to thank her for another vivacious conversation and invite her for a walk on the beach that weekend. She texted back that she was leaving for three weeks and we could get together when she returned. I wished her a pleasant trip.
Here are the subliminal messages that I received from the aforementioned snippets:
- Not reaching for her purse or offering to get the next one said, “I expect to be taken care of.”
- Texting that I should leave her alone for three weeks said, “I’m fiercely independent, I don’t need you, I’m my own woman.”
OK, so you’re your own woman but you expect men to buy you dinner? Sounds like a mixed message to me.
On Planet Ira — because men and women are equals — we both reach for our wallets. One of us says, “I’ll get this one,” and the other one says, “That’s very kind of you. Thank you very much. I’ll get the next one.”
But isn’t this a problem inherent in the system? Don’t we all want to be loved unconditionally and only have tools and symbols to convey love conditionally because we’re successful, smart, sexy, rich, pretty, articulate, independent, etc.? It seems the conventions of courtship make us all hypocrites in some ways.
The only solution is to communicate clearly and honestly so that expectations don’t wreak havoc on our lives. On the other hand, authenticity can often be unromantic, even un-erotic, particularly for men who are taught to create invulnerable facades and not display vulnerability.
Navigating subjects such as sex and money — particularly when trying to start a new relationship — is usually awkward and painful, but it appears to be the only solution for those seeking true, enduring intimacy.
Copyright © Ira Israel/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.