Beth Cook is a dating coach and wing-woman who throws private dating events for San Francisco’s most awesome and unattached. She also writes and draws about her own dating experiences and would love to hear from you. Want advice? Have advice? Send her an email.
Last summer, I decided to go to an “eco hotel” in Puerto Vallarta to a.) see if I could bring my high-maintenance life downstream (if just for 5 days), and b.) so I could brag about it to my San Francisco friends (yep, that’s what we do here).
Given that it was off-season, I shared the resort with just two couples who were my companions for the community dinners. One couple was married and already knee deep in resentment. The other had just met—literally. She was a yoga teacher from somewhere in Brazil, and he was a hunter from Alaska. They traveled to Mexico—a global midpoint—to meet each other in person after connecting via InternationalCupid.com.
Wow, I thought, now that’s a commitment. What if your international date sucks?
I admired them though. No risk, no reward…right? Their cavalier attitude reminded me of how Europeans date—something I learned from a French girlfriend just a month prior. She inquired how my date with an English chap went by simply asking, “How was the sex?”
ME: What? It was a first date.
HER: Oh, is that not what you do here?
ME: Not if you want to have a second date!
HER: Interesting. In France, we don’t date. We meet someone, have sex, and then try out a relationship.
I loved the idea. No going on dates with three different people in one week. No waiting months to decide if they are worthy of your exclusivity or vice versa. You just try on a shoe for a short while and see if it fits. Brilliant.
Unfortunately, Americans like shopping around—for shoes and dates. We like comparing things, weighing options, dipping our toes in the water—one at a time—before making any sort of commitment.
Online dating has outrageously exacerbated this consumery behavior. We compare digital snapshots of human beings as if they were Amazon.com books. And we toss them aside just as easily if any expectations go unmet. No one is ever just right. We’re always looking for the next best thing.
I think people deserve to be considered one at a time. Juggling dates prevents emotional intimacy and delays the inevitable—discovering if a partnership is awesome or the worst idea in the world. Plus, dating is exhausting! Do me a favor and try love the foreign way (first date sex optional; deodorant not optional).
Photo by Jeroen Bennink