In 2017, there is something profoundly stupid about dating.
It may not be specific to this year, of course. Perhaps this soul-sucking, speed-dating, pretend-not-to-really-care exercise has been around for a while now. Maybe the idea that we should date people completely unworthy of our time and attention – all while discarding those who show signs of caring – isn’t such a new phenomenon.
But my recent, forced entry into the disappointing world of modern dating has given me a look at something I haven’t been able to experience before – and, boy, have I missed out.
What I’m seeing in this foreign and unsettling place is that endless choices via dating apps are worsening, not improving, the quality of people we end up choosing to spend our time with.
With the comfort that we can keep swiping without any real consequence, we concoct an image of who the perfect partner is, and we are led to believe that our now-unlimited pool of options will lead us to that person.
We fool ourselves into thinking there is such a thing as perfect, and we become convinced that good people with inevitable flaws aren’t worth our time even if they deserve a chance.
We find reasons to discard the good – they’re too short, too nice, act like they care too much – in search of the perfect.
Then, when the “perfect” person we matched with on Tinder ends up being a grade-A piece of trash, we wonder what in the hell went wrong.
What’s wrong is that too many people are searching for something that doesn’t exist, and they’re getting burned, instead of seeing what’s often right in front of them.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not in the business of trying to convince people to settle for something less than they deserve or want.
We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to find someone that loves us the way we need to be loved and cares for us the way we need to be cared for.
But in this modern world of dating, it’s often the most genuine people who get thrown under the bus because they aren’t perfect and don’t pretend to be, while the assholes of the world – those good at putting on a show and saying all the right things – have the most success.
There is no way to say all of this without sounding like the guy who wants to change the rules because he’s losing the game, but that doesn’t mean the game doesn’t still suck.
We can all do so much better, both for ourselves and for each other, if we just kick our collective habit of thinking we need everything to be flawless right here, right now.
If you’re sick of getting hurt, if you’re cynical about love, if you wonder why you keep striking out, then I have a novel piece of advice for you: Stop doing what you’re doing and get back to the basics.
Find someone who listens, who you enjoy spending time with, someone you trust, someone who makes you laugh, someone you can rely on – someone who’s entire appeal doesn’t disintegrate upon ten minutes of casual inspection.
I get that these things aren’t sexy, and they may not catch your eye when you’re swiping through your phone at midnight – but they’re true things. They’re what make real and lasting relationships.
We’ve got to stop letting the perfect be the enemy of the good. Perfect doesn’t exist, and it’s often just when we think we’ve found it that we get hurt the most.
So, please, put down your phone. Give the swiping a rest for just a moment. Look around. There is so much good right in front of us , good that we take for granted.
Each day we spend ignoring it, while we pursue some perfection that never comes, is a day we can’t get back.
Let’s stop rewarding those who are good at playing a game and start searching for those who are simply good.
Maybe then we can instill just a little bit more meaning in what has become the hollow and depressing exercise of dating in 2017.