Technology has opened up a world of possibilities for people looking to date but, at the same time, leaves most of them ill-equipped to get what they really want in love. Relationships are not so straightforward, and it’s hard to tell what’s the right dating etiquette nowadays.
Here are 6 things you should know about modern dating:
1. The competition is fierce
One of my friends was devastated when a guy she had been talking to for 2 weeks suddenly disappeared. She saw him back online a few days later but ignored her last messages. According to her, their conversations were too deep and meaningful for him to ghost her like that, and it perplexed her.
Well, the answer was quite obvious to me — he was most likely talking to many people at once and decided to move forward with someone else in the end. She was among many of his options. And because they were only chatting online, he didn’t feel like he owed her an explanation.
Nowadays, dating apps and social media have created abundant options — people can cast their nests as far as they want, which increases the competition in the dating pool infinitely.
That’s why you should minimize chatting online and quickly progress to meeting in person. If there isn’t a real date planned within a week of establishing contact on an app, it’s best to move on.
The upside is, by the same logic, there is always another fish in the sea for you.
2. People are most likely talking to many matches at once
The people you go on one or two dates with are most likely talking to other people — heck, they might even be sleeping with other people while acting like they’re totally into you.
So never assume you’re exclusive or in a relationship with someone unless you have a clear conversation with them to establish that. Even then, you need to make sure their actions reflect the status of your relationship.
There are differences between expressions of interest vs investment of resources.
A person can express their interest (or even undying love!) to many people at once through low-value actions such as text messages or late home “dates”, but they can’t spread thin their valuable, yet limited, resources such as time, energy, and money without being noticed.
If someone doesn’t treat you like you’re their first priority and you’re in a full-time relationship, well, there, you have it — it is what it is.
3. People know how they’re treating you
Unless they live under a rock or in some sort of isolated society, they know what the expectations for a relationship are and how they’re treating you in comparison.
In fact, people show you how much they value you all the time — pay attention.
If they take hours to reply to your messages, weeks to ask you out, months or years to make up their mind about you, it’s because they don’t want you enough to do it any sooner. You’re an option, not a first priority. You come after any excuses they might give you.
Don’t make any more excuses for them. It doesn’t matter why they’re not doing what you expect from a partner, it’s the fact that they’re not doing it and YOU want more — it’s a fundamental incompatibility. Observe them, and make decisions accordingly.
It’s cliche, but “if they wanted to, they would.”
4. The clearest indicator of interest is making time to meet up in person (repeatedly)
Because that’s how adults progress a relationship.
Technology enables people to feel intimate without actually having any real intimacy. Many people have come to accept not seeing their partner for days, weeks, or even months and still call it a relationship as long as they’re in touch somehow, i.e. digitally.
The truth is, sending a text message every few hours requires minimal effort, and these messages give limited information about a person.
You might think you’ve learned a lot about someone after chatting with them for weeks online, but that’s merely what they’ve chosen to tell you — words on the screen that your brain has turned into images and stories in your head.
Stop filling in the blanks for them. If they’re not making time for you and giving you their full attention in person, they’re living their life elsewhere, without you, and you don’t have a relationship.
5. Most people don’t have your best interest in mind
People often ask, “If they don’t like me, why don’t they tell me?” or “If they’re not interested in me, why are they still texting me?” Mixed signals are confusing, aren’t they?
Well, guess what, most people don’t have your best interest in mind — they have theirs. They keep you in their life even though they know they’re not looking for the same thing as you do because they don’t care about wasting your time. They do what’s best for them: they hit you up when they’re lonely; they spend time with you when they have nothing better to do; they string you along in case they need to fill up their time someday.
If you let someone waste your time, they will do it. If you value your time and yourself, don’t rely on others to do the right things for you. Learn from them — do what’s best for you now.
6. If you don’t make your own judgments, people will do them for you
I’ve seen a woman legit ask whether it was okay that her partner would need her to have breast surgery if she wanted to be relationship material for him. Ugh!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again:
If something is not normal to you, even when it’s normal to many others, it is NOT normal.
If something makes you feel bad about yourself, even when it isn’t an issue to other people, it is NOT okay.
Your relationship is yours; you get to decide what is okay or normal and select people in your life accordingly.
Instead of asking whether an asshole is okay being an asshole to you, it’s better to ask what to do to this asshole and how to avoid assholes like this in the future.
When it’s hard to make a judgment, do your independent research; make a pros-and-cons list; draw on your past experiences; ask people who are close to you who share your values. Remember: good relationships don’t make you question yourself.