Friday, March 4, 2011

"I'm ready to attempt to polish off my game and reenter the dating scene, but I have one big problem: I live with my parents."

Dear Benny,

I am a dude in my mid-twenties who just got out of a long relationship. I'm ready to attempt to polish off my game and reenter the dating scene, but I have one big problem: I live with my parents. Is this going to be an immediate deal breaker? I know girls who also live at home - is trying to get with a girl who lives at home a better or worse idea for someone in my situation? I have a job, but I I need to save for grad school, so I don't want to move out yet.
There's two parts to this: one, the logistical problem of not having anywhere to go back to hang out. Two, the stigma attached to living at home. How do I deal with this situation?

Low On Self-Esteem in Rockaway

Dear Rockaway (because I refuse to type out LOSER),

Before I start dishing out some advice, I've got to thank you for sending your message and reviving this advice page. I feel like I lost some interest and some readers, perhaps due to my attempt at being an herbalist last time. In any case, thanks for writing.

Dating while living with your parents may seem like a unique predicament, but it in fact belongs to the greater category of dating predicaments which I like to call Limbo Dating.

Limbo Dating didn't used to be a big deal. People used to always meet while in limbo and then get out of limbo together... or stay in limbo together for the rest of their lives. This was partially due to the old-fashioned value of loyalty, which is, in many ways, being phased out of American culture. Maybe it comes from the sexual revolution. Maybe it comes from the "schizophrenic economy" revolution. Maybe it comes from the "extreme wealth gap" revolution.

In any case, Limbo Dating is tough, but manageable. The biggest risk you can run into in Limbo Dating is not the lack of money, or the lack of good places to go. The biggest risk you can run into in Limbo Dating is that the whole business can feel just a little bit heavier than it would otherwise just because of the lack of luxuries you have.

I once asked a friend of mine the big esoteric question of "What makes a man a man?" It was one of those shooting-the-metaphysical-shit conversations. His response was interesting- and not metaphysical at all. He said that he thinks we really become men when we realize that it's not worth obsessing over a girl unless you're already obviously heading toward a long-term relationship with her. Otherwise, in his words, "It's just like you're on a TV show, and she's the girl of the week."

I started to think that maybe there was more to this than my friend even realized. I thought about Jerry Seinfeld's long string of girlfriends and how they're all remembered only for one quirk. Then I thought about why it is that I found myself talking about girls like that lately (to a much lesser extent... after all, life is not Seinfeld, despite how much it resembles it sometimes). 

I realized that, when I tell stories, I give nicknames because it's a reminder of how little I actually know a girl. When you start saying her real name in conversation, or even refer to her as "that girl I like," it's easy to start believing that there's more to it than there is. But when you call a girl you like, "Indianapolis Girl," or something else silly like that, it's a reminder that you don't know all that much about her other than that descriptor.

What does this have to do with limbo dating? A lot, actually. Because the thing about limbo dating is that, due to your lowered dating opportunities, it's easier to put more stock into people than we really should. 

Even though you're in our parents' house, and inviting a girl inside is a dramatic step to take, on the inside, you're still the same dude you'd be if you were living in a bachelor pad. When you are living on your own again, that feeling of casualness will come much more naturally. Right now, it will take some effort. But it will be worth it.

Now, Rockaway, I'll do what I usually do here and move on from my sweeping theoretical take to give quick, direct answers to your concerns.

1) The logistical problem of having nowhere to hang out.

This is actually the easiest part. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to forget you live with your parents when you're going out to bars. Sure, the idea that you can't take her home may lower your confidence somewhat, but there's no reason for your mind to go there while you're actually on the date.

And, besides, imagine the tension that could result from making out in a bar without the easy escape route of a house that's not your parents'. The build-up could get so great that it takes you back to the high school way of thinking, where "My parents won't be home 'til late," was just as promising as "You want to come to my place?" 

Imagine how awesome and dangerous that could be! It would be like all the dangerous fun of high school hook-ups, but without the drawback of being a high schooler.

2) The stigma

Hell. I guess I already talked about the stigma. Going back to Seinfeld for a moment, remember the episode where George introduces himself to girls with, "Hi, I'm George, I'm unemployed and I live with my parents?" Remember how far his bold honesty gets him?

There's some truth to that, too. The stigma is there, but fuck it. Having your own place makes it a hundred times easier to have fun, but it's not who you are. You're not living in a convenient bachelor pad, but you will one day, and when you do, that'll be awesome, and you'll also be the same cool dude that you are today. 

So why not act like that cool dude you already are?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haha sweet advice....George did all right anyways

Cool concept for a post series

James from