B: I, and undoubtedly you as well, have heard endless examples of worldly philosophies. Another one that comes to mind is along these same lines of confidence – “beating around the bush.” Some people feel it’s an insult to be talked to in this way and just want it all right out front. They think it shows a lack of confidence, I imagine, in the other person, or perhaps even lack of trust. In any case, the idea is that the person who is “beating around the bush” is at fault, not they themselves, and that such a practice could never be appropriate. I can see why it may be annoying to be talked to in this way, but is it really true that it could never be appropriate to speak in this way? Or is this just another philosophy of men?
There are also certain “tactics” in courtship, which differ depending on the society’s traditions – that is, certain things are expected of the men and certain other things are expected of the women. Some are of the persuasion that men must initiate everything, including the courtship itself, physical intimacy, marriage proposal, etc. Traditions have evolved to the point where certain actions mean certain things at certain times of the relationship – but is it necessarily true that everybody agrees perfectly on the interpretations of all these things? Should they anyway? What if somebody feels uncomfortable with pursuing a certain practice that society has apparently decreed for these situations – perhaps because he thinks it’s just a “philosophy of men” – yet still wants a relationship to mature? Must he, and thus all of us, conform to the long-established unwritten traditions nonetheless?
A: Buddy, if you don’t feel comfortable doing something, then why don’t you just be up front and honest about it?
B: I’m all for that, actually. The problem comes in communication, unfortunately – there seems to be too much of the whole “if a guy/girl does this or that, it means such-and-such” for my taste. No wonder so many call it a “game.” Why must anyone be subject to playing this game if they would rather be open about things, so’s to avoid all the heartwrenching guessing that goes on during relationships? What’s so wrong with honesty and clarity? And why must there be assumptions made about what certain behaviors mean?
A: I think some people may be afraid of being too honest too early.
B: That may be – and to each his own, as far as dating is concerned. The only objection I have to it is the idea – often assumed by one or the other party – that each person must be subject to those aforementioned unwritten traditions, which as far as I can see, are really just traditions, or philosophies, of men. If a person wants to play the game, let him play. But if a person would like to be involved in a relationship, and yet rather not play the game, by simply being open about things instead of sending a bunch of vague signals subject to misinterpretation – can’t we all just understand that none of us have to play the game, and there is a possibility that certain people approach things in a different way?
A: What would you have people do?
B: Simple: just don’t assume that a certain action, or lack thereof, has any particular meaning. It probably means something different for each person anyway. If there is confusion about intent, go ahead and open up communication lines so that each party understands clearly. But if you’re of the persuasion of making assumptions and stab-in-the-dark guesses about what the other person means, be my guest. It would just be nice if nobody would feel obligated to follow that same pattern, as it seems to me that many do.
B: I agree with that, but my question is, must this be the common ground? It seems to me that whatever “common ground” is found may depend on the couple themselves, not necessarily on some societal standard.