We’ve all heard the phrase “don’t hate the player, hate the game.” What happens, though, when you don’t even know how to play the game?
I blame high school. Those four years are crucial for learning how to interact with the male species and I missed out. I went to an all-girls high school that taught me to be a strong, independent, bad-ass female and I didn’t need any man for success. An ideology I’ve thoroughly embraced. Meanwhile, the boys I did hang out with were hardly in my sphere of interest and I never put myself out there to try and actually “date” or whatever the high school equivalent was. And no, making out behind the West Side Story set doesn’t count.
I know how to interact with guys, I have brothers after-all, but interacting with guys on a level beyond friendship? It’s a foreign language to me.
Dating, more or less, should be simple. You meet someone, you go on a date, you decide to go on another one, so on and so forth. Not in the 21st century, however. For as advanced as our society has become, in terms of love, we’ve certainly regressed. Not only do we have our “pick of the litter” thanks to Tinder and other dating apps, but you can know anything about anyone by googling them. The mystery is gone. So are realistic expectations. How are we supposed to have realistic standards when we have shows like The Bachelor that exacerbate the idea that love is a fairytale that happens on seven dates in seven different countries and who cares if you actually know anything deep about one another?
My problem is that I don’t know how to navigate the waters of 21st century dating. I don’t know how to play “the game” as it pertains to dating apps and texting. If I want to talk to someone, why can’t I text them? Why should I wait for them to text me first? Is it such a cardinal sin to reach out to a guy that I’m interested in lest I look like an over-eager, stage-fiver? Can’t I just try to get to know someone without it seeming like I’m already registering for a marriage license?
First dates aren’t a problem for me. As much as I detest dating apps, I join in because, really, what are my other options? It’s getting to the second date, the narrow, deep river, between date one and date two that I have no idea how to handle. How do I act interested without coming across as too invested too quickly? How do I seem “chill” but also try to get to know him? How do I play it as if he’s not the only thing of interest in my life even though the only thing that’s happened of note lately is finishing
Parenthood on Netflix?
For someone with trust issues, apps definitely complicated dating. How can I trust that he’s actually interested in me when he’s probably going home to swipe right before bed? How can I let someone in without the fear of him ghosting on me a week later? Technology has made access to dating easier; it hasn’t made the quality of dates better. In fact, having so many people at your disposal almost makes dating seem antiquated. Why settle for one? Why put in time if it doesn’t seem SUPER AWESOME SO GREAT on the first date? She’s awesome but doesn’t like the Yankees? No worries, you’ll just swipe right until you’ve found a girl who does.
Dating apps are actual choose your own adventures that end with you being able to go back to the beginning if one doesn’t go the way you planned. And I don’t know about you, but my life is definitely nothing like a choose your own adventure. Dating apps have made it easy for people to stop being held accountable for their actions. And when you have nothing to lose, you’re already starting with one foot out the door.
I don’t know how to date in the 21st century. I don’t know when trying to get to know someone by texting them became a red flag for “this girl is way too interested get out now.” I don’t know when our only options for meeting people became our phones. I don’t know if it will change. And I definitely don’t know how to date according to these standards.
I don’t know how to date and it’s ruining my dating life.