"The less-committed partner can hide out in the relationship for a long time," says Scott Stanley, Ph.D., codirector of the Center for Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver."I felt this gripping fear that I was going to be an old lady before I found anyone," she says. "It was my first date outside a relationship—ever," Aviva says.So after two weeks of crying, she forced herself onto a dating site, telling herself there were plenty of great guys out there. "I didn't know how to act." The two had great chemistry over dinner, but at the end of the night, "he pecked me on the lips," she recalls. Taking her cues from Hollywood chick flicks, "I thought if the guy likes you, he gives you this passionate kiss," she says.We'd begun dating sophomore year of college, after a summer of exchanging letters stuffed with dried rose petals.He was my first long-term boyfriend, the first guy I slept with, and we lived together after college in pseudo-married bliss, refinishing furniture and inventing names for our future children. So I left, blithely unconcerned about my romantic future.
But dating for the first time turned me into an ignorant tourist in a foreign country where I didn't know the local customs. Now couples are more likely to move in together without agreeing on their life goals first.
Clueless to the secret signals of the dating world, Seals had been blinking "green" all night: She latched on to the man early and engaged in intimate chitchat, ignoring everyone else. "The more you do it, the better you get." Finkel suggests women ask friends for help—yet that can bring pitfalls, too.
Naturally friendly, she laughed, joked, and smiled freely. While Moster's friends love hearing about her dating pursuits, "They get frustrated when I cry about the same problem again and again," she says.
He smiled at me in the candlelight, and my stomach flipped. But when he leaned in to kiss me, I blurted, "I just broke up with my boyfriend and I'm kind of vulnerable." Uh, talk about TMI. I sat beside him in class, sent flirty texts, and tried to ferret out his weekend plans. Two weeks after our initial hookup, I talked him into coming over. I'd never felt more humiliated, but that bop summed up the experience of being single for the first time as an adult, at 28.
Fresh from an eight-year relationship, I was longing for the early-20s experience—wild nights and random hookups—I'd missed spending quiet weekends at home with my then-boyfriend.
After six years of sleepovers, he still wouldn't commit to marriage.