1. We’ve all but made dating the equivalent of online shopping. We’ve normalized the concept of choosing people from a catalog, basing our interest on a photo and a name. We’re getting into relationships based on a role we want somebody to fill, not who they really are.
2. We’re almost equating ‘committing’ to ‘giving up’ on finding better. We look down on the people who we think are settling too soon, as though their lives are over after they say “I Do.” Because we’re presented with said catalog of potential, we don’t want to sell ourselves short (which is pretty backwards when it comes to sincerely finding love, not just a partner.)
3. Many people believe that sex is meaningless when you are literally inside another human being, but calling rather than texting? That’s a huge deal. We’re so socially inept, we get anxious to the point of complete avoidance when it comes to directly asking somebody out, but other things that were traditionally more, you know, intimate, are pretty nonchalant to us. (Not that they shouldn’t be… just that we should get ourselves together and pay the people we love a damn phone call.)
4. We make snap judgments based on someone’s online presence more than we actually get the chance to know them. This applies across the board, but we’ve gotten to a point where differing beliefs listed on Facebook is a valid reason not to go on another date. What’s more, being so invasive and one-sided in your social media stalking is seen as normal, not, you know, creepy as hell.
5. Things are only official when they’re public. You’re only “for real” when you’ve more or less announced it on social media, and what it really comes down to is the fact that we’re not considering our relationships valid unless they’re consumed and approved by others.
6. It’s easier now, more than ever, to compare yourself to other people, and to start making decisions and judgments about your life based on those comparisons. You probably wouldn’t feel as inadequate about being single if you didn’t see all your high school friends plastering their engagement photoshoots across your newsfeed. I think that subconscious need to prove that you’re loved and worthy and committed infiltrates our dating lives more than we realize.
7. We are so caught up in being the person who cares less, that we become afraid of even caring at all. Caring is good, and important, and the world needs more people who care about each other. It isn’t a flaw to care about someone you’re sleeping with, or eating fries with, or watching Netflix on the couch with. It is normal — and you should, in theory, care about them. But refusing to let yourself do that only hurts you more than it hurts anyone else.
8. We don’t even know what romance means anymore. We feel gratified by a “good morning” text. Stop for a second and think about how weird this is – our hearts flutter when we hear a beeping noise. It’s becoming more of a rarity to simply be asked out to dinner, as though “treating somebody you’re interested in well and with respect” is a privilege rather than a matter of course.
9. We’ve been acculturated in an environment where “pursuing our dreams” has become increasingly paramount. Career achievement oftentimes coincides with long hours, moving, and other major relationship sacrifices. (And we’re taught to always put ourselves before love.)
10. “Casual dating” is obsolete. And if you don’t believe me, tell somebody you’ve been out with a few times you’re “talking” to a few other people and watch it end right then and there.
11. When initially courting someone, you kind of need to have your phone on you at all times. Going to the gym for a few hours? Not texting back can spell doom, figuratively and literally.
12. Few things are still held as sacred milestones, we’re gliding over the foundations so quickly, we’re not really creating them. You can have your first kiss, date, sleepover, etc. all in one night. There’s no air of mystery and there’s nothing to look forward to a lot of the time, because if you don’t express extreme interest right away, you get written off.
13. Truly grand gestures are out of the question, same thing goes for expressing feelings. People make it seem like falling in love takes a certain amount of time, and can only happen after x, y, and z, But really, you can fall in love quickly and it can be a love that could last a lifetime. And falling in love quickly doesn’t mean that you don’t take things slowly.
14. Any and all interactions with members of the sex to which you are attracted become suspect. You could be replying to your cousin’s silly comment on Instagram, but the person you’re seeing has now had a seed of doubt planted in their mind. We’re more paranoid than ever, and we have the resources to fuel that insanity right at our fingertips.
15. The art of “having a conversation” is dying slowly. Communication is how you fall in love – verbal, physical, sexual, whatever. When you’re more concerned with what’s happening on your iPhone, or worse, when you don’t know how to sit for an hour and have a glass of wine and discuss something more than 140 characters long, you’re missing out on the ability to communicate who you are to someone (and you’re completely missing what it means and takes to really get to know someone.)
16. The need to be cool and play games is exhausting, but you might as well be prepared for being single for a long-ass time if you refuse to not participate by any of these modern dating “rules.” The worst part is that there’s rarely a way around all of these, and how often is that inhibiting our ability/chance to find real love?