Nellie Eden | Debrief Contributor | Friday, 16 June 2017

Half-Hearted: Why The Date Time Continuum Theory Has To Go

Half-Hearted: Why The Date Time Continuum Theory Has To Go

The Debrief: The theory dictates that you must never, ever, make plans with someone further into the future than the amount of time you’ve been dating. After all, it's safer to remain guarded, play it cool than actually put ourselves out there...

I’m going to offer you my most tried-and-tested, most sensible, most earnest and heartfelt piece of romantic advice to date. If a boy tells you he’s ‘not in the right headspace to date anyone at the moment’ but you’ve already had sex, then, simply, he’s a fuckboi. He’s not to be trusted and you should move on. What he means is ‘I don’t want to date you’. Ok, sure, he might be dealing with some really heavy stuff (he might have broken his favourite skateboard or had his bike nicked) so I’ll cut him some slack, but I think we all like to use and abuse the word “timing” when shirking responsibility for having hurt anyone’s feelings. Why? Because you can’t really argue with time, can you?  Because, really, when all’s said and done timing will decide everything for you and there’s no two ways about it. In other words, ‘timimg is everything’.

Really, half of being in a successful, well balanced relationship is luck. Think about it properly. You’ve got to get two, level-headed, open-minded people in the same room at the same time to unofficially agree to a pact which reads something like this:

‘let’s try putting up with each other’s shit for a few years and if it goes well maybe do it permanently, failing that let’s rip each other’s vital organs out and never speak to each other again’. 

Yes, what risky business it is, eh? L-o-v-e. There are no one-size-fits all guides. No road maps towards stable monogamy or notifications alerting you to your partner’s waning interest in you. You just have to sort of blindly feel it out with one another and hope for the best. But that’s why we’re all so addicted to the spontaneity and unpredictability of loving another person. Because, only time will tell how it works out. 

It’s not for everyone, this ‘leave it to the fates’ attitude. For anyone who doesn’t feel like living in their own IRL telenovela series, there are the manufactured rules of romance which most of us, rather unwittingly adhere to. We’re very good at making up these rules that we presume will help us manage ethereal, intangible variables like, death and time (yay). We tell ourselves that shagging on the first date never leads to a relationship and that telling someone you love them must come further down the line than the second date- it must be grandiose and poignant and you have to have it whispered right back at you immediately for it to be valid. You don’t meet someone’s parents until a minimum of three months have passed and it’s best not to go away together until you’re used to each other’s snoring. Ok, I made some of those up, but you know what I mean… 

If you identify with the above, might your anally retentive behaviour be satisfied by the very scientific new theorem called the date-time continuum, specifically created for us Millennials? In essence, it dictates that you must never, ever, make plans with someone further into the future than the amount of time you’ve been dating. If you’ve been seeing Steve for three days, then inviting him to that Metallica gig next Friday violates the date-time continuum. Woah. This is groundbreaking, I know.

Veer off from the date-time continuum and you might as well open your future-relationship’s car door and silently flop out onto the curb while your potential partner’s not looking and scuttle into some nearby bushes- because you’ve fucked it mate. 

Of course that kind of mistrust is totally ingrained in us millennials. We’re unable to maintain interest full the full four seconds of an Instagram story, let alone a conversation with a near stranger. We treat every potential love interest with a large dollop of cynicism because we’re all looking over each other’s shoulders for someone with a better laugh or more Instagram followers or better trainers. No really, I know few people in their 20s who simply meet someone and think ‘yeah that’s it’. 

This is the age of Plenty of Fish 2.0. Appearing vulnerable, or like anyone who has anything close to a heart is just not an option. Looking ‘cool’ is, always, the priority. Asking Tony to meet your mum after two weeks of casual boning isn’t ‘cool’ according to the date-time continuum. I actually happen to think that that would be a ballsy af move and I’d probably encourage one of my friends (sorry guys) to behave that passionately and irrationally if they felt like Tony was an absolute babe who deserved to meet their mother. 

That being said I totally understand why we all keep our cards close to our chest. We live in unpredictable times, so laying your soul bare via a dating app or on a date at Carluccio’s feels like a step too far when you’re already dealing with uncertainty day-to-day, inviting someone in to judge your worth jus doesn’t seem worth it. I think a lot of us are looking for something steadfast- a patch of dry land on which to stand while the water rises around us- and that makes very human sense to me. A relationship contributes to a sense of stability and consistency. Now more than ever, I can see how for someone in their twenties (even if we’re made out to be eternal bed-hoppers) might find that very attractive.

Ok, so my friends are more rushing away from wedding aisles than curating Pinterests around them, but we are living in a strange time and I think it’s impacting our romantic cultures. On the one hand, social media gives you the impression that guides like the date-time continuum are necessary because everyone’s on the move and looking for something better- so you’d best remain guarded, play it cool and NOT violate the date-time continuum. This feeds into a more transient way of loving people. We all feel more disposable, more vulnerable and more alone, even if we look like we’re having a jolly good time being single on social media or rubbing suncream into our dull boyfriend’s mole-y back on holliday. More than lying to each other, I think we’ve gotten really good at lying to ourselves. Leaving your love life in the hand’s of the universe isn’t really an option anymore. So we invent rules and dispense clichéd advice, cling closely to the one’s near us and live with a low hum level of perennial guilt and anxiety. Ok, ok that’s hyperbole but you get my point? I think social media deeply contributes to a growing collective sense of self-awareness and shame and embarrassment and makes us less likely to act spontaneously and act freely for fear of judgement.

It’s not all bad news though, because, in the end, the universe will win out. No matter how many listicles you read, or parties you miss or hot selfies you post, there’s a large part of your life that will just be dictated by…’timimg’. So, probably bin-off the date-time continuum theory, stop worrying about whether he’s seen you’ve been viewing his Instagram stories and ask Steve if he’s free in three week’s time to go and see Metallica. Fuck it.  Yolo, etc.

 Liked this? You might also be interested in: 

On The Benefits Of 'Boyfriendships' AKA Friends With Benefits 

When It Comes To Dating When Did We All Start Being So Horrible To Each Other?

Millennials Are All Terrified Of Being Alone, No Wonder We're All Zombeing Each Other 

Tags: Dating Confusion