As human cultures shift, so does dating. In many ways, this has proven to be a positive development. For one thing, individuals have a whole lot more freedom of choice and a whole lot more people to choose from! But… that also complicates things in this digital age of ours. For starters, it’s been shown — across the board — that people have a harder time making decisions when they have so many options.
Then again, dating shouldn’t be too easy anyway. Hooking up is one thing but for those seeking a life partner, there is a value when this quest requires time and effort.
Why is Dating So Hard?
Not too long ago, people and often lived in the same geographical area for their entire life and the internet wasn’t ubiquitous. Your parents’ generation may have happily met prospective partners at local dances, jobs, and through family or neighborhood friends. Let’s take a look at one of the most common obstacles in the world of modern dating:
Dating Apps, Social Media & Online Life
Yes, these apps can often succeed but they also can turn romance into a minefield. The online world is overrun with fake news and for those seeking a relationship, this reality takes form in some disheartening ways. We already touched on the pitfalls of having too many choices but here are some other reasons:
- Fake dating profiles and the omnipresence of bots
- The pressure of creating the “perfect” profile
- Hook-up culture
- “Ghosting” has now become virtually accepted as a normal behavior
- People on social media carefully curate their life and thus, can create unrealistic expectations
- Other people’s posts about their partners can foster loneliness and low self-esteem for those who are single
- The fear of receiving unwelcome explicit photos or having your explicit photos shared without your knowledge
- The fear of cyberstalking
- Being judged primarily on your physical appearance
- Online interactions promote less direct, consistent, and radically honest communication
- Modern-day confusion and strife over how to perceive or even talk about gender roles
- The easy access to extreme pornography has negatively shifted perceptions and expectations as to what it considered “normal” and “accepted” in terms of intimacy
Meanwhile, many of the traditional problems with dating remain. So, how does a single person in today’s world navigate all of this?
Lead By Example
We all know that “no one knows how to hold a conversation” anymore. Ghosting is rampant and online connections feel disposable. Even so, this doesn’t apply to everyone and certainly does not have to apply to you. In other words, set boundaries and standards early. Let them know that you’re looking to have real conversations. Also, make it clear that you can disagree with people on some topics without cutting them off. However, set, state, and enforce your boundaries. You never have to tolerate disrespect. Get in the habit of being real and see who it attracts.
- Set your intentions for what you are looking for and why
- Take your time and enjoy the process
- Trust your gut and never ignore red flags
- Stay curious and open about people
- Develop and cultivate hobbies and interests
- Connect with people who share your interests
- Learn from bad experiences but don’t let them color your entire perspective
- Keep working on yourself and finding new ways to appreciate being single in the meantime
There is No Magic Formula
No one can “fix” modern dating. But a qualified therapist can serve as a valuable guide. If dating has you feeling frustrated, sad, lonely, or angry, let’s talk. It can make a world of difference to have a professional serving as a coach of sorts as you negotiate the ups and downs of dating.