Dating in the digital age
From a very young age, my mother taught me not to chase boys. “They will come to you if they like you Julia,” she said. “And don’t ever call them first.”
This advice led me to becoming the strong, proud woman I am today. But courtship has taken quite a turn. Gender roles are reversing, causing confusion with the process we were once accustomed to, and technology is taking over basic human interaction, creating a completely different social dynamic.
It’s hard to remember how dating used to be. If you didn’t meet your significant other in high school or college you probably met them through friends, at a party or at a bar, despite the stereotype of not being able to meet anyone worthwhile at a place like that, it still happened.
Let’s think back to how it all went down in the good old days. A man would approach a woman, ask her for her number, write it down, using a pen and paper (maybe even a napkin) and then he would call her and ask her out on a proper date. There was a plan involved. It was made in advance, where both parties agreed and confirmed to meet at a certain time and place. If they liked each other, after a certain period of time they made their exclusivity clear, usually without hesitation. Now, phone calls are nearly obsolete, plans are being made loosely and the art of courtship and romance has become a nostalgic memory. It used to be a seamless, uncomplicated process, with minimal thought behind it. You met someone you liked and you ended up with him or her. Single people today have a disposable approach to dating. One date is lined up after the next.
Is it possible to meet someone within your first few tries, hit it off and end up in a relationship or married? Sure, anything can happen. But for most daters today, that kind of fate is not easily encountered.
When Match.com (now the world’s biggest dating site) made its debut, minds were blown. This virtual platform generated a secret society of intrigued daters who apprehensively fulfilled their curiosity by signing up. Silently going on dates, these couples would never admit to how they met. It was far too taboo for a very long time. The stigma associated with desperation by way of online dating has significantly faded since then. In fact, online dating has become one of the largest revenue-generating industries in the digital space. With millions of users it’s hard to understand why so many people are still single. One would think with more options and outlets to meeting one another available today, it would be easier to find your match. But it’s not.
And just when you thought all the various online sites were enough to keep daters occupied for eternity, dating apps were created to make the selection process even more convenient and accessible. You can find love by swiping right on your phone while at home sitting on your couch or even on your toilet. This is the new norm, the most common way of meeting anyone. People are on these apps while out socializing or on their own dates, as soon as one person steps away for five minutes, back to swiping or messaging it is. It seems we’re losing touch of basic social skills. Instead of conversing with new people, everyone’s heads are in their phones, either sending texts or skimming through social media. Singles may have better luck at home, messaging each other through an app.
This dating revolution all started with text messaging. Being able to communicate with such ease, at any time or any place paved the way to a more casual type of connection. The hook-up culture grew as single people gained the liberty of reaching out to their options late at night or in the spur of the moment, with no commitment to plans necessary. Making a phone call takes more courage and could be considered rude past a certain hour, but shooting over a simple text is no biggie and not as disruptive. People are even “breaking up” with each other these days via text message, or not breaking up with each other, just blatantly ignoring each other’s texts until the hint is taken. How easy is that? No awkward conversations, just temporary feelings of rejection and confusion for the person who has been ignored, aka “ghosted,” but everyone moves on eventually.
So how do singles adjust? By creating their own balance of now and then. Take advantage of the positives of the modern dating scene while maintaining some aspects of tradition. It may seem intimidating, but think about how much easier it is to meet people now. We live in times where we can search for a mate by inputting our most desired criteria, essentially curating our ideal person. Times are now that every single human being is given the same chance at love as anyone else, no matter what gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual preference. We have the ability to connect with others whom we would never have had access to before.
Stay true to your values and do not lose sight of what’s important. Embrace the possibilities. There are plenty of great people looking for relationships; they might just take a little longer to find. Have fun exploring your options, whether it’s meeting people through socializing or swiping. Be confident, be flirty, go ahead and hand someone a napkin with your number on it. Make a call. And please, when you do meet someone you like with potential, put your phone down, delete your apps and give it a real chance.
Julia Bekker, aka Hunting Maven is a Connecticut native and professional coach and matchmaker, helping singles and couples find and maintain love.