Modern Daters Long For The Good Old Days
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It’s the month of love with Valentine’s Day coming swiftly into our week, I thought this would be the time to review our modern dating rituals and what’s changed over the past few years. Whether you have locked up your date for the 14th or not, take notice of some of
As a 21-year-old recently turned girlfriend, I was not long ago pretty much living in the thickest part of the modern hook up culture and hated it – crafting the perfect response to a text to make you 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 we live in now, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I didn’t miss some of the traditional values.
While I’m in a relationship, 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. But it wasn’t until I experienced it for myself that I truly understood what everyone was complaining about. Everything was so damn complicated.
Nobody asks you out on a date; they just ask you to hang out – so after you do, you can spend the next three days that you’re supposed to be ignoring them wondering exactly what it meant.
Did you see a movie? Go to dinner? Have sex in your car? Fly to Paris and get drunk under the Eiffel Tower?
Be careful because you guys were just hanging out. It was just casual, right? I don’t know, I wonder what he’s thinking? I have a simple solution for those of you who struggle with these haunting questions: ask the other person. Oh wait, you can’t. And here’s why. We live in a world where people are afraid to express 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 sub-tweet, quietly calling you out in 140 characters or less.
That’s now how it used to be. Phone calls would be made. A formal request for a date would be placed. He would even offer to pick you up and ring the bell.
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.
It’s all very complicated, which is why I miss the once pleasant idea of those traditional values. Where normally a guy would ask for your number, then call you to follow up on a date, which would normally take place in a restaurant, movie theatre, or your local bowling alley.
As a student of Mercy College, I have taken the opportunity to ask around some of the single students about how their recent dating experiences were. Sophie, 20, explained her last: “I walked around a shopping mall for two hours with this guy after finding each other on Tinder. It was so sad but his picture looked cute. We didn’t speak again after that.”
This is a typical example of a modern day date especially with people now meeting over social media. It’s a casusal date, which crosses with the confusion with whether at the end you are just friends or leading to something more.
Casual dating comes with many rituals that those from a later generation would of never experienced. Some of these follow as: Don’t ask to hangout two nights in a row. If you texted first last time, you have to wait for him to text you first this time. Don’t double text. You can’t assume anything is more than casual. If you’re wondering where a relationship is going and you decide to bring it up, every word you say has to be carefully chosen so as to seem okay with any response you’re given, even if you’re not. Everything is done through texting. It’s weird to call someone in the modern world just to have a conversation or try to make plans, so we’re forced to wait anxiously for a response that might not ever come.
Everything is calculated to appear thoughtless, and it is one of the most exhausting games I’ve ever had to play. I could earn my master’s degree with the amount of time and energy it takes to determine whether or not my casual hookup actually has feelings for me.
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 dating culture to which we are enslaved, it has to be more convoluted than that.
Talking with another student Mikayla, 21, also wishes there was more formality in the process. “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.”
Whether female or male I’m sure we’ve all had this feeling in modern dating as it seems to be becoming the norm to have constant uncertainty when it comes to understanding the other persons feelings.
So here’s my advice of mastering this new way of dating – 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.