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Local Dating Customs

Mr. Sensitive Comments:

California vs. American MidWest: Different Meanings

California's "Opt-In Exclusivity"

I grew up in California. There was never an assumption of exclusivity when you dated someone. Most people dated multiple people.

At some point, if you were feeling serious about the person that you were dating, you would raise the issue, "Should we keep dating other people?" If both people agreed to stop dating others, it would be called: going steady, serious, committed, engaged, or just crazy.

We didn't consider any of this a California thing, it was just the way that people dated.

Trouble in the American MidWest

After college I moved to the midwest (a move that few Californians make, for some reason). I got into a lot of trouble that first year.

Three Dates = Practically Married

Reader Irritated I disagree because it's absurd to stereotype people in the midwest as more commitment-oriented than others.

I invited a woman I had just met to dinner, and then discovered that we were practically married in her mind. At first I thought that she was strange. But I came to realize that she was the norm in the midwest. In the midwest if you went out with someone 3 times you had what they called: "a relationship." I had never heard that term in California. After 3 dates, it was just assumed that you were not dating anyone else.

The Third Date

I escaped the midwest as quickly as I could and fled back to California. After graduate school I moved back to the midwest, but a big city this time. Shortly after moving I was out to dinner with some locals and they asked if I was meeting any women. I told them that I had gone on a blind date with someone, and had been out with them a couple of times. One of the locals warned, "Be careful, if you go out with someone here 3 times, you are as good as married."

She was right. I married this blind date less than a year later.


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