Read On to Find Out the Paradox of Dating Today…
So it is the New Year. You will go to yoga, you will pay your bills before they’re due, you will give this dating thing a real chance.
Yet, here’s a newsflash for everyone: Sometimes we imbue dating with so much more meaning than it should have! Because if someone texts, it means you’re good enough. If someone calls, it means there is excitement in your life. If you match, it means that you’re attractive in the eye of the general public.
It is ironic that we live in a culture that treats dating more casually than ever. Yet that same culture is fraught with anxiety and uncertainty. Often in the midst of the stress of modern life, we turn to romance as though it were a kind of guilty pleasure, or as though it were a floating life raft. It seems ironic to me that while we like to pretend to take a cynical stance on dating and pretend that we didn’t actually think we would meet someone on Tinder, we are also more desperate than ever to make this dating thing mean more than it should.
How can something not really matter, and yet at the same time matter all too much? It is a contradiction and yet the paradox seems to me to capture our modern dating mores. Everybody is cynical about meeting that someone special yet everybody makes not meeting that someone special into a bigger and more catastrophic deal than it really should be.
The funny thing about cupid’s arrow (even the online version) is that before you were hit, you were bumbling along pretty happily in your life. You had your routines, you had your ambitions, you had friends. But let that arrow so much as graze your heart, and suddenly it rips a hole that results in a feeling of emptiness in your life, except in those parts of your life that relate to that special someone. You know what I mean.
But exactly who is this special someone? What happened to life being perfectly satisfying without anyone special being on the horizon?
Let me tell you that the person you are infatuated with, the person who symbolizes something so seemingly crucial to your very identity, has very little little to do with the fantasy in your head. Let’s talk about the perfect mate in your head. The person in your head is no one. This magical person in your head is not the girl you’re currently flirting with online or the guy you’ve started to “see.” This rare princess or white knight is nothing more than your personal conjuring up of the things which are supposed to address what you feel to be missing in your own life. The extent of our obsession with people we barely know directly correlates to how much we actually feel like something is missing in our lives. But they cannot fill the emptiness. Only you can.
I am not saying that we should be enlightened, self-reliant hermits. Personally, I feel that dating should matter less so that we can instead have a chance to truly love. Instead of pretending to be cynical, instead of pretending that we truly believe it to be a numbers game, instead of believing that meeting the right person will fix everything, we should first learn to love ourselves. We should be wiser about exactly what romance can or cannot change in our lives. We should be honest about what a special someone can actually bring into our lives. We should feel beautiful in front of that mirror without anyone looking at us. Perhaps if we didn’t place the burden for every potential mate we meet to be “our cure” (the cure from the anxiety and nervousness of modern life), we would be able to take them for who they are. We would not demand from them what they cannot give. We would stand a chance of actually knowing a person and not an image of a life.
(Also see “Crippled Kittens and Other Imperfect Things“)
The way modern technology makes dating available at the tip of our fingertips has done more harm than good. Dating should not be so ubiquitous, so in-your-face, so lauded in neon lights. Dating should matter less–so that we can learn to love ourselves and take the fantasy off center stage.
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