Is Current Dating Paradigm Ruining Relationships?

Modern dating is complicated. It can be everything and nothing all at the same time.

Millions of people around the world are trying to find LOVE online as we speak. For years I was one of them.

As a 38-year-old single mum, I’m pretty much living in the thickest part of the modern hookup culture – perfecting the art of trying to get the right man in my life from crafting the perfect response to a text to make me seem just interested enough, taking the proper five seconds to adequately judge a person and determine whether or not to swipe left or right on Tinder. That’s the world I live in now and I have to confess: I hate it with every fiber of my being.

We seem to have lost patience with everything. We don’t read books like we used to. We channel surf. We move on if a web page takes more than five seconds to download. We throw away perfectly good things. It’s quicker to replace something than repair it. We take our smartphones to dinner. We no longer listen and absorb. We put up selfies on Instagram when we just can’t bear to be in our own company for more than a few minutes.

When something comes along that’s newer than what we already have, our instinctive reaction is to throw away and upgrade, as quickly as possible. Just look at the ridiculous cult of Apple and its products. People sleep outside a store overnight to get their hands on a phone? The world’s gone crazy.

A major repercussion of this phenomenon is that relationships — the bedrock of our society — are being treated with the same impatience as everything else. Facebook alone is blamed for causing one in five breakups in the United States and one in three in the United Kingdom. Those figures have some margin of error, of course, but they’re not too far from the truth.

I hear people complain about the single life all of the time. Stories from my friends, articles on the Internet, anything popular on television –  it’s everywhere. Everything is so damn complicated. Nobody asks you out on a date; they just ask you to hang out – so, after you do, you spend the next three days wondering what it meant. Did you see a movie? Go to dinner? Be careful; you guys were just ‘hanging out’, remember. It was just casual, right? I don’t know, I wonder what he’s thinking. What did our dinner date mean to him? I have a simple solution for those of you who struggle with these daunting questions: ask the other person. Oh wait, you can’t. And here’s why.

I was talking to a girlfriend of mine recently about dating. She described modern day dating as being a “number game.”

“The more people you date, the better your chances are of finding a relationship or possibly a marriage,” she stated.

And with multiple dating apps at everyone’s disposal, you can go on as many dates as possible per week. This in mind, another friend of mine was ecstatic because he had four dates lined up for next week, all of whom he had met online. And while all of this might seem exciting, the sad truth is that people have become so addicted to dating apps, that they aren’t able to devote 100 percent of their attention to a single person anymore. Yet how can one really get to know someone if they are constantly dating others?

We live in a world where people are afraid to feel anything genuine, or at the very least, are afraid to show it. When someone is angry with you, there’s no phone call asking to talk about it. Instead you get a passive aggressive response to a text message or a suspiciously relevant subtweet, quietly calling you out in 140 characters or less. If you like someone, you don’t tell them how you feel; rather you act interested enough for them to pick up on it, but not enough to freak them out. Don’t like it? Too bad. It’s all a big game and if you don’t play by the rules then you lose, and if you lose you end up alone and drowning in a pile of your own insecurity, wondering what you did wrong.

If I like someone, I want to hang out with him. It’s as simple as that. Or at least it should be. But in the modern dating culture to which we are enslaved, it has to be more convoluted than that. If I talk to him too much, I’m needy. If I’m always free when he asks me to hangout, I’m clingy and have no life of my own. If he takes three hours to respond to my text, and my phone is in my hand when I get his reply, I have to wait to answer so I don’t seem too eager. And I am constantly wondering why I play these stupid games.

Why can’t I call someone because I like talking to him? Why does showing I actually care make me needy? If I act angry when a guy blows me off, I’m just a crazy woman, so my only other option is to complain to my friends and wade in anxiety until he finally texts me back. Let me tell you something; I don’t want to be that girl. I don’t want anyone to have that power over me. No one should have that kind of power over anyone. I am so tired of living in a world where apathy is more effective in getting someone’s attention than honesty. I’m tired of the manipulative games that men and women play with one another in an effort to maintain control in a relationship that we’re not allowed to define.

So here’s my idea: let’s all Stop being who we are not. Respect other people enough to tell them the truth. If someone makes you happy, tell them. If someone inspires you, tell them. If you’re not interested in someone, please, just tell them. Don’t ignore people until they disappear. It’s time we grow up and stop leaving people hanging with unanswered texts and cryptic social media posts. Everyone is human and we’re all just trying to understand one another in this messy dating world, so stop treating a relationship of any kind like it’s a challenge to complete. Be honest with other people about how you feel, and don’t get so lost in playing the game that you forget to extend that same courtesy to yourself.

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