Eric and I (along with many standers-by) had an interesting if short discussion at the Bachelor Party last night that I wanted to flesh out a little today. He essentially told me I have two problems, and I totally agreed with him – those two being my idealistic romantic conception of relationships, and my inexperience with relationships. The former is causal to the latter, he said, and although I mostly agreed with his point, I do think there is value to the “romantic” view.
I basically see there being two camps of relationship generation – the friend-centric, and the date-centric. In the friend-centric camp, you “discover” over time which particular person you want to step it up with. That is, I am friends with her (or something about that level), and over time I realize I want it to be more than friendship, and thus can the relationship generate. In the date-centric camp, you go in with no particular person in mind, instead giving yourself lots of opportunities to meet a good match. That is, I meet many interesting someones, and go on a date or two (or even just set up time to hang out) and eventually one of them might end up being a good match for me. These two camps are not exclusive, but I think they basically define the idealistic/practical divide for relationships.
There is clear value to the date-centric camp. It is more effective at meeting lots of people, and it’s good at generating relationship experience, and it’s also lower pressure than the friend-centric camp. However, and maybe I’m more alone on this than I’d like among my friends, I do think there’s definite value to the friend-centric camp. Relationships can be a lot more meaningful when you have a long shared experience with the other person. And although there’s usually (in my experience) a higher risk of rejection in the friend-centric case, when there’s mutual attraction, the relationship can be a lot stronger.
I will wholeheartedly admit I am inexperienced with relationships, but just because one of the reasons for that inexperience is my idealism, that doesn’t mean I’m just going to drop it.