With the emancipated woman and the long-gone presence of chaperones, these days there are few dating rules. We post our profiles on internet dating sites, blurt too much to an attractive stranger, and find ourselves regretting jumping into a relationship (or bed); all which indicate a rapid disclosing of self to a potential romantic “Other.”
These days, it is common for couples to move in together; often at the 6 (do I hear 3?) months stage. With all that tricky falling-in-love dopamine chemistry occurring, along with projections and the hope for the white knight (or fairest princess), we can all learn a lesson in love from times past.
The Norse folk tale of Prince Lindworm tells how he devoured his brides on each of their wedding nights; him seeing them only as flesh to be consumed for the night. His next bride, wisely seeking counsel, was advised to wear ten petticoats on the wedding night. Her task – every time the Prince asked her to remove a petticoat, she was to ask him to slough one of his skins (for he was worm-like after all).
And so, this exchange went on until Lindworm’s skins were lying on the floor, each of them covered with a slip. In the end, there was nothing left of Lindworm but a huge thick mass, most horrible to see. And yet, through a series of events, he arose as a handsome prince.
The ritual that the successful princess undertakes is symbolic of traditional courtship; stripping down the layers of ego, roles, rules and games – all which impede intimacy. The princess does not run, she does not fight, and, she does not submit. She asks for what she wants and then decides, if and when, she will choose to be in union with Other.
Returning to current times, perhaps we can reframe “Just be friends” as self-chaperoning. If women want to ask men out, that is fine too. Live out the emancipation and see what unfolds for both people. Men who think that they’ve ‘got it made’ if a woman asks them out, may or may not be correct. The same applies to men asking women out.
Mindful and conscious dating means ‘dis-clothing’ slowly. Expect the best – it is a dance of working off our skins and petticoats. Whether male or female, we want to be cherished for who we are, not devoured (bedded) because we simply are Other (e.g., have the body parts, the bank account or we “look good on paper”).
Whether one calls it dating, courting or hanging out, there needs to be a meeting of the minds before there is any possibility of a meeting of the flesh. Conscious dating says, “You can possibly have me when you get to know me.” And then, both parties can decide if each would like to pursue the relationship further.