Friday, February 5, 2010

In Defense of Courtship Rituals

Earlier this week, I received an email from a male reader with an interesting take on my recent romance with PR exec E.

Based upon my posts about E’s knack for planning elaborate dates, said reader assumed his wining and dining me must have had an ulterior motive – to get me in between the sheets.

As I read his (thankfully) inaccurate take on E’s modus operandi, I couldn’t help thinking how the art of courtship seems to be something increasingly scoffed at in the dating world.

Last year, a conversation with my summer fling during a rare night out found us talking about one of NYC’s five-star restaurants. He asked if previous significant others had taken me there and I said yes.

“Those guys were just trying to impress you,” he said dismissively.

And what, I thought to myself, is so terrible about that? Why is it that, according to the new dating rules, men are often considered foolish for wooing a woman, while women who want and enjoy the experience are made to feel guilty for it?

Over the years, I’ve gone out with men who have taken me out lavishly as as well as those who preferred more low-key courting. Neither approach is wrong, it’s simply -- like the type of person you tend to be attracted to -- a matter of personal preference.

During my time with E, he planned a series of great dates ranging from nights out on the town to quiet, cozy evenings in the neighborhood. He was thoughtful about everything and, when it comes to the art of courtship, there’s nothing more than romantic.


Anonymous said...

If E was so great, why and how did it end with E?

Melissa said...

It ended because of bad timing. E is in the midst of a whirlwind period of travel as his career takes off, while I too am gearing up for a new project (Grand 2010 Plan!) that won't allow me much room for a relationship either.

As for how it ended, the breakup scene was a very civilized one -- over brunch, and with no drama. E shared his new direction at work, I told him about my upcoming plans, and we agreed to stay in touch. Which we have. You never know what the future holds...

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are using each other's busyness as an excuse for a breakup. Or it really wasn't serious. Being busy is not a reason to end a great relationship, right? Everyone is busy. If you were really into him, and he was really into you, you'd stay together and make the most of the limited time you'd have for each other. If someone dumped me during brunch with a sorry excuse of a "whirlwind period of travel as his career takes off," I would walk out, and not bother to stay in touch. I value myself too much to take that crap, and so should you.

Melissa said...

The busyness isn't an excuse -- it's a reality. Shortly after our breakup brunch date, he took off on a month-long business trip that he's still in the middle of, while I'm gearing up for some major traveling myself.

E and I shared a handful of memorable dates together. There was no reason for drama when we parted company. As for the decision to keep in touch, I hardly think that constitutes putting up with anything. It simply allows for the fact that timing has a lot to do with what happens between two people.

City Slicker said...

Well said. I 100% support your assertion that 'trying to impress' is (or can be) a wonderful thing! There have been many times I have wished a guy didn't feel like pulling out all the stops would be some kind of overachiever effort. I think a lot of guys are under the impression that girls will get the 'wrong impression' if they come on too strong with flowers, well-planned dates, fancy restaurants or any real romantic gesture. (They don't want to set the bar too high - God forbid we expect anything from them, right?) At least for semi-old-fashioned girls like me, that kind of courtship would be a welcome reprieve from a dating world that has become bogged down with gender equality concerns and casualness (and, in too many cases: laziness. There, I said it.) Yes, I want you to hold the door, buy me drinks and treat me differently than you treat your platonic friends! Just because you do doesn't mean I'll assume you want to be with me forever and ever. But demonstrating that kind of care, respect, and forethought will set a fantastic foundation for a relationship if one does develop.

Melissa said...

City Slicker -- In case you can't hear it, I'm applauding your thoughtful, insightful words. And I'm in complete agreement with you about the impact that gender equality and modern day mores have had on dating. I've never believed that being respected as a woman means you can't be treated like a lady -- i.e., courted in the fullest, traditional sense of the word -- and thankfully, there are still some men out there who share that view as well.