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Parallel Dating: A phenomenon!

06 May 2012, 08:40

Having recently downgraded my relationship status to "single" again (or is that an upgrade?), I was enticed into joining an on-line singles network that I saw advertised on Facebook.
As with all "free" dating sites, they allow you to set up a profile for free, uploading photographs and setting your personal preferences and the like, but when you receive some attention on your profile and want to make contact with the other party, you are taken to a card-payment screen, and have to pay your subscription fee to enable the messaging functionality. Okay, not going to complain about the ethics behind this part right now.
But what I did find extremely interesting was to analyse the behavior of the other "lonely hearts" that entertain themselves seemingly rather on the dating site than anywhere else. Reading the diary entries of disappointed women that have been conned by married men, or abused by men that seemingly have no conscience, became a long, boring task. But it got me thinking on the reason for that behavior... and I have developed an analogy that I posted in my own on-site diary, called "Dating in the Shopping Trolley". This diary entry drew a lot of comment from female users, and prompted a second article, and a third, at which point I was receiving enough positive comment that I decided to post this article on the subject.
My theory is that the new form of dating will change the way we interact with members of the opposite sex for generations to come. I have called it "Parallel Dating".
Parallel dating is best compared with the "old" form of dating (or "Serial Dating"), where you would meet somebody somewhere, invite them out, date a few times, and decide where the relationship was going. If the outcome was negative you would find another person, invite them out.... and go through the same procedure ad nauseum, until you found the right one. The term I have used ("Serial Dating") means that you would move from one to the other once the previous relationship has ended.
In Parallel Dating, people send multiple signals to different people, chat with the interested parties (simultaneously), meet them for coffee or drinks (often more than one in a day), and then compile a "table" of good and bad points applicable to each "candidate". A "decent" dater will choose one and discard the rest (as harsh as it sounds), focusing on the new relationship. A typical parallel dater will, however, play two or more "candidates" simultaneously until caught out, where the cycle begins again.
Think of the situation where a man walks into the bar full of beautiful women, and winks at ten of them, drawing a smile from each one. He then buys each a drink and chats them all up one after the other, asking each for a date over the next few days. Obviously this won't easily happen because each lady would want to be the "only one" that the man is dating, and when she sees the attention from the other ten ladies she will exit the battle. In parallel dating he easily gets away with it.
So where does this put single people in the next 10 years? Well I would predict a slide in values, bearing in mind that women are also using the very same formula. Some of the "candidates" are AAA grade (soulmate material) and others are CCC grade (casual sex material). I predict that more and more will abuse the CCC grade whilst looking for the AAA grade, who him/herself will learn to do the very same thing! 
The responsible way to handle the Parallel Dating phenomenon would be to ensure that the "candidates" realise they are but candidates, giving them the option to exit the "race", and setting a cut-off date for yourself to choose ONE. That one should then get the focus, as in Serial Dating. But would this work???

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