SINGLED OUT: The Tragedy of Modern Dating
Can we define dating anymore? What does it actually look like? Traditionally, dating means two people who meet socially with the intent to assess each other’s suitability as a potential monogamous partner. The protocols and practices of dating vary from generation to generation and certain norms form based on culture, standards, and customs. These cultural norms continue to shape how single individuals show up in the dating process.
The Millennial cohort (1980-2000) is quite different from previous generations in numerous aspects, however, there is a major difference in how we conceptualize the dating process. We are the first generation to be immersed in technology and it has radically changed our brains on a neural level.
The days of reaching for peanut butter at the same time at Whole Foods doesn’t exist. Meeting prospective suitors out and about organically is as unusual as online dating was in the early 2000s. Back then it was shameful to admit that you were online dating because that meant to the world that you were incapable of finding love IRL. Today, finding someone online is widely expected and socially normative.
Millennials have become incredibly comfortable with online dating as the preferred modality and are attached to this platform with enmeshment. Hiding behind a screen serves its purpose and continues to enable deplorable conduct. These questionable behaviors have become familiar and conventional.
Any Millennial that is reading this article and actively engages in the dating process knows exactly what I mean. You know precisely what it feels like to possess eagerness, hope, and excitement at the start and then be unfairly drained. You understand wholeheartedly what it’s like to value romantic partnership but can’t seem to get anywhere close to that dream. What you read below is intended to evoke critical thinking, reflection and internal fire.
What is stopping us from discovering authentic, meaningful and vulnerable relationships? How can we achieve healthy relationships when ghosting happens more often than not? Where do we find the strength to continue showing up genuinely when the culture disowns the practice? I don’t have a one-dimensional answer to the questions above, however, I believe passionately that there is a solution.
Accepting inauthenticity, inconsideration, and cowardly acts only perpetuates the ongoing struggle to find a quality partner. If we keep saying to one another, “Oh well, it is what it is,” then we won’t achieve the change we so deeply desire. It is up to us to shake the system and start promoting REAL connection.
I am going to invite you to break the mold and challenge yourself when you feel scared. When you fear vulnerability and know that there is an easy way to avoid it, you take a leap and show up anyways. We don’t have to consent to modern romance standards and can harness the courage to create something far more impactful, long-lasting, and durable. YOU are the start to remarkable change that will rattle us in a powerful way. YOU are the individual who can make dating fun again versus a dreaded activity.
You may be thinking to yourself, “That sounds fine and dandy Paulina but how do I actually do that!?” Well, the next time you are at REI and find someone attractive, go up to them charmingly and say hello or actually meet that bumble candidate in person versus becoming a pen pal that eventually disappears or even tell someone after the first date that you dig them and plan your next date live versus waiting a century.
Remember vulnerability doesn’t always lead to favorable outcomes (it may take multiple attempts) but is the first step in cultivating love. These are a few small steps that could flip the paradigm.
In conclusion, I am calling my fellow Millennial peers to take action. It is time to start practicing accountability, respect, and daring fearlessly. Now go find your prince or princess… they are waiting to be rescued.