I’m going to say a bad word.
Yes, that infamous, dreaded, gnarly word—dating.
Any socio-health professional will tell you it’s good to date and meet new people. Developing romantic relationships, being vulnerable, establishing what you like and don’t like, is critical. Especially for young adults.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t terrible.
Spending time at home with your dog watching Netflix is a lot easier and enjoyable than going out on dates. But, as my dad likes to say, “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
There’s been a lot of lament about the modern dating world. With apps and websites like Tinder, eHarmony, and Match.com (heck, even Instagram can get the digits) you can pick and choose your ideal mate anywhere at any time.
Sounds great, right?
Problem is, a lot of adults in the dating world struggle to obtain that fully-realized relationship.
Some postulate that just like Chipotle, people get too caught up in all the choices offered, they fail to make a decision. Others say the problem is people don’t know what they want. So when they specify for a partner who is 6-foot, dark, tan and handsome they miss out on 5-foot, pale, pasty and perfect-for-you. You could spend days listening to experts explaining why dating is so challenging.
Here’s what I say:
People are trying too hard.
Dating shouldn’t be an all-consuming, stress-inducing monster that rides on your back every day. It also shouldn’t be quick and convenient.
Because here’s the thing; it’s about people, not apps.
When we commoditize others through online pictures and bio pages, we fail to hear their voice. We fail to truly see their face, and we forget they aren’t much different from us.
I’m not saying we should cut out online dating and return to the days when a man would escort a fair lady ‘round the promenade with five chaperones. It would be foolish to revert to the past.
However, we should use some of the old methods alongside the new—we ought to balance.
Online dating should be treated as a resource, not a cure, to loneliness. That means when someone is out of opportunities in their day-to-day life, they should enlist the aid of online dating as a leg-up.
Look, I get it.
I worked as a part-time nanny for several months and felt the drought. I couldn’t meet decent single men while watching children all day—I had no co-workers or customers or peers. I was lucky I was a full-time student, or else I might’ve really missed people who don’t need phonogram cards.
You see, online dating was initially created for those in the singles drought. It was meant for people who didn’t have access to fellow singles.
It should not be used for someone who’s surrounded by Bettys and Beaus. They may like it for the convenience, but they are misusing the resource.
Now let’s tackle the texting-limbo. Once again, I get this. Once again, I’ve experienced this.
It’s common for singles to message each other for weeks chatting, shooting flimsy compliments, or sending Trump memes without going on a date.
Even worse, the two will text a lot for a while then suddenly one will stop replying. They become so unreachable the only explanation is they’ve forgot what technology is, and how to use it. This occurrence has been termed as ghosting. It’s so ridiculous comedians could make routines out of it. In fact, comedians have made routines out of it. Frequently.
Our fear of rejection makes us hide behind our phones. People fifty years ago feared rejection too, but you know what? They had no smartphones. You know what else? They managed to survive.
Take a lesson from your Pops and ask the person point-blank, where, when, and what you guys wanna do.
Also, don’t say “Let’s hang out sometime.” Hanging-out is middle schoolers scootering to the 7-Eleven to get some Doritos.
It’s a vague phrase that leaves more questions than answers. Is this a date? Just friends? When is sometime? Can I set my clock to sometime?
Stay away from “hanging out” if at all possible. Unless you fully intend to scooter to 7-Eleven with your Tinder match.
When you finally reach the golden pinnacle of meeting-up, seek quality time.
Go on hikes (or walks if you live away from nature), meet for coffee, or visit a museum/gallery. These types of activities scream for conversation and are far more relational. Honestly, they’re more memorable as well.
Note: movie dates are for the 10th date, not the first.
Second note: 3 a.m. bars are not where soul-mates reside.
The rest of it is trial and error with that funny thing called chemistry. Let dating be a balance. Let it come naturally and don’t let it control you. I think if we all did that, we’d be in better shape.