Dating is a part of [the] human mating process whereby two people meet socially for companionship, beyond the level of friendship, or with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or marriage.
Sounds pretty alienating when you strip it down to biology, doesn't it? Thankfully, once you find yourself a partner, that shit will finally end and you can get on with your life.
Which is what most people think until they realize that dating will never end.
Surprise, motherfucker! Not for one week will you ever be free from the clutches of dating, not for a single day will the prospect of it stop looming over you like a carrion bird waiting to pick the last remnant of tired sex appeal from your socially awkward bones. Not if you want to keep on having a relationship. See, dating isn't a Kleenex that you can just discard after you've used it to clean the spill that's threatening to stain your potential relationship. It's a ShamWow that you must use over and over again, because you can bet your butt that those spills will keep on coming.
Yes, I just compared romantic relationships to a questionable infomercial product, and yes, you're welcome.
Look, this is the future. The candlelit-dinners-and-roses dates of yesteryear are virtually nonexistent and were, in fact, always pretty arbitrary. Absolutely anything can count as a date as long as the intent's there for both parties: an online discussion, a trip to the mall, a simple walk, an elaborately choreographed joint battle against Ghror the Conqueror and his tusked minions. A date is nothing more or less than an excuse to spend time with a special someone, and if you ever stop doing that, chances are said someone won't be there for all that long. Think of your own past breakups, or if you don't have any, all the couples you know who have split up. I'm betting that no matter what the ultimate breakup reason was, at some point, they stopped doing those little things together, forgot to enjoy each others' company.
In other words, they stopped dating.
At some point, they got so complacent with each other that they forgot (or, worse, never realized) that a conversation over a glass of O.J. when the kids are finally asleep or watching Netflix and eating takeout Chinese on the couch they bought together are just as important as a dinner in a fancy restaurant. Because that's all dating ultimately is: two people who are interested in each other (or at least are both aware that this is a distinct possibility) hanging out and seeing where it takes them. That's not the kind of thing you stop at any point of a relationship. And if you ever do, don't go saying that life fucked you in the soul when you inevitably find yourself alone again. In that case, the monster was you all along.
Pauli Poisuo is a Cracked columnist and freelance editor. Here he is on Facebook and Twitter.
For more from Pauli, check out 4 Important Things Self-Help Books Are Too Nice to Tell You. And then check out 21 Things We Secretly Suspect about the Opposite Sex.