I wrote this post last night & have been waffling back & forth about posting it because I am afraid it will sound too provocative when that isn’t how I mean it at all. But at the encouragement of a friend I am posting it anyway. I’ll admit I gave it a provocative title to attract more readers, & also because I frankly couldn’t think of a better title. I think I’m a decent writer but creating titles is a talent I seriously don’t have. Anyway, cheers!
I watched a movie tonight that made me realize something about myself: I’m a cheap date. Now let me expound on that a bit in case you think I mean this in the typical sense of the phrase. The movie was called Nice Guys Sleep Alone & focused on two 30ish adults in Louisville, KY who attempt to start dating each other but quickly realize that they are not interested in dating in the traditional sense of the word. In other words they want to be so much more than just friends & yet they want to be able to spend time together in ways that feel natural & not forced, much the way that friends do. As you might guess from the title of the film, the main male character has always been a “nice guy” & it’s often landed him in the infamous “friend zone.” (For the life of me I’ll never understand why so many girls go after bad guys & ignore nice ones, but that is a whole other blog post right there.) Because he is truly interested in a serious relationship with this woman he decides to take a friend’s advice & not be such a “nice guy” this time, thinking this will actually make her more attracted to him. So he shows up late for their first date, doesn’t bring flowers, & takes her to a local burger joint instead of a fancy restaurant. Not too surprisingly this sends the wrong message to the woman but because this is a movie naturally they eventually work things out.
What this movie made me realize is that I actually LIKE the idea of more “casual” dates in which you go out to “cheap” restaurants (if you know me, you know I’d much prefer a good burger to an expensive steak, sushi, or anything “fancy” ANY day of the week), wear regular clothes, & generally hang out the way friends do. These are the kind of dates my husband & I always had. (I suppose part of the reason for this is that we started dating when we were much too young to be able to go to expensive/fancy restaurants but that’s beside the point.) These are still the kind of “dates” we have if you can call them that when you’re married. And I love it. I hate going to fancy restaurants where you have to dress up (it’s not that I hate dressing up; it’s that I hate feeling like I HAVE to dress up just to gain admission somewhere). It just feels so forced, & I can never really relax when I have to wonder which fork I’m supposed to be using or if I’m even going to know what half the stuff on the menu actually is. (If that makes me unsophisticated, I’ll be the first to admit it.) I’d rather check out local hole-in-the-wall restaurants where I can wear jeans & a t-shirt & no make-up & not feel underdressed at all. I think the reason for this is that I crave intimacy in my relationships. Intimacy requires comfort & who can be comfortable in a black-tie setting? And I don’t just mean intimacy in the physical sense but in the emotional sense. Even in my friendships I don’t want to just talk about fashion, food, or other “superficial” things. I want to have deep conversations about the meaning of life, philosophy, religion, etc. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind less serious conversations but I crave the deeper kind most of all. This is why I will ALWAYS be more comfortable in one-on-one or small group settings than in large groups or big parties. I’ve strayed from the point a bit but what I’m trying to say is that I feel people are the most honest, genuine, & natural versions of themselves in casual settings. Additionally it implies a greater level of trust & comfort if you don’t feel the need to go on all the fancy traditional dates just to get to know someone.
[*Disclaimer: I’m not saying it’s wrong to go to expensive/fancy restaurants or to dress up for dates. I’m just saying this shouldn’t have to be the expectation for everyone & doing something “less” shouldn’t be immediately deemed suspect.]
I think part of the reason modern society is so confused about relationships is that we focus so much on dating when really we should be focusing on building relationships based on friendship & companionship. It’s only natural to me that romance can blossom from such relationships. I really can’t imagine it any other way. I’ve always said any man with $20 can buy me flowers. And any man with a couple hundred dollars can buy me nice jewelry. Those things really take very little thought or effort at all. The most valuable gift any of us can give another is time because it’s the one thing we can never get back.
So, ladies & gentleman, if you want to show someone you care, spend time with them. Invest in their life. Get to know them. If a person is worth knowing they won’t insist you spend $100 on dinner every time you want to hang out. At least that’s what I believe. And if that makes me a cheap date, so be it.
**If you’re wondering why I included a picture of Nick & Jess from New Girl it’s because they are my favorite TV/movie couple ever, the reason being that they are so natural together. They were friends first who in the process of becoming friends also fell in love. I strongly believe this is how the best, most lasting relationships start & it’s so rare to see that portrayed so well in popular media. Hence my obsession with this show. (The fact that they’re both super cute doesn’t hurt either, ha!)