Dating as a Microcosm of the Current Human Condition
Updated: Jan 19, 2020
What a lonely planet we live on.
So many people yet so many people feeling alone.
Many people feel lonely yet do not know how to show love. Or be loved.
They are seeking love but do not recognize it when they see it.
They are seeking connection but run from it with the same determination.
They are seeking friendship yet treat others as if they are disposable.
Whatever happened to the Golden Rule?
What has happened in our society that has made people literally afraid of love and connection? A person will sooner make you feel crazy or misguided for loving them, than admit that they might care for you, too. They will accuse you of not really understanding the nature of love. They will tell you it's not love, but infatuation. They will you that you misread their (obvious) signs. They might unfriend you or block you. Or they will simply....disappear.
When did ghosting become an acceptable practice?
At what point did people decide that simply treating someone like they don't exist is better than talking to them? Social Media has a role to play in this new dating trend, no doubt.
Now, more that ever in my 39 years, am I hearing/reading/seeing so much advice about learning to
"BE YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER"
"DON'T WAIT FOR ANYONE TO DO IT FOR YOU"
"BE ONE WITH YOURSELF"
"YOU ARE ENOUGH ON YOUR OWN"
"WHO GIVES A CRAP WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS??"
Don't get me wrong. These are valuable and extremely important life lessons. We must all learn to love ourselves and be comfortable in our skin, yes. We must be comfortable being alone and getting things done alone, yes. But the last decade has been over-saturated with this message and it white washes a message that I feel should have been equally or more promoted; the idea of CONNECTION. The idea of "IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD". The idea of "MANY HANDS MAKE LIGHT WORK". The idea that GOD CREATED US FOR RELATIONSHIP. The idea that WE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE ALONE. The fact that the concept of self love is being so over-shared is, to me, a symptom of this current human condition; It's a survival skill. People are diseased with this idea that love, that connection, is something to fear, that it's too much work, and so we are just not connecting like we used to. And instead we should just focus on ourselves. But truly, there needs to be a balance between SELF LOVE and CONNECTION TO OTHERS.
Ironically, this is the INFORMATION AGE, where we can connect instantly with someone on the other side of the world, where we can make a trip in one day that used to take weeks, where we have access to everyone and everything at our fingertips, and social media. SOCIAL media. That has become an oxymoron, because I feel social media is actually decreasing our social skills and our attention spans. It's making people unsure of how to actually talk to people face-to-face, how to properly discuss feelings with words rather than emojis, how to delve deep into what we are truly feeling inside, and to stick something out even when it gets a little uncomfortable.
This is a fact that can be most clearly understood within the context of dating. I have heard and read many dating stories, and I have been in the dating world over the past year. I have experienced and heard of common themes in the dating trends of today. Despite the apparent connection that was felt, the ease with which they got along, the mutual attraction, they all ended in similar ways. As soon as there was mention of feelings, or "love", or if things went "too well", one of them ran. Here are some stories, not necessarily personal, to ponder and consider:
Following a lengthy and unusually strong connection, and a few intense intimate encounters, there was an admission of love from the girl. After avoiding her for weeks, he told her she didn't know what love is, that she somehow misunderstood her own feelings. People think love is something unattainable, out of reach. That you have to work very, very hard to somehow earn it, and so if someone offers it freely, it is suspicious and ingenuine. And perhaps they see love as too great a burden, or responsibility, to carry once you have it. "With great love comes great responsibility?" Do we have to be superheroes to love and be loved?
After connecting on a dating site, they spoke for 7 hours straight. 2 days later they had a 9 hour date that only got better as it went on. After she drove him home, he told her to text him when she got safely home, and when she thanked him for a great day, he said he had an amazing time, "from the moment we met to the moment you dropped me off". Pretty romantic, right? They continued chatting throughout the week, made plans for a second date, and then when the time came for said date, he was a no show. He stood her up. No replies to her texts asking him if he was alright. No follow up. Nothing. Only when she texted him a week later, asking kindly for an explanation, did he give a vague excuse that was clearly not the real one. And that was it. That was the end. What baffled her was that the date went "well". Confused friends simply said, "maybe he changed his mind?!". But who knowingly walks away after a first date that was so amazing, genuine, deep and soul-enriching that it might as well have been the 5th date?
When she told him she had feelings for him, he grew distant. He stepped back and said, "I suspected that was the case". When she asked him how he knew, he said, "because we were spending more time together, talking every day and telling each other personal things." When she told him she thought he had feelings for her, too, he asked her why she thought that. She said, "For the same reasons you did! Because we were spending more time together, talking every day and telling each other personal things." He suggested that maybe she misinterpreted his behavior. He saw what was a mutual growing together, as a singular person moving towards him. He did not even recognize his own steps that he took towards her! He was clearly projecting his feelings and not seeing them as his own.
There is a growing epidemic in our society; Fear of Love. Love is complicated. People don't really understand it. Everyone wants it, but also runs from it. People think they aren't worth it, try to rationalize it, realize they need it but push it away. Because with love comes pain. People don't want the pain that comes with love, but without love comes even greater suffering. It's kind of a double-edged sword that everyone admires but no one wants to hold. You have to be willing to put in the work (or the training) in order to be able to wield that double-edged sword. I fear that people are losing interest in gaining that skill; which, in my opinion, is the single most important life skill there is.