The Dark Side of the Modern Dating World
If you have even one single friend, you have probably heard some of the many trials and tribulations of the current dating world. Maybe you have even experienced them yourself. Ghosting, misaligned intentions, half-assed (if any) responses, tasteless DMs. Singles more than ever are feeling jaded, disillusioned, and fatigued with the search for an adequate partner or companion.
While online dating apps have stolen the show in the past 10 years as the primary dating platform, current trends and changes in today’s dating approach have created more resentment towards the apps than ever. How many hours are singles spending their time swiping left or right on a dating app? 10 hours per week. Not to mention, basing each and every swipe on a 5 second appraisal of someone’s worth based on a few pictures and some curated question responses. Is this truly a fair way to assess for attraction or compatibility? As public interaction with the apps has changed over time, they have become an option-diluted profile database where singles can find solidarity in their commitment wounds. Joking! (Well, kind of). Maybe it is not as simple as that, but let’s be honest. For many right now, the apps are being used as a safe space for validation, recognition, and confirmation of desirability. And if not that, a place to find a quick and easy fix for physical intimacy. While there is absolutely no shame in any of that, many would still agree the entire app experience has become downright overwhelming and over stimulating. Poor outcomes have now become the norm and are even expected. While many might have found success through these avenues before, they are slowly starting to lose their integrity and purpose.
Beyond that, meeting potential partners in-person or through other means has become just as difficult for these very same reasons. In many ways, the mindset and behavior trends that present themselves within the apps have transgressed themselves into in-person dating. For one, we now have the luxury of being able to hide behind informality. A positive advantage to modern dating is that the options of texting, face-timing, and social media provide us with more ways to stay connected to those we are interested in. We can share our stream of consciousness as texts, send over pictures of our present moment, swap our favorite memes and funny media, amongst much more. Despite these perks, spending 50% or more of our dating experience hiding behind a phone can allow for a lack of accountability, responsibility, and authenticity.
Whether you have already met the potential suitor in question, or may meet them eventually, boiling down the relationship to a few memes and text threads allows for limited authentic interpersonal connection. Communicating consistently in this way can create a notion that the other person on the receiving end is not a person at all, but merely the idea of one: a prospect, an option, a face with a name, even an object.
Whether we want to admit it, we are beginning to treat others through this lens of informality. How often are people projecting their made up ideas of someone onto the true essence of the person they are trying to get to now? Perhaps we are comparing them to the idea we constructed in our heads and drawing unfair comparisons. Or, perhaps the in-person experience with them has brought forth our own commitment and vulnerability issues, not to mention anxiety. Either way, it seems that modern daters are quicker to drop someone after just a date or two. Not only is there more focus on the “icks” and “yucks” a person may present, first dates without context are now entered with tunnel vision for red flags and turn offs. When a person is boiled down to just what they can offer you in experience or relationship, there is little room for deeper connection or genuine understanding.
Daters are also changing in the way they show up (or don’t) to their initial dating experiences. Given that the illustrated dynamic above may be true, you may encounter a “Dating Catch 22”. Imagine being on a first date. If you’re not the one making the immediate evaluation of the person in front of you, you’re the one worried about being evaluated. Suddenly, before you know it, this date has become an interrogation and you are not even sure if you’re the interrogator or the interrogated. Maybe you’re both. Either way, you’re unable to relax or be yourself, let alone remain present enough to focus on just having a good time. Our theory is that many people are self-sabotaging their ability to go into dating with an open mind and open heart. Are we truly having “first dates”? Or are we actually having “first interviews”?
Amidst all this, there are beacons of hope to be seen. Many of the opportunities and advantages that the tools of modern dating give us can serve to be extremely valuable when used in honest and virtuous ways. In many cases, they allow us to connect and communicate with more ease and access than ever before. New approaches to dating, matchmaking, and seeking companionship are being utilized and explored. The possibilities for connection are endless, but we will need to keep a sense of hope and openness as we venture out on our quests for love. Better awareness, increased attention, and more deliberate intention can be the catalysts for healthier changes in our ever-changing dating world.