It was a simple question my best friend asked me — “How do people find boyfriends and girlfriends anymore?” — but it took two phone conversations with him to find an answer.
The dating world is confusing enough with endless titles to classify the status of the relationship, and technology serving as both a pivotal tool to finding love, as well as a gigantic wrench thrown into the works.
I’ve been trying to find out what has changed over the years. Not the years of our parents, and grandparents, and great-grandparents — a time when we were not a part of this world and therefore affected by it; I’m talking about the years we 20-somethings have been dating.
Looking at the steadily rising divorce rate and working at a newspaper for the last five years has taught me that people’s attention spans are shrinking. I know mine is. Most of you won’t even read this article all the way through. We get bored easily, or we look for the next best thing — something more exciting, something fresh, something new altogether.
Whether it’s committing to an article for the next several minutes, or another person for the rest of our lives, something about doing the same thing for an extended period of time makes us uncomfortable, disinterested, or downright scares the hell out of us.
We want to do everything on our own terms in dating, and we couldn’t care less about the collateral damage we leave in our way.
We agree to go on dates in the moment, all the while knowing we plan on “having to reschedule” later. We cancel dates at the last-minute simply because something better came along. We’re “not emotionally available,” but kiss someone anyway. If we ask to go out on a date too soon, we’re seen as overzealous, “thirsty,” or impatient, yet booking anything more than a few days in advance puts you at risk to be passed over for a better option.
We have no consideration for other people, and we believe that our feelings and our time will always be worth more than that of another. We tip the scales in our favor before anything happens, believing that we are not equals with this other person, who is simply the product of us having nothing better to do at the time.
People are disposable to us. We don’t see them as human beings; we see them as another number in our phone or another match in our dating app history.
We treat people like they’re not good enough, give up on them instantly, and then wonder why they couldn’t be who we thought they were or hoped they would be.
We don’t want people to serve as chapters in our lives anymore, with rich, compelling anecdotes and character development along the way; we want them to be bookmarks — there when we need them, then casually tossed aside until we want or need them again.
We seek out what we want, but not necessarily what we need. If we’re recently separated and on the rebound, we completely close the door on relationships — even if the very next person we meet can be the one. If we long for commitment, we force a situation that might not be there — even if it’s been abundantly clear from the start — or prematurely jump into the deep end of the dating pool. If we want to casually date, we make sure to draw thick, permanent lines so that neither of us can make a false move and later claim it was accidental.
We’re stuck in a ‘grass-is-always-greener’ mindset and don’t invest the time for a connection to set in or the chemistry to percolate properly. We’ve stopped looking for the right person and settle for someone right now. We exchange numbers at the bar after hitting it off, but the spark fizzles once one of you walks out of the door.
We avoid confrontation at all costs, then snap at or blame the other person if they simply seek an explanation.
It’s always someone else’s fault, never our own. For all of the “entitlement” jabs the older generation takes at us, none are more deserving than when it comes to dating.
We think that avoiding confrontation or dancing around delivering a definitive rejection will “let someone down easily,” when all it does it build them up higher with false hope, making the fall that much greater.
If we simply just told people what we want from the start (or at all), it would be much easier to find out if you two are on the same page or if you’re even reading the same book. Maybe if we stopped leaving loose ends everywhere, we would stop complaining when we trip over them.