More often than not when dating, we tend to blame the other person when it ends, but what if it isn't always the other person but the society we live in? The 21st century is probably the worst and hardest time for dating out of any era yet, but then I'm quite sure every era before us says the same thing. There's one major difference though, they didn't have technology. Long gone are the days of courtships and ‘going steady’. Arriving at the door with flowers has been swapped for a “here” message and for some ridiculous reason we seem fine with that.
To be a contender in the dating game of today is kind of like being in the movie SAW, minus the blood and guts. It’s like you wake up one day with a voice in your head saying “Do you want to play a game?”, but that's a rhetorical question because you have no choice in the matter. You have to play the dating game or on some level, ‘die’ trying.
There are no guidelines or rule books for dating and yet we all know what has to be done. You must play games. You've got to lie. You must be unavailable. No matter how much you care, you can’t show it because caring is a turn off. You have to date multiple people because everything is cooler when it's ‘casual’. True romantics are weak; you've got to resist everything that comes easily to you. All to be a part of a game you may not even want to play. Not only are there numerous rules you have to follow, you also find yourself monitoring every little movement of the person you're interested in or used to be interested in. You know they went away to Spain in 2008 and now you're left wondering who they have their arm around in their profile picture from last May.
The fear of rejection is at its highest when social media comes into play. You go from Facebook to Whatsapp to other forms of communication and now you can see they've been online, so why haven’t they replied? Not only has 21st century dating turned us into creeps, we are now more self obsessed than ever. Never mind what everyone else looks like, what about our own image? How attractive is that picture really? Are my likes cool? My filters obscure enough?
It's when you finally get to the messaging part when things are starting out that it almost feels like a first date in itself. Trying to hold conversations over messages while multitasking things like trying to make yourself sound as appealing as possible and trying to find out more about them that social media hasn't already told you.
Even if you do look good and venture out from behind a screen, you’ll need that Dutch courage. Whether it's to approach that person you've being making eyes at all night, (heaven forbid you'd have to have the first interaction sober), or going on first dates where “let’s just meet for drinks” seems like a perfectly good plan. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but it's definitely not a good thing either and alcohol seems to be a fundamental crutch in having the ability to show the best version of yourself off to the world.
One of the more difficult parts of dating is actually defining the word dating. Everyone seems to have a different opinion of what actually classifies dating. You can, after all, be partaking in non date dates and non relationship relationships. A very common term used in the dating world in this day in age is a ‘situationship’: Meaning it looks like a relationship, smells like a relationship, but isn’t a relationship.
And not to mention, there are so many different stages to add to this confusion. It starts with potential social media stalking, which leads onto messaging, to arranging to meet, to going on dates, to sex, to-maybe if you're lucky-the relationship stage, or you could be dumped over text.
You could be seeing someone exclusively for months and when you go to DTR (define the relationship) they can turn to you in absolute bewilderment and say something like “you knew this was casual”.
We all have that one friend who has no problem pulling on a night out and plays the game like it's an Olympic sport. I was talking to a friend who we always tease for being that guy. I originally thought he'd be great to interview because he's always going on dates and leading girls on, but he confessed that he'd love a relationship and something serious just as much as the next person. He did a great job of describing how he felt 21st century dating: Tedious. Fake. Slutty.
“It's really annoying because I keep turning back to apps like Tinder and I have found it to work in the past. I've got over 200 matches but only a handful of dates out of it and it never seems to last, yet I keep going back in the hopes of being one of those success stories you hear about.”
And yes, there are people who have been unaffected by the woes of dating in this day and age. Most of whom are in long term committed relationships and to them, the idea of Tinder or Plenty of Fish is a foreign concept. You guys have no idea how difficult us singletons really have it....