Maybe Our Unrealistic Expectations Are What’s REALLY Wrong With Modern Dating

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Erii Gutierrez / Unsplash

With the instant gratification that dating apps offer – where a swipe and a “hey there” gets you a date – are we trying to fast forward to “happily ever after” too soon?

After passing our initial test, the Bumble/Hinge/Tinder profile leads to the infinite screening process that is the internet.

By the time that some women get ready for a first date (myself included), we may already have expectations about the role we want them to play in our lives.

Are they going to be the hockey player who takes us to our first Rangers game?
The rock climber who teaches us how to climb?
The coffee aficionado who breaks me out of my Starbucks bubble?
The stay at home on a Friday night guy who helps balance me out?

As an extrovert, first dates are generally breezy and are guided by a reasonable check-list of expectations:

Was he nice to the waiter?
Does he show genuine interest in what I’m saying?
Can he make me laugh?
Does he have more interests than going to the gym?

If you’re as selective with your time and company as I am, second dates are few and far between. Generally, these evenings are a continuation of the greatest hits of each other’s lives:

Where did you study abroad?
Do you have any trips coming up?
Are you close with your family?
Did you know you always wanted to be an architect/lawyer/etc.?

Again, easy.

As someone who has a “catch flights, not feelings” mindset, I don’t fall for people very often… but when I do my mind goes into overdrive sometime between the second and third date. My internal dialogue goes a little something like this:

He hasn’t texted me all week – did he not have as much fun as I thought he did?
Was I just a little too honest?
How many other women is he dating?
Shit, is he dating me just because I’m Asian?

While I’m #blessed to have a large network of girlfriends to swap stories with, this can turn casual dating (which is supposed to be fun) – into a drama-filled brunch.

As a protective factor against “catching feels,” my friends and I have tried to implement a rule: “don’t get excited about someone until after the third date.” But life doesn’t really work like that.

The early stages of dating someone who shows promise is an incredibly vulnerable time. As someone who has high standards for herself – and her company – it’s hard not to have expectations once someone passes the first/second/third date test.

You eventually build up the courage to ask: “What are you looking for?”

Sometimes, the answer is, “Maybe a relationship.”

This hurts initially because your instinct is to think, “why not me?”

But after reflecting (and a sleepless night or two), you remember that you’ve only shown each other the best parts of yourself. Someone who hasn’t seen and accepted you at your worst doesn’t deserve to be built up as a leading character in your life.

Someone who weekend-zones you and doesn’t text you during the week isn’t deserving of your self-doubt. You have plenty of people in your life who will respond to a text from you right away, who will pick up your calls at midnight, and tag you in memes all day.

So, keep your standards high – but manage your expectations for what you can’t control. It’s not your place in this world to convince someone to stay in your life because being you should be enough for them. TC mark

One story, told five ways…

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