Thursday, June 05, 2003

Sex and the single girl

Not the Helen Gurley (*snicker*) Brown book, though I've always meant to read that. No, this is about my single friends (and me).

A lot of my friends seem to know absolutely everything about one another. What's more, they all seem perfectly comfortable thinking that it's their (and/or each other's) business. I find this slightly off-putting, but not enough to stop listening when one of them tries to tell me all about another's date last October and why it was so awful. Let's face it, I am human.

Rather than sit around knowing all of my friends' secrets (which are, in fact, no such thing), I have decided to look at the information somewhat objectively and present the highlights here. Consider it 'The Rules' according to my friends.

First of all, apparently there is new dating etiquette. I say 'new' as though the girls in question were younger than me - they are, in fact, not. Maybe this is a California thing...except that they are not all Californians.

Did you know that all dates split the bill? Not necessarily in the old-fashioned 'going dutch' style, though. It seems that one person pays for the drinks and one for dinner, if it is that sort of date. This seems like a fine practice, really, but I always preferred the 'I'll get this one - you buy next time' style of dating.

Then there is the matter of permanence. I have a friend who is in a fairly new relationship. Two months, perhaps a bit more. They are in the spending-as-much-time-as-possible-together stage, have said 'I love you' to each other, and recently had what I can only assume was their first fight (surely I'd have heard about it if there were others). I won't go into detail, but will say that she found a suspicious (but, it turned out, innocent) item in his belongings. He didn't explain satisfactorily, and she commented that she just wanted an explanation so that she'd know if she had to break up with him. Certainly there is some sense in the 'if he cheats, lose him' mentality. But it has never been that cut-and-dry for me, and I marvel at the confidence with which she said it.

Perhaps I am old-fashioned, in some strange way. After all, I have only dated 2 1/2 men since I care to remember, and perhaps another 2 or 3 before that. I've always felt (digression alert) that children of divorce are more likely to fight for a relationship. We also, in my experience, are more likely to want to get married, retarded as that may sound. It is my further theory that we children of divorce have already experienced the worst thing humanly possible - our own parents' divorce - and therefore it cannot possibly be any worse. Or maybe we just want to do better than our parents. I don't know. (Digression over.)

Sex. I don't know if there is a handbook, or if it is merely the people I know, but it seems that there are more taboos than I remember from my pre-long-term relationship days. Anything that fits into the category I call 'porno sex' is off-limits, it seems, and any dates trying it get the boot out of bed. Now, there were certainly many things that I refused to try for a long time, but I don't think there was ever a list, per se. Not to mention that most of my bed partners have been fairly willing to discuss the sex we were having, thereby avoiding most nasty surprises (though there is, unfortunately, no way to discuss ahead of time whether you will be compatible).

I don't think that Will and I ever moved past the spending-as-much-time-as-possible-together part of our relationship. Even when we were broken up and 2000 miles apart, we spoke on the phone nearly every day, and sought each other's approval for the lives we were leading separately. I admit that we are an odd couple. There is also the question of money - or rather, there has never really been any question. There has, certainly, been tension, as usually one of us is paying the bills and the other living off the one income, but it's never been a question that we pool our resources, such as they are. We no longer have a joint checking account, but I imagine that if I asked him to he'd add my name to his, even though I am a lazy no-good lie-about.

[This is my anti-climactic ending.]