There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t have a discussion with some girlfriends or read an article about how terrible it is to date in this era. Millions of articles are floating around with the same basic concept: people have lost the art of communication and the way we go about dating is miserable, lonely and sometimes just straight up unbearable. Trust me, I feel you. I resonate with every single article I read, every wine-drenched discussion with girlfriends hitting a bit too close to home. I get it, and I’m in the middle of it too.
Yes, men will be men. Yes, they have nearly stopped asking us to go on dates and began using the phrase “So, do you wanna hang out?” with alarming frequency. Many find it to be a challenge to portray their true feelings towards us, and many are pursuing other women while pursuing us as well. Dating in today’s society has the ability to absolutely destroy your self-esteem but we always have the mindset of Oh, maybe this one’s different. I’m sorry to tell you, but he’s probably not going to treat you any differently than any other man has. Do you want to know why? We haven’t required men to treat us respectably all the time. We actually enable them to put us second or third in their life, to leave us hanging, to walk away without realizing the pain it causes. We say yes to hangouts over dates, texts over phone calls and comfortable (on his part) silence about feelings because we’ve been taught that something is better than nothing. Even if that something is far less than we deserve.
Like I said, I feel you girl. I feel you on how much dating sucks. I feel your frustration about how we can’t communicate too much or too little without driving him away. I feel your dismay when you start to realize that dating is actually lowering your self-esteem. I do.
But what I don’t feel? Sorry for you… or myself.
What I feel sorry for is this generation of women who are consistently putting themselves in situations that we know will hurt us. Why do we do this? Why do we enter into a less-than-ideal relationship? Why do we play by the rules society has about communication and commitment? Why has our dating selection process gone from getting to know someone to a simple act of swiping left or swiping right? Because it’s easier to throw a pity party for yourself when it all blows up in your face than to step away from your phone screen, stop swiping left or right and start improving what you already have — yourself.
Did you ever stop and think about exactly why you let men ruin your self-esteem? Why you let a text message have so much power over your emotions? Why you’re frustrated about communication but can’t even communicate that to him? Did you ever stop and think about why you’ve said yes to so many hangouts and required so few dates? We allow people to take advantage of our vulnerability and we allow them to control the situation because society has said that we cannot be in control.
I say screw that. Be in control. Don’t settle for Netflix and chill when you want dinner and a stroll around the city. Don’t settle for a passive aggressive text when what you really want is to let him know how you feel. Don’t settle for the misery that comes from being in a dead-end relationship that you know will never work when you have the power to have so much more.
I wouldn’t ever sit here and tell you that dating isn’t lonely. It’s one of the most lonely ventures in this crazy life of ours. Why make it harder on ourselves by settling for mediocrity when we were destined for greatness? (And let’s face it, you were created for AMAZING things including AMAZING love.) Our culture tweets about how important it is to empower others, and I fully believe that with all of my heart, but we need to walk our talk. You know what isn’t empowering? Trashing men that we have allowed to hurt us. Watching your girlfriend go on her sixth “hangout” and hoping it turns into more. It’s not empowering, it’s not helpful and it’s only going to end in hurt.
Here’s my challenge for you.
If you must spend time with someone because you’re afraid of being alone, call a girlfriend. Uncork a bottle of a great red wine and get to know each others’ vulnerabilities and realize you aren’t alone in feeling the way you do. If you must swipe, swipe with the knowledge of what you deserve in the back of your mind and don’t respond to degrading messages from lustful guys. If you must allow a man to be in control of your emotions or self-esteem, girlfriend, go get a self-help book or talk to someone who can shed a light on your situation in a way you haven’t thought of before. If a man’s perspective of you is the be-all-end-all of your self-image, there are more deeply rooted issues you need to sort through.
If you want to date, be selective and don’t put yourself in situations that you know are going to hurt you. In the end, you can only blame yourself or thank yourself. Will you allow yourself to play the victim in another romantic comedy gone wrong, or will you cast yourself in the love story you truly deserve? The choice is yours.