Sex and the Capital City: You should meet a tall, dark stranger
Before deciding to open my dating life up for public scrutiny, I spent some serious time flipping through my internal Rolodex. It’s only natural to want to date someone who would easily fold right in to your existing network; I have a handful of friends that are either married or close to it, but a stray single dude had to exist in someone’s friend network, right?
Well you might as well call me Katniss Everdeen, because it turns out the odds aren’t entirely in my favor.
The idea of a friendly setup is certainly appealing. At the very least, it communicates the fact that a friend has enough faith in your normalcy that they’re willing to put you under the dating microscope. At best, it’s a seamless addition to your already existing friend network — one that you just so happen to also be sleeping with.
Right off the bat, I went to a couple I know — the sort of adorable pair that plans theme parties and frequents farmers markets in a way that’s both earnest and enviable. But as they went through a list of their available guy friends, words like “afraid of commitment,” “man-child” and “possibly gay” became a recurring theme. So yeah, if these two couldn’t offer someone up, I was pretty much doomed from the get-go.
While the benefits of a friend-approved partner are definitely up there, the probability for backlash is also high.
Yet dating a friend’s friend brings up challenges beyond the lack of available men looking for more than a one-night stand. What happens if and when it doesn’t work out?
While the benefits of a friend-approved partner are definitely up there, the probability for backlash is also high. One step in the wrong direction, and you’re on the fast track to Awkwardtown, USA. Because as awkward as a breakup can be, a breakup with a friend’s friend knocks it out of the park.
Who will be invited to game night? What about group viewings of Mad Men? Don’t even get me started on the birthday parties.
So I posit this — is it better to date a stranger? Sure, even a random would become a friend over time, but the pressure’s off a bit, at least in the beginning. Gone is the built-in background check that you get from a setup, and you run the risk of being stuck at a coffee date with a total nut-job, but in this situation, it may be important to run the cost-benefit analysis. You risk incompatibility more than you would with someone you know (I would have a genuinely hard time dating someone who doesn’t “get” Arrested Development, or fails to appreciate the intricacies of Woody Allen — these are facts), but you also have the opportunity for a clean break.
I’m not trying to condemn the idea of a connection in any capacity — I’m genuinely trying to make sense of this whole dating thing. Alas, I’m back to the drawing board, yet hopeful. If there’s anything that SXSW can teach us (other than the ever-changing landscape of hipster fashion), it’s that new people are around every corner. I may not be locking down love any time soon, but at least I’m getting more knowledgeable about how I might go about getting there.
That’s the same, right?