The modern dating scene is a common complaint for both genders. Why?
Dating remains one of those enigmas a lot of people still can’t figure out. We can build skyscrapers, put a man on the moon, and create artificial intelligence, yet dating remains a mystery for a lot of people. Maybe some of the problem lies in people living in denial about what dating is really about and why we do it.
Like most things in life, there are both internal and external factors at work. In Part One we will cover the external factors that can make dating a bigger challenge today.
#1: Social Media & Dating Apps
Social media has made the world a smaller place for everyone. Communication is lightening fast and meeting new people can happen instantly with the swipe of a finger. The addictive nature of social media changed how people socialize. Today, people build a personal “brand” online and work hard to maintain that brand. This means everything that gets posted online needs to follow your “branding”. Can’t date someone who doesn’t fit your brand right?
The need for social status, impressing others and fitting into a “brand loyal” social circle complicates dating. Rather than looking for true compatibility, many people are seeking someone who fits the image they want to show the world. Romantic partners have become trophies and accessories for a lot of people.
#2: No Gender Roles
No, this is not an attempt to say gender roles are “good” or “bad”. They were just a form of structure that made the dating process easier in the past. Everyone knew their role in the situation and acted accordingly. In today’s culture, society doesn’t impose many strict rules for dating behavior. Therefore, there’s much more variety in personality types you can run into. With more variety, dating is more unpredictable and it might be harder to find someone compatible.
When society was more culturally homogeneous, compatibility was easier to find because people had similar mindsets about most things. There wasn’t much of an alternative to going on traditional dates, committing, getting married and starting a family.
Today, commitment is just one of many lifestyle options and not necessarily something you can assume everyone wants. When commitment is not a social expectation, everyone is free to change their mind. You might want to get serious today, and tomorrow you want to travel the world and sleep around. You might be talking and laughing with someone today and tomorrow you ghost them.
The game of dating has lost a lot of its predictability, which can make it more stressful than fun for some people. When dating is stressful, dates are stressful. And when dates are stressful, they don’t go well.
#3: Its Optional
There was once a time when starting a family elevated your lifestyle. For men, being single too long would harm his ability to move up in the world through his career or his own business. Men with families would get higher pay, higher social status and more trust from employers and business associates. They would also have a better lifestyle because their wives would basically be live-in maids and housekeepers.
For women, being single too long would cause social marginalization and a lower standard of living. With less career opportunities available to women and no husband to finance her lifestyle, a single woman’s quality of life would be much lower than a married woman after a certain age.
Ultimately, successful dating used to be more essential for a comfortable lifestyle. It was much easier to make relationships work since each person really needed the other. This is not the case today. Men and women don’t need each other to enjoy a good standard of living. In the modern world, dating is more based on personal goals and preferences. Whether it’s starting a family, having companionship, sex, fun or simply saving more money, bonding with the opposite sex is more optional than ever. And when something is optional, everyone is a lot more selective.
The end result of reasons #1 and #3 is abundance. The combination of easy access to new people through social media and lower pressure to be in a committed relationship creates abundance.
Daters start to feel like they have lots of time, lots of options and lots of choices. This raises everyone’s relationship standards and makes everyone more replaceable. When life is good without a partner, people have to bring more to the table to be worthy of partnership.
Its human nature to become more selective when you have more options. However, having too many options makes it almost impossible to ever feel like you picked the best one. There is always the “what if” question. This can lead some people to lose interest in those who are too available to them. When you believe you’re out of someone’s “league” you might keep your eyes open for an upgrade.
#5: Fake Romance
Traditional romance is largely dead. At least in the west, where the culture is very individualistic. Independence and autonomy is valued. Traditional dating does not mesh well with independence and autonomy. Western culture still struggles to bridge the gap between tradition and modern values.
Dating has never been a charity. Everyone is in it to get something. Western culture still places a stigma on selfish behavior in romantic situations, but it praises selfish behavior in many other areas of life. This is contradictory and even somewhat naïve.
Due to this contradiction, people still go through the “dog and pony show” of “pretending” on dates. They might still engage in outdated and irrelevant dating approaches that can feel fake and cliché.
There might have been more “romance” in past generations because of the mysterious nature of the opposite sex. Something that no longer exists on the same level. Once again, thanks to the Internet and social media, much of the mystery is gone today.
The traditional approach to dating is actually “dated” and makes little sense in the modern world. But since people don’t know what else to do, they stick with the traditional “dog and pony show” or they engage in hookup culture. Neither of which is necessarily the healthiest approach.