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The dynamic definitely adds a layer of complexity to dating, particularly if you're not the settling type.One 24-year-old woman I spoke to summed up Calgary's default dating culture as a fast track to the "relationship escalator" — the assumption that a full-scale relationship is the goal, and one you more-or-less reach after three or four dates with the same person.When you're at a time in your life where you'd rather be building it with a partner, and perhaps naturally assumed that you would be, coming home to a life perfectly suited just for one can feel less like a marker of your successful self-sufficiency than a failure to achieve a fundamental human milestone.It has nothing to do with how much you like yourself, how many friends you have, or how favourable the demographics are, and everything to do with reconciling the life you envisioned for yourself with the one that you have now. Admitting that, however, feels taboo in a culture that prizes independence and preaches a gospel that finding that perfect partner comes down to not wanting or needing one at all.When we talked, Lanceley had been seeing a man for about month with the clear understanding they would not be headed for the relationship escalator, an agreement she credited to very clear communication around their shared goals."We've just been like really, really honest about where we're both at," she said, adding that although the relationship was a casual one, it was grounded in maturity and respect with frequent check-ins.She told me that the tables that favour women start to turn in this city at about age 40.Alexis Peters, a sociology professor at Mount Royal University, put the fulcrum even younger.
As carefree, luxurious and exhilarating as single life can be, it can also be unbearably isolating.
"I do want to be in a long-term relationship eventually, but I don't think I'm going to find this super-amazing person tomorrow," Ashya Lanceley, a 31-year-old server and jewelry designer, told me.