DATING, SOCIALIZING, AND NETWORKING
with people who are different from you, and who think differently than you . . .
Without getting into details at this early stage, the “tolerance, balance, and try to learn from people who are different from you” approach of The Two-Party Party might become a gateway to efforts to make certain types of social interactions more . . . interesting, educational, and rewarding, in ways that cannot be predicted, but which might be guided to good effect.
Suppose, just suppose . . . that some of the largest and most widely used dating services and cellphone apps could be persuaded to create – and then help manage and support – a special option, for dating people from the OTHER party. For example, if a user says, “I am an unmarried female Democrat, age range ___, and I would like to be paired up with an unmarried male Republican, age range ___,” then that filter would be used to screen potential candidates.
Obviously, this option would not appeal to everyone. However, some people might want to try it, to see how it goes. Especially if it means two people could have a ready-made, served-up-almost-like-an-appetizer thing to talk about, from the moment they meet.
Alternately, people who gather at political functions or parties could be given color-coded name tags, to indicate whether they are Democrat or Republican; or, Republicans could be given red-colored drinks (red wine, a Bloody Mary, a red can of beer, etc.), and Democrats could be given white wine, a blue can of beer, etc. Regardless of which indicators are used, the rule would be, `Introduce yourself to, and talk with, at least five members of the OTHER party, before the night is over.’
If developed into a dating system, it would require a written agreement and commitment, from anyone who wishes to join it. It might also require an added fee to help get it going, help weed out non-serious abusers and exploiters, and pay for skilled supervision and management. The following is a first draft of a set of terms for that type of agreement, which BOTH people would have to agree to, in advance. Although this draft was written by an attorney, it clearly will need more thought, care, and attention, as well as some serious test marketing:
1. I WILL WATCH a video coaching session, before my first `two-party date’; and, I will talk with a coach/facilitator who will make sure I understand, not just the rules, but the reasons for the rules, and what is expected of me, and what I can and should expect from the other person;
2. I HEREBY AGREE AND PROMISE that during any such date, I will listen, as much as I talk;
3. I HEREBY AGREE AND PROMISE that if I disagree with something the other person says, I will regard and approach that disagreement as an interesting and potential learning and skill-building challenge, and as an opportunity to practice and improve my skills in discussing things civilly and respectfully with someone who does not, at the start of the discussion, have the same perspective or opinion as me;
4. I HEREBY AGREE AND PROMISE that I will not become loud, angry, or abusive, no matter how strongly I might disagree with what my date says. If I lose my temper and violate that commitment, then I will pay the entire cost of the meal, and any entertainment or other costs that were involved; and, I will either: (i) pay a small fine to the organization, as an apology, and as a commitment to do better the next time, if I’m invited to go on another two-party date; or, (ii) withdraw from that organization’s Two-Party Party service;
5. I HEREBY RECOGNIZE AND AGREE that both people on any date I go on will be encouraged to bring along a two-minute sand timer; and, at any time during a date, either person may:
(i) pick up that timer, and begin toying with it, without activating it, as a warning gesture that the other person has begun to dominate the conversation in ways that are at risk of becoming unpleasant; and/or,
(ii) “activate” that timer, by placing it in open view, on the table, with the sand in the top chamber running downward.
Activating the timer will be a direct warning, by the person who did it, that the other person has been talking too much (at least, during that particular exchange, within a larger conversation), and not listening enough, and seems to be trying to dominate the conversation, and possibly the other person. If and when that action is taken, the person who did NOT put the timer on the table should apologize, for putting the other person in a position of having to take that action; and, after apologizing, he or she can use any amount of time remaining – up to the two minutes provided by the running timer – to finish saying anything he or she wishes to say (such as a summary, explanation, defense, clarification, whatever). When the sand runs out, either person may reverse the timer, and the person who first activated the timer, and then sat quietly and listened while it ran out, gets to speak for (up to) the next two minutes, without no interruptions or distractions from the prior speaker, who is required to just sit patiently, and listen carefully, to the other person’s entire statement, regardless of whether they agree or disagree with it.
6. I HEREBY RECOGNIZE AND AGREE that, during the first ____ (three? five?) dates that I go on, using this dating system, each person on the date can and should activate the voice recorder on his/her cellphone, and then set that phone, face-down, on the table between them. This will enable either person to simply get up and walk away from that date, with a recording of that conversation, if the other person becomes unpleasant or aggressive. An assumption arises that any person who gets up and leaves in the middle of a date should send a copy of that recording, to the dating service, which can then (if it chooses to do so) forward it to the person who became unpleasant or aggressive, with an implied request, `Please listen carefully, to yourself, because this recording is of you. And then, ask yourself WHY the other person got up and left, while you were still talking; and, think about how someone else will most likely respond, if you begin talking to him/her in the same manner and style you were using, in this recording of you.’
7. I HEREBY RECOGNIZE AND AGREE that either person may use his/her cellphone to begin recording audio and/or video of any exchange, at any time, if they feel the other person has become abusive, or seems to be threatening to become abusive. Any such recording can be shared with the organization that arranged the date, and it must be shared, if either person wishes to lodge a complaint against the other person, and try to have that person either: (i) disqualified from subsequent participation in the two-party option, or (ii) required to go to one or more coaching sessions, before being allowed to go on any subsequent two-party dates.
Now, having set forth the above “first draft”, the author would like to add several more comments, to help put them into context:
1. Humans are intensely social animals. We need connections with others to be complete, and/or to feel complete, and fulfilled. However, the advent (and dominance) of video games, cellphones, “social media”, hundreds of different TV channels and streaming services, and other factors, have created some of the most destructive and perplexing barriers that have ever been created (short of, perhaps, The Black Plague, centuries ago) for young people who are trying to learn how to create – and then maintain, and sustain – close and satisfying relationships, especially with “the opposite sex” (an untrue but revealing misnomer). Accordingly, the system proposed above clearly isn’t for everyone; and yet, it might well be able to create, and then fill, a potentially useful and valuable niche.
2. One of the great challenges of conversation is in learning how to talk with (and, how to listen to) people who really do think, and act, differently, from you. Many people are actively looking for ways, and opportunities, to learn, practice, exercise, and use those types of skills (which, for anyone who might not already realize it, are VERY valuable in business and work settings). The approach set forth above might help create and develop not just a single pathway from Point A to Point B, but – perhaps, and hopefully – a number of new and innovative approaches to helping people make connections with people they otherwise would not encounter, or might not regard as potentially interesting partners, not just for starting-point conversations, but possibly for serious and lasting relationships.
3. Everything said above is consistent and aligned with one of the basic principles and lessons set forth in a related website, at www.tetraheed.net. That principle is represented by the phrase, “One-two-sigma-delta”, where:
(1&2) The “one” and “two” refer to two different things, two different people, two different parties, etc. For example, assume a man and woman are dating, and trying to decide whether to make a deeper, higher, stronger commitment to each other. Even if they take that step and form a couple, pair, partnership, etc., the man will continue to be an individual, with his own strengths, resources, and assets, and also with certain weaknesses, needs, gaps, seams, etc. Similarly, the woman also will continue to be an individual, with her own set of resources, and needs. Those two people will become parts one, and two, of a tetrahedral relationship.
(3) The THIRD part of their tetrahedral relationship – the “sigma” part – uses the Greek (or Cyrillic, if you prefer) letter ∑ in the same way it is used in math and science equations, to refer to the SUM of two or more things. If two people are involved, the “sigma” (or summed, combined, etc.) portion of their relationship can be called a couple, pair, team, partnership, company, family, or any similar term which implies “a single unit, but containing more than just one person.” For example, if two people get married, then they will be creating a “family” which did not exist before, and which will have its own new types of needs, and resources. The family will need a place to live; the family will need some kind of income; the family will need to have some kind of transportation; and, the family will need to decide what to make for dinner tonight. The new entity that is formed, if and when two people make a true commitment to each other, can become (and can make both of their lives) better than either person was experiencing before they met, >> IF << both of the two people can and will begin thinking in terms of “we” and “us” as a new and distinct entity, which needs to be fed, nurtured, protected, enjoyed, and allowed to grow, in its own right, without denying in any way that each and both of the two people, in that relationship, continue to be distinct and separate individuals.
(4) The FOURTH part of their tetrahedral relationship – the “delta” part – uses the Greek (or Cyrillic) letter ∆ in the same way that math and science equations use it, to refer to the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN two things. Rather than begrudgingly tolerating (or actively resenting) how someone is different from you, you can and should learn to respect, nurture, fertilize, cultivate, and enjoy the fruits of those differences, because those are what can (and should) enable a relationship to remain active and interesting over a span of years, or even decades. As just one example, the thing that allowed me and my wife to have something new and different to talk about, five nights a week, for more than thirty years, arose from the fact that she went off to an office with other people there, every workday, while I (as a patent attorney who could work via computers and emails) stayed home, worked on patent applications, and was available to help handle the daily chores of raising kids. People who can learn to take those kinds of differences, not just `in stride’, but as opportunities to experience, learn from, and become a part of how varied, diverse, and rich life can be, and who can turn those types of encounters into good memories, assets, and strengths, will be better equipped to find happiness in a wider variety of situations, than people who go through life thinking, “Everyone else should be more like me, and should think and act more like me.” As a brief aside, that kind of selfish, `this is all about me . . . or, at least, it SHOULD be all about me’ thinking pattern usually is classified and regarded by psychologists and therapists as a major symptom of a `narcissist personality disorder’, named after a young man in a Greek fable who fell so deeply in love with his own reflection, and image, that his obsession ended up killing him.
So, a dating service or system which actively pairs up people who will willingly go into a first encounter, knowing that the other person is both:
(i) different from them, and yet,
(ii) willing to accept those differences, as a starting point, and to at least try to learn whatever they can, from the other person,
might be able to help create some conversations and connections that will become more interesting, more educational, more fulfilling, and even better suited for helping people grow and mature into better people, than at least some of the other alternatives that currently are available.
Beyond just the possibility of a dating service, I would also encourage anyone who works with any Two-Party Party group (or affiliate, or whatever), to actively try to pair up Democrats with Republicans, in as many activities as possible. One of my pleasant daydreams is that a Democratic woman goes to some sort of political function put on by the Two-Party Party, and then goes home after the event is over, and tells her husband, “I got paired up with a Republican man, at the event, and it turned out nicely. He wasn’t over-bearing, or condescending, he didn’t try to convert me, and he listened as much as he talked. I actually enjoyed spending time with him.”
Since I’ve been happily married (and not dating) for decades, and since I will be focusing on the Senate race in Missouri during 2022, I do not plan (or want, or hope) to be actively involved in any efforts to create or manage a dating service or other networking effort of this sort. If anyone contacts me, saying they might want to help set up and possibly even help run something like this, I will share it with a group of about 15 nieces, nephews, etc., who function as my advisory council on matters relating to their generation.