Navigating the dating world 50 years ago was a simple case of boy meets girl (or boy), boy and girl like each other, boy and girl date, get married and live happily ever after… at least in the fairy-tale version. Now, we deal with increasingly demanding social norms, and the sharing of information via social media, making the dating world harder and harder to navigate and relationships increasingly more destined to fail. Here’s everything that is wrong with the way date now:
1. We play it cool
We play it cool through fear that the other person will be daunted if, god forbid, we actually let them know that we are into them. We aim to be the one that cares less, not more, and we purposefully reduce and hide our real emotions in order to be ‘cooler’ than our counterpart.
2. We ‘Netflix and Chill’
We don’t go out, we don’t make an effort, we don’t want to be that person who tried too hard. So we don’t date, we hang out, we don’t go to the movies, we watch Netflix ‘and chill’.
3. We entertain the three date rule
We impose a deadline, a target, we make it to the third date and bang, you did well and my pants are off. Rather than waiting until we are happy, or hey, not waiting at all because we want it and we want it now. We restrict ourselves with socially acceptable boundaries which supposedly will make the relationship last longer… because that of course is the only thing affecting how long we will be together.
4. We don’t talk
We no longer spend hours talking on the phone until we can’t stay awake any later, we don’t call each other up just to see how the other person’s day was. As phones get ‘smarter’ we further and further remove our need to really connect with one another. Messaging apps replace conversations, and though we are always available via the device in our pocket, it is always in text form.
5. We watch each other’s lives on social media
We see too much online- where they have been, who they were with, what they wore, what they drank and ate, in the form of check-ins, tweets, snapchats and Instagram posts. We watch each other’s lives going by wondering who this new friend is and what happened after that last post at 2am. We watch the last time messages were checked, when messages were read and we drive ourselves crazy asking why we did not receive a reply. But of course, we play it cool and we don’t ask the questions that plague our sleepless nights, we just wait for the next time we’re invited over for Netflix and feel grateful not to have been ‘ghosted’.
6. We are scared to define our relationship
We don’t have those difficult conversations, we don’t impose exclusivity, we don’t tell each other that we really truly want them and only them in our lives. We don’t form relationships, we don’t plan futures, we just hope that the other person’s perspective matches our own.
7. We overthink our actions
In this mixed up game of playing it cool, hanging out, keeping it casual and not saying the wrong thing we overthink everything we do say, and everything we do. We think about how quickly we respond to messages, how we sign off, how we greet them, how often we contact them, we overthink it all for fear of scaring them away with the wrong behaviour or the wrong words.
8. We don’t tell them what we want
For dinner, to do, in bed…. we don’t ask for what we want because we are afraid of what they will think of our choice. Instead we are neutral, passive and closed.
9. We play games
We count the minutes to be sure we reply slower to their messages than they to ours. We re-shape the way our lives look to them, we alter the way we behave, to participate in some kind of game that we are winning only because we defined the rules and forgot to tell them they’re playing.
The worst thing about the way we date now though has to be that we fulfil these social norms although they are not what we want. Please, introduce me to the person that enjoys those games – the one who wants to watch Netflix instead of ever going on a real date, or who does not, in fact, want to formalise their relationship with the person in whom they invest so much time. These socially imposed boundaries are killing our romance and reducing our love to behaviour that is driven and not chosen by ourselves.
It’s time for us to start accepting that these rules are irrelevant, that the guy or the girl will not be put off if our messages come too quick, our communications are too open or our words too true. It’s time to start sharing and loving the way we want to be loved ourselves.