In an era plagued by inconsistency, fear, and hypersensitivity, being driven to pursue deeply rooted relationships can be a challenge. Even more demanding is learning to navigate the game that is 21st century dating as a person who appreciates certainty, intentionality, and honest conversation.
So how do we, as millennials striving for more than this hookup culture has to offer, navigate casual dating?
1. Accept it for what it is and jump right in.
There is so much to be said for people who strive for more meaningful relationships amidst a culture that seems to value otherwise. Perhaps dating isn’t what it used to be, but it is what it is and resisting it can lead to more frustration than simply embracing a truly fascinating cultural phenomena. There is something to be said for those who constantly strive for deeper and stronger connections in a culture that highly values such, but is too afraid to actively pursue them.
2. Ask the hard questions.
Casual dating is fun and it should be, but pushing the boundaries of surface level conversation gives you an edge that many people are too afraid to embody. People want to be fully known and accepted. The simplest way of allowing for this is taking the time to let others feel heard, so why don’t we do it more often?
I like the analogy of a present wrapped in multiple layers of paper. Think of the true, unfiltered person you are dating as the gift, and every time you ask a difficult question, you peel back a layer of wrapping paper, getting closer to discovering the much anticipated gift. It’s a real head turner when you move from typical get-to-know-you questions to asking questions that require a little giving of self to answer.
3. Keep your expectations low.
Does it sound pessimistic to look at someone and say, “I don’t have any expectations of you?” At face value maybe, but it should be more of a freeing change than a negative one. It opens the door to unselfishly getting to know the other person without any added pressure. When you refuse to hold someone to a certain set of standards that may or may not be unrealistic, it allows them to be them and you to be you.
The simplest way to eliminate unhealthy expectations, should they arise, is to focus on your own goals, desires, and motivations. Meet people where they are and see where that takes you. Expecting less keeps the door open for possibilities without pressure and what a beautiful thing that is!
4. Do not let uncertainties occupy too much of your mental capacity.
If you spend a significant amount of time thinking someone or something over, you will, whether you like it or not, put expectations on the person or situation, which has the potential to end in unnecessary disappointment. I’ve found that one of the best things for mental clarity is to focus on the things that are important to you, not becoming too singular in thought, and if a new door opens or someone rises to the occasion, it will be more of a pleasant surprise than a fulfilled expectation.
Yes, dating can be ambiguous, unclear, and often times frustrating, but embracing it for what it is and striving to be different can be a beautiful strategy that might open doors you never thought possible.