How Dating is Disintegrating

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For several years now, I feel that both via observation through the lens of friends and family, as well as from what I’ve gleaned from varying articles on the internet, plus coupled with my own limited experiences, that dating has taken a swift downturn and even disintegrated in ways.

There are several pieces of the puzzle which I believe contribute to the larger picture of what has grown to be a cheapening in the world of dating. A lessening of interest in investment, a stronger sense of disconnection, and a more blase attitude towards getting to know someone.

Here are a handful of the ways in which I feel these attitude are made evident:

— We have become removed, disengaged, and anticlimactic in our method of initially connecting with and then potentially getting to know someone. Much of this is now done over the mode of screen, via the vein of dating apps, as well as through the use of messaging and texting.

Bo-ring! Don’t get me wrong, the purpose of a dating app (which is to connect us with potential matches, with whose paths we might not otherwise cross) does entail an initial connection be made online and via the method of over-the-screen messaging. However, many people go on to misuse this to staggering degrees. Continuing to volley texts and messages for weeks and weeks, instead of actually meeting the human behind the screen!

The danger and downside to this? First, as mentioned, it’s just majorly anticlimactic. A significant part of the fun of dating is the first date flutters, the what-will-we-talk-about nerves, the I-wonder-how-this-will-go unknown. The dressing up and beforehand prep.

Then, the in-person deciphering and observation. Being able to see the person’s face, watch their body language and facial expressions, as well as listening to what they say and how they act in person, all of this offering clues as to what this person might be like- of which there is a goldmine for considering.

We miss out on all of this with the weeks and weeks long texting exchanges that have become commonplace.

Also, one runs the risk of just wasting lots of time. It’s easy to seem charming and witty behind the barrier of a screen. One can take as much time as needed to craft the “perfect” response. Almost anyone can seem charismatic via messaging.

You cannot possibly know someone through the vein of text. You know what image they are choosing to show and craft for you. That is it. A real connection is not one created solely over the avenue of a screen. You need in-person experiences, and lots of them, to be building an actual relationship. Until then, it’s just smoke and mirrors.

To know if you have chemistry? If the two of you click? As well as, to truly get a read on someones character and mannerisms? You need to meet them in person.

The only point of a dating app is to make that initial connection, but then very shortly thereafter? Meet them in person to see if the chemistry is there. (Within say, no longer than a week out from making that initial online connection).

Otherwise? You are spinning your wheels, as well as ruining half the build-up and fun (which requires two people, face to face, getting to know one another).

— A lack of both agency, as well as initiative, has become commonplace in the dating realm nowadays (if you can even call it that). Men tending to ask a woman out, but then dropping the ball on actually planning a date. Often times, simply floating a “well, what do you want to do?” And then leaving it at that. All on the woman to put together a plan.

Further, no one wants to commit, label, overtly ask and/or clarify feelings for one another nowadays. Instead, it’s cool to be aloof, detached, unemotional, not too “into” someone, to maintain having “other options” or claim to be “just looking for something casual.” This is apparently how one signals strength, confidence, and coolness. Not through actually showing vulnerability, feelings, nor via any outward displays of liking of someone.

What is interesting though is that this is, of course, exactly how to truly connect with a person. In order to build an authentic relationship and draw closer to someone, one must be vulnerable, reveal their heart, and let their guard down.

It’s as though people think that by saying they do “not want nor need” anything, that they don’t expect anything out of a relationship nor have any standards of treatment, this will make them more appealing. That by letting a person entirely off the hook for anything, they will suddenly fall in love with and like us more.

Essentially, this is degrading oneself and giving up on what one wants, in the hopes it will land them something, anything. It’s sacrificing and dismissing yourself for another. A desperate method of pushing one’s own wants and needs to the side, in the hope it will garner them something.

How is that an authentic way to start a relationship? Or, a method by which to truly attract someone with similar values?

What’s fascinating about this is that we are actually flat out wrong in this assumption. Turns out research shows that when we allow someone to give to us, aka invest in us, the giver then feels more committed to the relationship thereafter.

This, of course, does not mean one should take advantage of others and become a perpetual taker. On the contrary, when people give, they tend to feel happier. As well as, people who perpetually take and use others end up losing big over the long-run.

But. The takeaway here is that when we allow a person to invest in us, when we ask for what we want, when we do not accept less, this actually brings about more respect from the other, towards us. It results in their feeling more invested in us, not less. Let someone you love invest in you. While also doing the same for them.

— A decreasing of investment in dates, as well as in getting to know someone, seems to be on the rise. A recent Vogue article touches on this topic, on how apps like Tinder are likely a piece of the puzzle contributing to a decrease in investment in others and the getting to know people via dating.

To clarify first: I don’t agree with the age old mindset that “men are ever obligated to pay.” Why does it always fall on the man? To a degree, this seems an unfair expectation and weight. Especially as this can get rather pricey, as the point of dating is, after all, to get to know more than one person for a short while and see with whom you most fit/connect. Thus, if a man must foot the bill for all these dates, well, that is a lot of expectation and assumption.

With that said, I think it’s classy and a show of interest, as well as a sweet gesture for a man to treat a woman toward whom he feels interested, for certainly the first date. Potentially even several. This is a way of romancing, of investing in her, and an act of generosity.

However, my point on decreasing investment in the dating realm isn’t especially monetary. Within said mentioned Vogue article, men blatantly remark, “why should I pay to take a woman out to dinner when instead, I can line up 3, 4, even 5 girls in one night to sleep with? Why bother with dinner?”

Thus, apps like Tinder (though this is not the only culprit. There are mindsets pushed and glamorized within our media nowadays that also add to it) are contributing to a diminished and cheapening sense of dating. In fact, much of the relational landscape is no longer even dating. Instead, it’s merely hooking up/sleeping with people and using this as a means of starting relationships- a surefire way to make bad choices in partners (or, instead just hooking up, discarding, and then moving on to the next).

How can this be a problem? It makes things harder for people who actually want a high quality relationship. It makes for an uphill battle, navigating the casual, disposable, too-cool-for-emotions, ghosting ready landscape for those who are interested in an authentic, adult, healthy and openhearted relationship.

When certain ways of behaving become trendy, acceptable, or the norm, this contributes towards a spreading of such behavior, even if it doesn't feel especially right for some of those very people. We tend to follow in the footsteps of how society acts, even if we don’t love it. It is a rare (as well as impressive and commendable) person who goes against this grain. Thus, all of such making it that much harder for those who want something deeper and more high quality.

When one refuses to invest in someone, it’s nearly impossible to initiate the actual building of a relationship. When aloof and detached is prized over vulnerable and heartfelt, people remain at a distance from one another. Easily dismissed. Many ever on the search for “something better” without much interest at exploring further, that which is right in front of them.

— A false sense of an abundance of options. With dating apps, we have been given the impression that an endless sea of options awaits. That if this one doesn’t work out, who cares? There is another better, hotter, higher quality option out there.

While there may be some degree of truth to this (such as, if someone truly isn’t a match, move on to the next one as yes, there are loads of others out there who will be wonderful matches for you), this mindset seems also to have been taken to an extreme. To the degree that we have begun searching for an elusive “10.”

Chucking people aside, many of whom are likely those with which we could fall in love and potentially be great matches, but because they aren’t model gorgeous, or the first date isn’t a fire crackling 10, or we do not hit it off immediately within mere minutes, forget it. Moving on to “something better.” This mindset and way of operating is a mistake.

Yes, if you feel no semblance of interest, nor any spark with someone, certainly move on. Forcing something is nonsensical, unfair to both of you, and a waste of time. This would make for a highly unsatisfactory relationship over the long run.

However, often times we ax people much too quickly. People with whom we may feel a flicker of initial interest, or have some things in common, but because it doesn’t all line up perfectly right off the bat, we decide its a no-go.

This is missing out on many people with whom you could be an awesome match, if having given it just a bit more time. Plenty of “7s” can grow into “10s” over a handful of dates.

On the first date, everyone is awkward, no one is themselves. Thus, if you feel a flicker of something, if you had a good time, go out with this person once or twice more. Give it a bit of a chance. If still no match, all good, move on. However, you might be surprised to find something can grow where you least expect it after all.

The point isn’t to force something but instead, to explore a bit. To give someone a chance before deciding too quickly. This better ensures one isn’t passing over people whom, if they had given it a bit more time, might have majorly hit it off. Think of friends in your love, even past romances, or colleagues with whom you hit it off. I am willing to bet that at least a handful of them, you did not initially feel such enthusiasm for. You were surprised, in what developed later on.

Because while there are lots of fish in the sea, there are also loads of people in the world and on dating apps with whom you will not be a match. Thus, it also pays to choose carefully. As well as, to not prioritize the wrong wishes in a partner (such as, how tall they are, how much money do they make, are they too shy, etc). None of which determine if this person will be a fantastic partner.

Choosing a partner is one of the most crucial decisions of one’s life. It shouldn’t be one approached flippantly. Instead, it should be approached with mindfulness, care, and a sense of curiosity. You might be surprised. Sometimes people we didn’t think would be a match for us initially end up being even better for us than those we assumed would be “our type.”

In conclusion, there are several mindsets and methods which have become prevalent in the dating world today which are not especially helpful to our finding healthy, soul satisfying, joyous, and truly good relationships.

Instead, many of the thought processes and approaches we seem to be taking in dating do not especially serve us in finding and creating our best relationships. Some of them hinder, stilt, and even prevent it.

How to push back on these damaging mindsets and methods?

Connect with someone online, but then make plans to meet within a week of that initial connection. Get the ball rolling. Discover: do you have the in-person chemistry or not? Don’t drag things out for ages with texting. It’s both anticlimactic and can end up being a huge waste of time.

When you meet someone you like, dare to tell them. To engage and be vulnerable. Choose to adapt a sense of agency and interest. If you like someone, show it. Invest in them and the budding relationship. This will pay off wildly with the right person. It’s also how you build a quality relationship (romantic, as well as platonic).

Feel a bit of spark or find someone interesting, though on the fence? Give it another chance, or even two chances. Do not ax people so quickly. In doing so, you can miss out. Don’t force anything. If no legit connection/attraction is felt after a handful of dates, let it go. But, if you feel something (even if not fireworks), be curious and open. Give it a shot.

We can have far more success in our dating lives and relationship seeking, if only we might choose to approach, as well as look at our relations with people in many ways which are contrary to those our culture is currently emphasizing.

Written by

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author.

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