Over coffee with some friends a few weeks ago, we started reminiscing about the inappropriate people we had dated when we younger. Of course everyone’s measure of inappropriateness is different. But really what we were talking about is the guy that you know you will never end up with. She, for example, had a thing for artists and musicians when she was in her 20s and yet she always wanted a serious corporate type of man for a husband and to raise kids with.
She is currently married to just that type of man. Perhaps you are clear that you want black children, yet there you are dating a white man; or you know are not interested in marrying a Muslim but you have a fling with one. I had heard that men do this recreational dating thing but until this conversation, I had not thought that women do it too. Without giving it too much thought, I had filed all women’s dating as serious. I know, how lazy and inaccurate.
We too date experientially, especially when we are sure that we are prioritising other things at different times of our lives. Maybe a younger man is what you need as you navigate your divorce? Perhaps a slightly older and drama-free man as you finish your masters and work hard at your job?
The idea of dating other people recreationally sounds rather cruel and self-serving. However, as I get older I realise that very few of us have meetings with ourselves and make so-called conscious decisions. Instead, we live our lives in constant reaction to stimuli. We have a picture of how we want our lives to play out and what is really important – like finishing our masters while single, then we give ourselves room to play within those guidelines. We don’t consider the cruelty or foolhardiness of our actions; we are simply following our own agenda and making space for fun.
Nobody wants to believe that they are another person’s recreation – or that you might simply be a ‘thing to do the trick'. So, how do you know if you are someone’s recreation? I guess the easiest way to tell is that there is no talk about the future or doing anything permanent together. If your date or fling talks about their plans without including you at all, that is a major clue – ‘I want…’, ‘I am planning…’ and no talk of ‘we’ is a clear indication that you are not a part of the future they envision.
Not insisting on sexual exclusivity is another clue – as is not being included in the ‘permanent’ part of someone’s life like meeting family and long-term friends. Also, as I told a 36-year-old friend who was dating a 19-year-old girl, "if your sex life is older than your date, honey you are the older guy".