Are you an old-fashioned romantic at heart? Are you frustrated by the modern dating "treadmill," the dime-a-dozen mentality, the hookups, the technological fade-outs?
Keep your heart intact with these "old-fashioned" dating strategies!
1) Meet people in the real world.
We are more connected than ever to the idea of people by way of social networks and less connected than ever to actual living breathing people. We take the train to work, armed with earbuds and a Kindle. We spend the workday on a computer. At night, we settle in for a busy evening of Facebook and Netflix.
It is for this reason that relationship-seeking folks are often encouraged to have a presence on sites like Match.com, eHarmony or Plenty of Fish, and to spend all their free time madly communing with other date-seeking folks, while growing thin and gaunt and pale and ignoring the dishes and the phone and the doorbell.
Put yourself out there, they say! -- but the logic is counterintuitive.
Physical attraction is determined by pheromones. Nature has created these cantankerous, wily chemicals to assure that subsequent generations of human beings possess the strongest genetics possible.
Unfortunately, one cannot suss out attraction on dating websites. No matter how appealing a guy or girl may seem to be online, how attractive the photos, how witty the online write-up, or how much you have in common (Monty Python or artisanal mozzarella-making, anybody?) there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting.
We all have that friend who carried out a months-long, torrid online romance with that guy from Vladivostok, only to find out, upon finally meeting, that there was no chemistry at all.
Translation: Get out of the house. Change up the old routine. Meet some new people. They won't bite.
2) Sloooww things down.
This isn't the Indy 500. If it is a long-term relationship that you seek, ease off on the "second-or-third-date rule" and really get to know somebody before getting intimate. Jumping the gun too early, so to speak, can cause a promising relationship to fizzle rather than sizzle.
Nowadays, we have pills and prophylactics to mitigate the risks of pregnancy or STIs. Big Pharma has yet to manufacture a morning-after pill for a broken heart. Know thyself.
Many people will accuse you of being "old-fashioned." These folks will (guess what?) hit the road. So what? The right person will respect your choices.
3) Allow romance to flourish.
Yes, this is super cheesy, but desire maketh the heart grow stronger. The greatest artwork in human history has been inspired by longing. Would the French love of poetry of the Middle Ages ever have come about if the troubadours had hooked up right after the first Appletini? Would we have Champagne or flamenco guitar or five-course candlelit meals without romantic longing? Non, ma cheri.
It is important to be silly, to be vulnerable, and to be real with people we love or in whom we are at least interested. We need to learn to give without the expectation of return. This can be difficult stuff, especially in a transactional dating culture permeated by disposability and snark.
So, go ahead. Pick some wildflowers, plan a picnic or bake some cookies for your date (all without posting to Facebook. I dare you. Nobody has to know).
4) Be clear about your intentions.
In the days of yore, if a man asked a woman out, he was either interested in dating her or was planning to pay for her time, if you catch my drift.
While "friends with benefits" and other riffs on the casual relationship ad infinitum may work for some, they are an epic fail for many others. Unless both partners are of stratospheric maturity levels, somebody ends up being hurt. Usually, this will be the person who is, perhaps foolishly, waiting for a deeper commitment from somebody willing to give it "after work slows down," or "after football season," or "after my highlights grow out," or some other cockamamie reason. Do you know when this will come about? "When hell freezes over."
Several generations ago, unscrupulous operators (both male and female) would be castigated by the community. There is less accountability now.
The moral of the story? Never use people. Don't string them along. Don't be dishonest with them. Karma is a bugger. Above all, do not be dishonest with yourself. If you find yourself googling "Does my boyfriend/girlfriend like me?" he or she, most likely, does not. It is better to be alone than be with somebody and be lonely.
5) Bag the texting and Facebooking.
Fear not the voice of your fellow man or woman on the telephone. The telephone was all the rage back in the day. This handy telecommunications device can be quite handy. Use it. Texting and Facebooking shouldn't become the sole method of communication, as there are only so many responses to an emoticon, only so many creative responses to "hey" and "hey, how are you?"
And -- if you must part ways -- man or woman up. Pulling a technological "fade-out" is totally for wusses.
6) Don't use "busyness" as an excuse.
No matter how full your plate, previous generations were busier. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers logged many hours per week in grueling factory jobs.
Our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had to carry their own water or grow and can their own food or take care of seven kids and walk seven miles to school in seven feet of snow and do homework by candlelight in the evening.
Take stock of your time and set intentions and priorities rather than letting "busyness" (also known as "self-absorption") set the agenda.
Try these tips from the halcyon days of yore. You won't be disappointed!
Original version first appeared on Elephant Journal.