“See, everybody on the dating apps consistently talks about how much they hate the dating apps .And yet, most people are on them consistently!”
I read this in an article and immediately thought the writer hacked my phone for inspiration. It was my recent dating life summed up in a sentence. I never meet men organically. Maybe I give off some crazy woman vibe or seem unapproachable? I’m not shy or horrible to look at so I’ve never understood my inability to catch a date the “old fashioned way”. No matter the reason, my love life had been reduced to dating apps and DMs. Slide in my messages with a good beard and I just might consider your potential.
The problem is the majority of the messages I receive, no matter what platform, are from what we millennials call “fuck boys”. Example you ask? I just recently received a message where a man told my poetry was great immediately followed with messages about how tasty I look. This was the bulk of my online experience. You really start to wonder if there is something wrong with you to attract such foolery and still be single despite your yearning desire to find someone to build with. Online dating wasn’t working for me. My best friend jokes often “swiper no swiping.”..But still I swipe…
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think dating apps are the destruction of love as we knew it. I think they’re excellent tools for us busy, plugged in millennials. I believe dating is hard for this generation no matter how you go about it. And the fore mentioned classless approach happens in person too. Every conversation I have with my single millennial counter parts is a negative one. “Women don’t want a good man”. “All these men ain’t shit.” So where the hell did we go wrong?
First, I want you to understand I am not blaming men. Our dating culture is a generational problem, not one exclusive to either sex. We collectively have made it harder.
We millennials lack commitment, in every area. We don’t stay at jobs or live at the same address as long as older generations. I see the same trend in dating. We put our feet in the water to test the temperature but never dive in. I often see people, and have been guilty of, spending entirely too much time “talking” to someone but never progressing.
Even for someone like me, who sincerely wants something serious, its easy to get sucked into the “lets keep it casual” trend. In the midst of our sex positive hookup culture, people have sex first and figure out if they like each other later. No. Big. Deal. Right? But expectations are rarely discussed or they shift and people remain silent. If they speak up and their partner doesn’t want to move forward they deal with it because living in the limbo of “maybe I want you, maybe not” is your best shot at evading singleness (Yes saints, this is a problem that even us Christian millennials face. Church folk are no better at dating, I assure you. I spent years dateless and celibate only to get sucked right back into this as soon as I put myself out there again. And yes, with men who were church folk too.) The fear becomes voicing your desire for commitment too soon means you’re dying alone with your fifteen cats as a result of expecting too much.
The worst part about it is that woman are still labeled hoes or “not wife material” for participating in the hookup culture that men’s over sexualization has been creating for generations. And women think all men want is sex because they freely give it without demanding more. It’s a cycle.
I believe a contributing factor is our seemingly endless potential romantic partners. People claim to want loyalty, trust, faithfulness and a slew of other marital qualities. Sometimes we come across people who possess just that. But when one flaw seems to stick out like a weed in a bed of roses, we go looking for another flower. After all, there are thousands of them only a swipe away. In our constant search for the next best thing, hearts are broken and people are left bruised.
The result is a generation of men and women pointing the finger at each other screaming “YOU AIN’T SHIT” instead of acknowledging how our own false expectations, lack of communication and personal faults contributed to the downfall of our relationships. People lack accountability in our dating culture. So much so that sometimes they disappear without so much as an explanation. Which brings me to our next problem: ghosting.
Its not a new thing but it is a millennial phenomenon. I used to think rejection hurts worse when it’s face to face than through a screen. Truth is rejections sucks no matter what. When you feel like you’re vibing with someone then communication ceases and texts go ignored it’s natural to wonder why. Even if the situation was mutually casual, you’re left feeling like “well damn” at the very least. Being silent is enough to convey your lack of interest, so words aren’t necessary right? I think they are. No one wants to be left feeling like they weren’t even worthy of an answer. Yet, I’m guilty of ghosting. Because that’s just how you do it now days, right?
In my attempts to understand our dating culture, I sought out the opinions of some other millennials. What better input than from some of the very men who I had personally encountered.
Needless to say a few of them simply didn’t respond when I asked them to participate.
I reached out to a gentleman (with an amazingly perfect beard and some pretty legit waves by the way) I met on match years ago. We had stopped and started communication several times without ever meeting. His immediate response was “is this some ‘he ain’t shit’ can I pick his brain kind of thing? Is that not confirmation we have a problem of pointing fingers? I explained I was just curious about his perspective on dating. He ended up asking me what I thought happened between us. I told him his lack of communication made me assume he wasn’t interested so I faded too.. He never answered the questions I asked him, but he did invite me to dinner, “if the energy felt right”. (Dipping the toe?) Other than a couple responses to some flirty snaps I sent him, nothing.
There was another man I’d met on match who I went on one date with. Prior to our date we seemed to have great conversation and he was really attractive. That date was mediocre but I wasn’t opposed to another. I never heard from him again. I asked why he never text me again. His response, “you didn’t text me either”. Touché
The last guy who responded to my inquiry was my most recent (or maybe current?) fling. I met him on Tinder. After a week or so of texting, conversation began to die out. I am a firm believer that a man who is interested in you will show you with his time and conversation. I hadn’t had either of his so I assumed he wasn’t that into me. But I was into him his beard and muscles, so I figured why not. I text him, fully aware this was probably about to be just a hookup. And we did, several times. Then there were no further attempts to hang out and my last few texts, for the most part, went ignored. My question to him was “why not just tell me you weren’t interested in me…or hooking up…instead of kind of..ghosting?” He in turned asked me would by blog discuss how people don’t communicate what they are thinking and let time go past before asking questions based on assumptions as I had just done. Fair enough.
But it gets more interesting. He agreed to read the draft of this blog. He did and agreed dating is difficult, but never gave me an explanation as to why he thought that. And while he assured me he’d get back to me, the next time I heard from him was a request for me to come over. I decided to take my own advice and speak up. I definitely help create and was enjoying our casual relationship, so I wasn’t mad about it. But I wasn’t opposed to getting to know him deeper than the confines of “Netflix and chill”. So I told him that. A statement to which he averted with an indefinite response. If I asked him, I’m sure he’ll tell you I’m just assuming he isn’t interested. But here is my question:
For him and all the other encounters I mentioned, how long do you let a lack of initiative go unnoticed before you cut your losses and let it go? How long before you just accept someone really isn’t that into you?
So my single millennials: I am not sure my little experiment resulted in any quick fix to dating whoas, what I’ve decided is that dating doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. There really are plenty of amazing women and men out here. So here are a few key points to help navigate our dating culture:
Voice your expectations. Express what you are thinking. You’ll never get anywhere if you keep pursuing (or not pursuing) based on assumptions to unasked questions. Stop being afraid to speak up. You want sex. Say it. Marriage say it. Friendship. Say it. And then let your actions match your words.
Don’t be afraid to dive in sometimes. That “seemingly endless” pool of potential I mentioned? Remember its true that the grass isn’t always greener. But if your requirements don’t seem match up with the person you are involved with, don’t feel obligated to conform. Your standards are your own and you have every right to them. If it didn’t work out with someone, whether it was one conversation, one date or one year of love, don’t be afraid to ask them why. I did. I may not have gotten any solid answers, but that alone is enough for me to decide I’m ok with my belief that “actions speak louder than words.” So ask and learn from it. Self evaluate, and grow.
And most importantly, don’t take it personal. KNOW YOUR WORTH. Dating is scary sometimes. It results in frustration and heartache. But someone not wanting to move forward doesn’t mean you aren’t a kick ass rockstar worthy of love. No matter what happens, remember you’re always worth the risk.