First of all, can everyone just not with the articles about modern dating being a shit-show? Although oftentimes true, I get it, it’s not the way it once was, just like lots of things aren’t the way they once were. Times have changed, people are more sexually liberated, women aren’t property, fleek is an actual word in the actual dictionary… so, it’s not helpful to continuously recite a narrative of “modern dating” being worse than the past and scapegoated as this vague idea we can blame all of our problems on. Yeah, sometimes it sucks for lots of reasons. So can we move onto the next step in the process after awareness? Taking accountability and changing it? The modus operandi of dating is our responsibility to construct, as we are all contributors to it. It’s not modern dating that is at fault, it’s us, with our staunch unwillingness to be vulnerable with each other and to assert our needs and desires.
Our insecure need to be liked, accepted, validated, and instantly gratified prevents us from telling another person that we really want flowers, or we’d love to go on a date that isn’t just hitting up happy hour together so that we can give an awkward blow job in their car, or that we lost interest in them, or that we prefer to be called on the phone, or that the sex was too rough, or that it wasn’t rough enough, or that we actually love Bey and we were disappointed when they talked shit about Lemonade, or that it hurt our feelings when they said the new Game of Thrones episode wasn’t fire, or that we’d actually like to commit.
Why the fuck do we put this immense pressure on each other to read minds and intuitively decipher someone else’s thoughts? That’s not fair. And not only is it proving to be enormously ineffective, it’s presumptuous and it continues to alienate us. How is someone supposed to know that we want space, or to simply be listened to, or that we want to Netflix and actual chill, or really want those Hamilton the Musical tickets for our birthday, if we don’t tell them? And then we become resentful that they didn’t know and we stonewall them for not being psychic… that doesn’t even make sense! I get it, Disney movies and too many unrealistic 90’s rom-coms have poisoned our minds and conditioned us to believe that men show up in the parking lot with the Fender Strat we wanted when they make a mistake, or build us a house on a lake after writing us 365 letters in a row, but that’s just not real life. Or, if this has been your experience, you are either the luckiest woman alive and never letting him go or you are looking further into a restraining order.
We’re all trying to learn how to relate; to navigate a dating world where women have become more independent, traditional gender roles seem blurry, and technological advances are ubiquitous. So, can we cut each other some slack? We all hate it, yet we all participate in it. I refuse to believe that certain social contracts we’ve developed are impervious to change, particularly this one, as civilization would never have evolved if that was the case. Otherwise, I must resign myself to a sad future of cat-lady-ism.
I’m disappointed in this watered-down, detached, lack of connectedness that we all have so much to say about, yet don’t address. I’m curious about why these articles are even being written if everyone feels the same way. Why isn’t John already dating Sarah who just wrote variations of the exact same article on modern dating? Is it really that difficult to just be honest with another person and to just cut through the superficial bullshit long enough to start a five minute social commentary?
Assertiveness is often learned, and I imagine the majority of people don’t know what it looks like, let alone how to apply it. This is one of the reasons we remain in this dating purgatory, unwilling to have the uncomfortable conversations necessary for the development of intimacy. I know that it’s really scary to be vulnerable and to hold the space necessary for someone to share their feelings with us, and perhaps even more frightening to be secure enough in who we are to trust someone with our inner-dialogue, and suck it up and do it.
The ways in which we can begin to change this is by focusing on what is inside of our control. Here’s some ideas.
1. Be honest with yourself and others about what your expectations are in a relationship. Be explicit about whether or not you want one. Like, “Hey, I don’t want a relationship, now or ever, no matter how many times we sleep together, or how much you love the Golden State Warriors, or how cool your friends are, or how many times we road trip, or how many things you put in my butt.”
2. Respect each other’s boundaries. When someone tells you they’re not okay with your use of the word, “bitch,” or they don’t ever want kids, or that they feel uncomfortable with you chatting it up with your ex, respect that and take them at face value. Or, find someone who wants children, is okay with your bitch proclamations, and doesn’t mind your ex around, rather than hope they’ll eventually change their mind, then get mad at them when they don’t.
3. Put effort into showing someone else that you want to spend time with them and that you listen to them when they speak. Remember things. Pick up the phone and actually call them. Don’t make plans and then flake at the last minute.
4. Don’t objectify anyone. Everyone is complex, whether they’re willing to show it to you or not, so don’t use them for sex, unless that’s your agreement (though I wouldn’t suggest this).
5. Don’t be a fuckboy (or girl) and lead someone on for your own ego, selfishness, or fear of losing them. Tell them the truth when you feel a shift within the relationship or when they’re starting to express more interest than you can reciprocate.
6. Keep being brave and vulnerable even if it means getting burned once, or twice, or twelve times. Don’t stop putting yourself out there, just learn to use more discretion.
7. Love yourself enough to leave when things start to get distant, rather than settling for someone who keeps you in a relationship purgatory. Muster the courage to be alone and end it if they do. Don’t settle for someone’s uncertain maybes and I guess so’s.
8. Watch some indie-films or something and help manage your expectations.
9. Recognize that it’s okay to have some expectations, like, “my next partner can’t be a drug addict,” or, “this person I like can’t cheat on me,” or, “my next partner won’t be a sociopath.”
10. Love yourself, find hobbies and passions, be okay with being alone, and do things that aren’t putting it on every other person to fix this problem that we all contribute to.
And to the ones willing to put themselves out there, you deserve a medal. Genuinely, you are the ones who will lead the way by being brave enough to face the fear of rejection with courage and to unapologetically speak your truth to a world that isn’t always receptive. Keep doing that. We need more of you.
Latest posts by Shannon Mitchell (see all)
- Why We Should Thank The People Who Broke Our Heart - August 2, 2016
- In the Aftermath of Orlando’s Tragedy, Blame is Not the Solution - June 21, 2016
- It’s Not Modern Dating’s Fault, It’s Ours - May 24, 2016