Those were the dates

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Six reasons why you need to change your outlook of dating

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press. February 3, 2016

It’s been years since I’ve dated. If you dropped me back into the dating scene, I wouldn’t turn cool, confident, and desirable; I would become feral, become the creepy guy at the club, or become a loner who waits around until one of my other single friends calls me up to hang out. That’s because the term “dating” is scary.

I don’t know how to date. I never did. I never had an online dating profile or anything like that. I don’t believe dating, in the traditional dinner and a movie sense, is the way to meet people. At least, it shouldn’t be the origin of a relationship. Dating is like gambling. You are betting on a person, on a night, or on an event to turn out in your favour—which is selfish. Dating can be any activity, but dating itself should be invisible. It shouldn’t be quantified (ex. first date, second date, etc.).

Because of conventional thinking, dating garnered this negative connotation and it plants a bad seed in our minds, psyching us out. In this article, I’ll look at six different ways to look at dating that will give you a more positive outlook on your prospective love.

1) A relationship is a friendship, so start with a friendship. If you are having trouble even getting your friends to hang out with you, you need to reevaluate. There is nothing wrong with hanging out with a friend. Having someone loyal—even if they have put you in the friend zone—helps people understand you. Don’t look for a spouse, look for a friend.

2) New experiences offer new opportunities. Do what you want to do and invite people who want to join you. Don’t make plans around people; make plans for you. If someone wants to join you, they are more than welcome, but regardless, you will have an experience. If you go alone, you might even meet someone along the way.

3) Learn something and work together. Take a class or invest yourself in a project. A relationship is all about learning and collaborating together. By participating in an educational experience with someone, you can determine whether you can function together.

4) Find an anchor. Don’t be persistent; be steady. Romantic comedies have ruined many people’s understanding of romance. The never-say-die attitude is poison in a sprouting relationship. Romance, after all, is not something you commit 100 per cent of your life to. You have to steady your own ship before other people will hop on. Get an education. Get a job. Move out of your parents’. Focus on more than romance. If you are unrelenting with finding dates, you are merely pushing people onto your sinking vessel.

5) Be vulnerable. So often dating can seem like a job interview where we try to look our best. It’s not a job interview. You won’t lose anything for being genuine. Obviously, don’t end up weeping over your ex, but open up your world and be open-minded when your date does the same.

6) Make plans. Life is the moments you spend making plans. You can tell if you’ve found the one if the two of you are able to follow through with the plans you’ve made. Mortgage, marriage, vacations, or mundane things like a trip to the supermarket—these are the plans you’ll make while growing old together. A date is really just a plan that you kept, and it’s not so scary.

As POF Eliminates Intimate Encounters, Ashley Madison Makes Them Easier Than Ever

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“Two hundred years ago someone uniquely stepped up and said ‘Hey, we shouldn’t put people in prison or put scarlet letters on someone that is being unfaithful,’ and that person would have seemed like a radical,” says Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman, who hails from Toronto. “But in the end that is where the rest of society went to. That is what innovation is all about.”

After 19 million members in 26 countries, Ashley Madison is now the world’s largest extramarital dating website; in other words, a website for married people seeking additional affairs. While other online dating companies like Plenty of Fish and Match.com focus more on building relationships, Ashley Madison steers in the opposite direction by connecting people who want to hook-up in a discreet fashion.

Since the launch in 2001, Ashley Madison has received criticism and accusation for profiting off of ruined marriages and broken families. But affairs have been around way before the website’s existence. While some might frown at the prospect of adultery, Biderman believes he is creating a community for a large group of people who are in dire need for his service.

“Accountability lies in human decisions making,” Biderman told Techvibes. “We sometimes want to point fingers, but I can’t convince anyone to have an affair; not one on one, not on a TV commercial, and not if they read this article. People have affairs because their lives are complicated.”

Unlike other dating websites, Ashley Madison—which was just ranked 29th in the Profit 500—offers a secure platform for users. By separating their infidelity from social settings such as bars, Facebook and workplace, people can quietly go about their business without the constant fear of being discovered.

“The perfect affair means meeting someone and not getting caught,” explains Biderman, who was nominated for the 2013 Ernest and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. “I’m trying my best to give you the technologies to do so. When you sign up I’ll put your photo under lock and key. I have a panic button. I have discreet billing. And ultimately when you are finished with Ashley Madison, I don’t just delete your profile like other social networks do. I’ll go back and take back every message you have ever sent to anyone historically and yank them off the site.”

Canadian dating website Plenty of Fish recently eliminated their Intimate Encounters feature. POF founder Markus Frind explained the reasoning behind it as such: “Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”

Meanwhile, Ashley Madison is making intimate encounters easier than ever with the launch of BlackBook, a new app for iOS and Android that allows members to call each other using disposable phone numbers in a secure manner to keep their affairs secret. And although Ashley Madison may seem like the dark side of Internet dating, Biderman assures the public that it is in fact a far more honest and robust platform than the alternatives.

Online dating is still in its infancy and has a lot of stigma to overcome. But Ashley Madison is taking a different route to earn respect. A full-time romance and a short-term intimacy is of equal value and that is exclaimed in Ashley Madison’s slogan, “Life’s short, have an affair.”

Dating is not just about holding hands and walking in the park, nor should it be chatting about sex with a mysterious avatar. People are as complicated as their relationships and Ashley Madison and Avid Life Media have created platforms for people of all types to make life’s engagements a little bit easier.