Back when I used to mentor teens via a high school program that I was a part of, something that used to trigger me to sigh, incessantly so, was the fact that they had absolutely no idea what a date was. To them, having some guy hang out at their house when their mama wasn’t home and then having sex with him before she came back qualified. Low bar. LOW. DAMN. BAR.
You know what, though? I’ve been talking to a lot of women who are 10-30 years past graduating from high school and, fascinatingly enough, it appears that a lot of them haven’t been on any official dates either. The realization is actually what inspired me to write “Have You Ever Wondered What Qualifies As A REAL Date?” (if you’re not sure if you’ve ever been on a date before, PLEASE check it out). And then, as if the universe was totally cosigning on my le sighs, I peeped that some of the biggest dating trends for this year consists of spending less time in someone’s bed (at least initially) and more time getting to know each other in other ways — and I was beyond thrilled to hear it!
Are you ready to hear about some dating trends that your grandmama can actually smile about? Here we go.
What in the World Is Dry Dating?
OK, so if someone was a heavy drinker and they declared that they were going to go “dry” for a season, what would that cause you to think? If your answer is that they aren’t going to have any alcohol for a while, you would be exactly right. And along these same lines, that’s what dry dating is all about — it’s about removing all forms of physical affection and sexual intimacy in exchange for making more mental and emotional connections with someone (again, initially). As a matter of fact, most dating experts who speak on the topic of dry dating say that it also includes avoiding a semi-standard goodnight kiss.
So, what are you supposed to do instead? See, if you have to ask that question, then I know you’re someone who hasn’t been properly dated in a while. Visit a museum or art gallery. Do some sightseeing. Take a class together. Try out each other’s favorite restaurants. Go on a wine or brewery tour. Discuss each other’s top love languages and plan dates around each (check out “15 Date Ideas Based On Your Love Language”). Go ice or roller skating. Take each other to a personal must-see spot in the city. Go out for breakfast or brunch instead of the traditional dinner. Try a Sip and See.
I promise you, once you take anything physical totally off of the table, you’ll be amazed by how much you both can tap into your creative pools to come up with some cool ways to spend some quality time together. That is if you both succeed in passing the hard-ball round which brings me to my next point.
What the Heck Is Hard-Balling?
I’m gonna be honest. When I first read about this particular trend, initially, I was a little bit on the iffy side about sharing/recommending it because I’ve had a few single clients who tend to take this to the ultimate extreme. Before getting into all of that, though, I guess I should share what hard-balling is all about. Back in the day, some of the women I know called it “dating to marry” or “dating with a purpose.” While, on a lot of levels, that is definitely considered to be hard-balling all right, it’s basically what you do when you make sure to state your intentions and expectations on the front end — before a date even transpires.
As far as pros and cons go, a “pro” to this is, to a certain degree, you can get to know where someone’s head is and what their intentions are before gracing them with your physical presence — and well, since none of us can ever get wasted time back, that’s a good thing. The flip side to this is, if you go on-10 with your approach and conversations come off as interrogations, it could turn your “date potential” off, whether they were initially on the same page as you or not.
That’s why, if you decide to go the hard-balling route, it’s still a really wise idea to take the casual conversation approach. Maybe play a round of 20 questions (avoid making all of them super serious too) or do a Zoom call where you both greet each other with a glass of wine. If you state what you are interested in, in that type of setting, the mood is more relaxed; plus, you can read each other’s body language.
Listen, a lot of folks don’t wanna hear me on this but far too often, questioning can be so aggressive that it causes people to think that they have to put a wall up to protect themselves. That’s not what hard-balling should be about. The main objective is to get some of the usual first date questions out of the way so that your date can put you at ease because you know that both of you are pretty much looking for the same things.
How Both of These Can Make Dating in the New Year So Much Better
And just why do I think, in my humble opinion, that more people should be down with dry dating and hard-balling in 2022? A lot of it has to do with something that I’ve shared on this platform before. A lot of y’all know that I’m not the biggest fan of the word “casual,” especially when it comes to sex and matters of the heart because I know what the word means — “without definite or serious intention; careless or offhand; passing,” “seeming or tending to be indifferent to what is happening; apathetic; unconcerned” and “without emotional intimacy or commitment.” I mean, if at the end of the day, this is totally what you are looking for, you’re grown and do you.
However, if you’re someone who is on the verge of never wanting to date again because either you’re fed up with piss-poor experiences or because you’re not even sure you’ve been on what would qualify as a real date, refusing anything casual, hard-balling out of the gate and setting the standard of dry dating, at least for 3-5 dates certainly can’t hurt anything. More times than not, it can only help matters.
Matter of fact, this brings me to another dating trend that’s going to be all-the-way live this year — fast-forwarding. And just what is that? It’s when, after going on a few dates with someone, you “fast-forward” into what you want your relational future to look like, and then you have a serious and realistic conversation with yourself about whether or not he fits the bill. NO, fast-forwarding is not about asking a man if he sees you as his wife after four dates (goodness!). Fast-forwarding is simply…say that you want kids in the next five years and the guy you’re dating is smart, funny, and totally your vibe but he has children already and isn’t really interested in having any more.
Why keep investing on a profound level when he doesn’t want the same things for his future self that you do? Exactly. Now believe you me, as far as dating trends go, there is gonna be some bullshishery out in these streets (like “icing out” where people use COVID as an excuse to ghost folks and “wokefishing” where folks act like they care about the plight of Blackness when they actually…don’t). Yet if 2022 is the year when you’ve declared, “I’m done wasting my time, dammit! I’m gonna date with wisdom and intention,” then there are some responsible trends that have your back.
Don’t be afraid to dry date, hard-ball, or fast-forward. It’s the best way to weed out the nonsense so that you can get closer to what you want — and need. Happy New Year, y’all!
Featured image by Getty Images