Difference between dating, monogamy

One of the first things I say to a guy on a first date is “I’m not looking for a boyfriend, just someone to have fun with.”

Why do I say this? Well, firstly because it’s true. I’m not looking for anything serious. Having recently gone through a breakup after spending nearly three years with someone, I know I can’t make that kind of commitment again anytime soon. But it’s more than that.

I realized that during those three years, I forgot the difference between dating and monogamy. Suddenly single again, something occurred to me: I had been monogamous for so long that it had become synonymous with dating. Watching people my age and even younger (I’m only 21) get married and have babies, I’m beginning to see it as a common misconception.

It’s not surprising that we have this misconception -we’ve been hearing about the “happy ending” since our parents were reading us to sleep as children. However, being that we are a generation that watched our parents’ marriages fall apart, you’d think we would be a little more cautious when it comes to dating.

Urbandictionary.com has 26 definitions of dating. They range from “when you’re boyfriend/girlfriend” to “when two people go somewhere on a romantic visit” to “the act of entering into the domain of hell where the lost and the lonely go to get laid.”

Obviously, there is no one way to define dating. Contrary to popular belief, a date (or three or 10) does not imply monogamy. And it shouldn’t have to. When two people go on a date (or three or 10), they need to discuss what their intentions are. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting a relationship, just as there is nothing wrong with wanting one. However, it would be unfair to continue to see someone without revealing your intentions-and perhaps dangerous to go into it not knowing the other person’s.

Another misconception that needs addressing-not every girl is dreaming of her perfect man and perfect wedding followed by perfect children and a perfect family life (ick!). Frankly, I feel too young to even consider it. Why not enjoy my twenties while they last?

No matter what you’re looking for, just remember that cute guy (or girl) sitting across the table from you at Sweet Magnolia may or may not be looking for the same thing. The only way to know (and to prevent unnecessary heartbreak), is to state your intentions from the beginning. Uncomfortable or not, it’s a conversation every dater should have. Lastly, don’t change your needs for anyone else, no matter how much you think you like him (or her).

To contact Malisa, follow her on Twitter at @MSM_FlorAla.