While technology has clearly changed the way we date, there are also many other social changes in place that have affected how we view dating, mating, and commitment.
We’ve seen the staggering percentages of marriages that end in divorce and our approach to long term commitments is evolving. We aren’t just looking for “the one.” We want autonomy, freedom, and happiness. We want to love someone who also loves us unconditionally. We want more than someone to take care of us, because the reality is, we can take care of ourselves. We don’t want a commitment, we want partnerships. Our love and affection isn’t for barter, it’s a gift. A gift to the person who sees us and loves us as we are.
Social media and dating apps provide endless possibilities for sex, friendship, and romance. For some, this opportunity is daunting. Swiping right gives us boosts of dopamine and juicy hormones confusing our heart by what feels good to the brain and body. But by feeding this never ending hunger for oxytocin and pleasure, we lose sight of what we really crave…. connection. Not only is one of you continually searching for the next fix, you both are, as are the other people in your list of matches. The potential for authentic connection doesn’t stand a chance. You’ve also got a job and a life to attend to while you’re managing all these possibilities.
But for others, these apps produce a faster result for fulfilling a need. For those who know themselves, and can separate love from infatuation, and physical desire from mediocre sex, technology is merely an outsourcing tool. They navigate these platforms with ease and can see beyond the noise of “likes,” “matches,” and “pokes.” They aren’t falling prey to the drama of “ghosting,” and “gas-lighting” because they know exactly what they want from these encounters. They aren’t giving anything away in exchange for false adoration and attention, they simply are enjoying it.
So how do you blend both sides of the modern dating spectrum? Honor yourself, and have integrity. Sure, easier than it sounds. But without those key traits, it doesn’t matter if you’re finding people on Tinder, or doing it the old fashioned way and being introduced to friends of friends… dating will remain unsuccessful and exhausting, and potentially painful.
Know yourself and understand your own needs first. What do you actually want out of a relationship? Long term potential? A fun hook-up? Regardless of what you determine is your motivation, act with honesty toward the person on the other side of the screen or restaurant table. Do them a solid by responding to text messages, even if you have to say, "you’re not interested.” Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not, if you can’t have casual sex, don’t. If you don’t want to spend loads of money on expensive dates without the date including sex, don’t.
You’re not an asshole for feeling that way, you’re an asshole for not saying anything at all, and then ghosting. By being true to ourselves first, and inviting someone to spend time with us, we lead the way to authentic connections. Take a risk. Be straightforward about what you want. In the end, we all know there isn’t the “one that got away” anymore…. we can always find them on Facebook.