The Dating Game

I recently ended a seven-year relationship that came very easy to me, in hindsight. The story is simple: boy meets a man who is ready to settle down, they date and three months later move in together. On a fateful New Year’s Day, boy realizes he is not the boy the man fell in love with and that his happiness should no longer be subverted for the sake of saving face.

Now, at 27, I realize that there are some things I never learned how to do, which makes being a single black gay man in 2012 difficult, and sometimes depressing. At the top of the list of things I never learned how to do? Dating.

I had the opportunity to spend time with a few men in the last few months and I realize that I have questions that need to be answered:

  1. If you are serious about dating someone, why do you have to learn “the rules of the game” to get or maintain their attention?
  2. Who made up all these rules?
  3. Is it possible to go to a movie, dinner, the park or a museum without expecting “dessert” following the day’s festivities?
  4. Is there such a thing as “exclusively dating” now?
  5. When is it acceptable to have the “where is this going?” conversation?

Even though I don’t have any of the answers,  I do have a few observations for the other hopeless romantics and “daters” (using the term loosely):

  1. You can’t be mad when two months into “talking to someone,” they appear to be different than the person you originally met. These unwritten rules of the game make people feel like they have to appear a certain way. And frankly, I would be concerned if nothing changed at all.
  2. I don’t know who made up the rules, but you make the conscious decision to play the game. If it becomes too much work to maintain, then the man you are after IS NOT THE MAN FOR YOU. Trust me, let him go. As Drake said, you will “thank me later.”
  3. Casual sex does not lay a good foundation for a solid relationship. You don’t have to hold out until marriage, but it shouldn’t be immediate either.
  4. Have a conversation about expectations with him. Be willing to accept where they are in their life’s journey and be honest with yourself about whether or not you can tolerate it.
  5. There should be no set time for having candid conversations with people about a future. If the vibe is right, talk about it. That way, at least you know what to expect. If the other party is not interested in having the conversation, then decide if you can wait or not. You both deserve to be on the same page.

Ultimately, when we date, we must remember that games are better left to those who indulge in video games; being conscious of the fact that such engagement is in virtual reality.  No one can sustain the transition of hijacking vehicles on Xbox to stealing and breaking hearts in reality