Vocabulary for Dating

W00t earlier today my second published story went live over at the Bold Italic! http://www.thebolditalic.com/ChinHuaLu/stories/2889-the-top-10-typical-dating-profiles

Bold Italic Chin Lu Top 10 Dating Profiles

I am very surprised that so far no one has left a “Who does this chick think she is for writing this? She’s only 25!” sort of comment, but maybe that will come later. I mean, it’s true- There are a lot I haven’t experienced yet and my dating history definitely does not make me seem like an expert in the field, but how else am I supposed to learn? Not through avoiding trying or never discussing it with others.

And since we’re on the topic of romance…Recently I’ve come to the realization that my friends and I often use words carelessly when talking about dates.

Let me explain myself first: When I was a mass communications major, we learned about semiotics and their importance. For instance, the word “Dog” signals to you the common domesticated four-legged mammal, but we had to learn that. The word “Dog” is a signifier and such animal is the signified. (Read more about signs here if you’re curious) When you were a kid, you had to receive instructions and cues in order to understand that while a Chihuahua looks and sounds very different from an Alaskan Husky, they still both count as dogs. And this is another common example: the Eskimos have multiple words for different kinds of snow and ice because cold weather is so prevalent in their every day life.

The kind of vocabulary you possess from a language influences the way you think about things. It’s difficult or sometimes even impossible to have meaningful thoughts about something if you are unable to put words to it, even just in your mind.

Anyway, I’ve noticed lately that I need to clarify more when I talk about dating because if I’m able to get my definitions and concepts straight, then I can think about it more clearly.

There are two major phrases that leaped out at me.

When I say “He was nice,” what exactly do I mean? Is it that he’s a morally good person, as in he’ll voluntarily help an old lady carry a heavy bag up the stairs when the BART station’s escalator breaks down? (Oh I’m looking at you, 16th St. Mission!) Or do I want to let my friends know that he was gentlemanly to me? Or even a third possible meaning is good compatibility or chemistry. These are all very different things. Sure, they may overlap sometimes but other times they’re completely separate from one another.

Without specifying, it’s easy to confuse what I’m trying to communicate because various scenarios can exist: Someone can certainly treat you nicely for a short while but actually be a horrible person inside. A good guy might be too nervous to notice that you are shivering from an outdoor picnic, so you come home complaining of a cold. You might think someone is treating you extra special when really, they’re just very polite and considerate individuals.

Another big one is when people say “I think he likes me” or “I like you.” With that brief statement, there is still a wide variety of what could be happening. That’s great that someone is interested in you, but do you know what they are interested in you for?  Is it something short-lived or long-term? Do they like you a lot and want to date you seriously, or do they just like you enough (#20 on this list!) to pay for dinner but don’t intend to call ever again? Yes, it takes time to know these things but one should keep track correctly and try to see things for what they really are. Or I suppose you can just ask directly!

I hope this is not making you anxious. I just think that a lot of misunderstanding and hurt feelings come from shorthand communication, and what seems obvious to one side of a conversation may be completely muddled for the other, even if the person you’re talking to is yourself.

Happy dating,



2 responses

    • Hi Andrea, I really like your illustrations too! I have no idea how Bold Italic matches up designers with writers, and they never tell me who’s doing my story beforehand- I just get pleasantly surprised when I see it published. :) Thank you for leaving a comment.

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