Dating! Doesn’t that sound fun? You meet someone, you spend time with each other, you develop butterfly feelings, and now you are all lovey-dovey calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend.
Wait right there! Sorry to break the news to you but it’s not that straightforward anymore in this modern age.
Instead of a meet-cute at the library or coffee shop, you swipe right each other on Tinder or get lucky on OkCupid. Instead of going on dates and forming a committed relationship, you text, hang out, hook up for months (maybe years), and still have no idea what you’re doing with each other.
These challenges aren’t exclusive to twenty-somethings but the dating pool over 30 is also buzzing with people who show little interest in following conventional dating rituals or have no idea what they want.
Here are 7 things you should know about modern dating:
1. You’ll hear a lot of “I’m not looking for anything serious right now”
Some are busy figuring themselves out, some enjoy playing the field as online dating has given them endless options and constant dopamine hits.
Either way, people aren’t expressing desires to settle down with family and children confidently anymore. Or if they do, their words might not reflect their actions when they bail as soon as sex happens.
On the other hand, saying “I’m not looking for anything serious” is an easy way for some to hide their emotional issues and run away from intimacy while steering the relationship towards the casual lane.
2. Everyone seems to already have someone to go to when they get lonely
With the help of dating apps, it’s easier now more than ever to get with someone.
People can text, hook up, or even full-on date someone while juggling another relationship on the side in which the other person is completely blindsided.
Even if they’re not actively doing any of those things, they probably have someone in their contact list that they can contact anytime when they feel lonely.
3. People feel more comfortable having sex than actually talking to each other
People meet, have dinner, get drinks, make out, have sex, and have sex again and again. And it’s highly possible that they know nothing of substance about each other at this point.
To many, getting naked and exchanging body fluids is merely a physical activity that is definitely easier than talking and opening up about themselves. Sharing intimacy has become some sort of a lost art.
4. No one talks on the phone anymore
Texting and only texting is a perfectly acceptable form of communication — either to set up dates or to actually maintain the relationship.
People either don’t like talking on the phone or think no one talks on the phone so they don’t do that either.
For many, talking on the phone feels too formal and gives them anxiety. Some others think texting is better and “Wyd” or “U up?” are completely acceptable conversation openers.
5. Courtship doesn’t exist anymore
Dating has become more genderless and less straightforward — it’s not always clear-cut if a meeting is a date or not.
People don’t state their interest and take the time to explore each other romantically with a goal to establish a committed relationship down the line. Things can be rather blurry and ambiguous and nothing can be assumed.
Also, instead of meeting each other organically then finding out even the most basic info by talking to each other, people in the digital age likely know most things about their date before even deciding to meet up for the first time, thanks to the life-changing magic of internet stalking.
6. There are likely more convenient drinks dates than effortful dinner dates
As the approach to dating becomes more casual and people go on dates more often thanks to online dating, drink dates have become the norm for convenience and economical reasons.
Far gone the day when you get dressed up and hold your date’s arm walking into a candle-lit restaurant, feeling all giddy and special. Now is the day when you throw on a t-shirt and jeans and drop by a bar for half an hour before another meeting somewhere else.
In daters’ defense, having drinks is low risk, low pressure, easily boosts people’s moods, and requires little effort.
7. You don’t really know where you stand with someone
You don’t know if you’re talking, seeing each other, hanging out, hooking up, or officially dating.
People can be together for months and years, having done everything including meeting the parents, and still wonder if they’re in a relationship.
Also, a relationship does not automatically happen — if you want it, you need to vocally define it and leave no stone unturned.
Likewise, having sex does not translate to being a couple or even exclusively having sex with each other — these are all the separate discussions you’ll have to have to figure out where you stand with someone.
What should you do knowing all this?
In light of these new norms, many people have trouble navigating the dating scene and feel frustrated when their love life goes nowhere.
For those who are looking for a relationship — whether serious or casual, here are a few things you could do to ensure your dating goal is met:
Know what you want.
When people are getting less straightforward and more shady about their agenda, it’s easy to keep going on dates and slip into a situation that is set entirely on someone else’s terms or just simply doesn’t add any real value to your life.
To avoid getting caught up like that, you need to know what you want and keep it in mind every time you interact romantically with someone. What you want also has to be specific and measurable.
Saying “I want love” is not enough. Dig deeper into it. Ask yourself: How frequently do you want to communicate? How frequently do you want to meet up in person? Daily? Weekly? What type of dates do you prefer? What is your ideal level of intimacy? etc.
Set your own rules.
If you want to have phone calls, then pick up the phone. If you want to go on dinner dates, then don’t accept invites unless it happens at a restaurant. Don’t take any less. Tell people clearly and unapologetically what you prefer and stick to it. Whoever disagrees, they can jog on.
Likewise, if you don’t want to have sex before getting in a relationship, find someone who respects that and is happy to do the same. If you don’t like undefined situations, then don’t do things only people in a relationship would do until you are sure you’re in a relationship.
Your love life should work for you and benefit you. You don’t have to do something just because it seems like everyone else is doing it.
If you don’t like something, change it.
The bottom line: If you want something, say it. If you don’t like something change it. If you don’t know something, ask about it.
If your partner isn’t responsive to your request or question, it’s a clear sign they don’t really care about you and the relationship is not heading in the direction you want. You don’t lose anything by being authentic other than someone who is ultimately incompatible with you — Good riddance.
Be confident, believe in yourself, respect your boundaries, and hold on to your standards — you will find people who look for the same things as you do and treat you the way you deserve.