How To Date In 2018

The conversation surrounding #MeToo is changing what it means to date smart
The conversation surrounding #MeToo is changing what it means to date smart

Most people who didn’t meet their soul mate in high school wouldn’t call dating “easy”. Sure, online dating and apps like Tinder have changed the game when it comes to meeting new potentially date-worthy people, but with a new norm has come new challenges. For example, have you ever noticed that going to a bar is a lot less likely to result in meeting someone than it used to? That’s because everyone would rather stick close to their friends and swipe though people to meet up with later than put themselves out there with someone in person.

Furthermore, movements like #MeToo and #TimesUp have shed a lot of light on things that people didn’t really talk about as being considered harassment or assault before. While it’s safe to say the majority of women have come to terms with the fact that they have experienced sexual harassment in their lives, many men are having a hard time accepting that they might have been the ones to take things too far at some point.

For example, the debate over whether Aziz Ansari’s encounter with a woman who went by “Grace” was harassment or just a bad date is pretty split. Nothing is black and white anymore—well, it never really was, we just didn’t talk about it. So, how can you make sure you’re approaching dating in a way that is respectful and effective at the same time? Keep the following tips in mind:

Listen, listen, listen
There’s nothing more important in a relationship—of any kind—than being able to listen to each other. Not just sitting quietly while they talk waiting until it’s your turn to speak, but genuinely listening to what they’re saying. What they aren’t saying is just as important as well. Body language, non-verbal cues, and facial expressions—these things count too. We’re no longer living in a time where explicitly saying “yes” or “no” are the only acceptable ways to express yourself. That might sound unfair, but it’s reality. Consent is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re paying attention.

Be willing to talk about it
Talking about sex can be awkward, sure. But it really shouldn’t be. If you can’t speak up about what you want, you’re going to have a hard time getting it. Women are learning to be more vocal about their needs, so men have to be willing to meet them half way. Even during a casual encounter, it’s important to talk about what you’re both expecting. One columnist even wrote about encouraging her son to get the girl he was with to send him a text that explicitly gave consent. While that might seem a little bit extreme, it just shows how important it is to be diligent in protecting yourself. Also, remember that consent can go away at any moment, which is where the listening and paying attention thing will come in handy.

Be aware of boundaries
Boundaries are a highly subjective thing. That means just because your ex was into something, doesn’t mean every woman is. Not to mention that when you know someone well and are comfortable with them, trust comes easier. A woman you’ve just met or are only casually dating probably doesn’t fully trust you yet. While it’s true that hookup culture has confused the issue of boundaries and made it acceptable and enjoyable to engage in casual encounters, no two woman and no two situations will be exactly alike—and you can’t expect them to be. After all, it’s the same thing as when your well-thought out pickup line lands perfectly with one woman but falls completely flat with another.

Banish assumptions
Just because you take a woman out to dinner, doesn’t mean she owes you anything. And just because she agrees to come over for a drink, doesn’t mean she definitely wants to sleep with you. No one is entitled to anything from anyone else, and making assumptions in dating will rarely turn out the way you want it to. So stop making assumptions. Instead, go into every date with an open mind and just take things as they come.

Expect the same respect in return
Women aren’t the only ones that experience sexual harassment and find themselves in situations that have gotten out of hand. While women are often the ones that feel like they have less power in these kinds of situations, it can happen to guys too. If a woman has taken things too far or you feel uncomfortable, you can absolutely choose to change your mind and leave. One aspect of toxic masculinity is the assumption that if a man has the opportunity to have sex, he’ll always take it, or that men can’t be raped or assaulted by a woman. Gender or sexual orientation have nothing to do with it. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and sometimes those feelings can change on a dime. After all, we’re all human, right?

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick

Courtney Hardwick is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared on AmongMen.com, 29secrets.com, therichest.com, and ELLECanada.com.  When she isn’t writing about relationships, and the best TV shows and books you should really already know about, she is working on her novel. She hopes to have it published by 2025. You can follow her on Twitter @Courtooo.

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