This past Friday night I got talking with a friend about how excited I am for an upcoming vacation to Cuba with my husband. Naturally, I expected him to be excited for me and give me some advice on things to see, but instead it struck a surprisingly different chord with him.
He started talking about how he’s been traveling so much on his own and how much he’d love to be able to go somewhere and share the experience with someone. We both agreed that sometimes it is nice to travel alone but there are some places and some times, like Valentine’s Day and special occasions, that it’s nice to be with someone you love.
This lead to a discussion I can’t seem to have enough of lately which is why it feels like it’s getting harder and harder to find love.
Some say everyone’s standards are too high, others say the Internet is to blame for our lack of integrity and ability to dismiss possible connections with a ‘swipe’. There’s also the common belief that generation x and millennials are lost when it comes to love because many of them are children of divorce and the fear of getting into a relationship is clouded by the possibilities of where it inevitably leads.
I have a lot of friends who are trying or have tried online dating, some successful, others not. I hear so much frustration with finding people online to begin with and then being disappointed when meeting face-to-face.
I hear a lot of confusion about this hook-up culture we’ve created, where we get together ‘for the moment’ (if you know what I mean…), but nothing more is expected or considered.
Not only that but sexuality and gender roles are in flux and being experimented with and explored. Not only could this be confusing for potential partners but even to ourselves, becuase it can put us in an unbalanced and unconfident place – not the greatest head space to be in when trying to find an ideal partner.
What we do know is that it never comes down to one thing. There’s no one thing or one group of people to blame for what dating is like in the 21st century.
And let me remind you that it’s especially unfair to only blame ourselves for not having found the right person yet. But it’s equally unfair to say that it is everyone else and not you. We’ve all contributed to this and if we don’t step it up or change the behaviour ourselves, we have no right to complain.
Not being out there and experiencing it all myself, I certainly would never look you in the face and say that “Just give it time for the right person find you,” or some other positive outlook crap – and I hope you aren’t saying this to your frustrated friends either – it’s condescending and terribly unhelpful advice in every way imaginable.
I may not be in the trenches but I certainly hear and feel this pain that’s everywhere I was heartbroken to look into my friend’s eyes across the table as he describes how sad he feels when he comes home and there’s no one there to greet him.
But I gave him my hand and I shut my mouth. I just listened, every once in a while reminding him to not be so hard on himself.
None of us can deny that the rules of dating have changed. No more are we taking as many chances with asking someone to go out in a face to face situation – that’s what texting is for, right? But are we losing our nerve?
If the world was only filled with Matthew McConugheys and Sandra Bullocks, maybe we’d all catch each others’ eyes easily and swoosh our hair behind our ear as ‘the signal’. But to catch someone’s eye nowadays we have to cut through a lot of noise and so it takes patience and maybe a little more creativity.
We have to find a creative way to make him or her look up from the smartphone.
We have to dare to interrupt him even if he’s got earbuds in.
We may have to let our guard down a little more so that she sees you’re not ALL about your bros, ironic beards and craft brews.
And let’s not let technology rob us further by being the focus of your date. Turn off your phone and turn up the charm. Give him or her your attention – phone is not only off, it’s away and out of sight. I can’t promise your date will follow suit but at least you’re setting your standards. If all else fails, you could point out how much nicer it is to have your phone off so you two can really chat.
Take risks. In the online dating world, people are answering a lot of the same ‘getting to know you’ questions. While these are great and small talk is necessary before you go for the intense questions about your parenting style, there are still ways to make things more interesting.
Where are you from? (good)
Where’s your favourite place in the city? (better)
What are your hobbies? (good…ish)
What’s the next thing you’re going to cross off your bucket list ?(getting better)
Do you have any brothers or sisters? (ugh!)
Do you have a weird family too? What are some of your family traditions?
(You can use this one after the delightful anecdote of your crazy uncle and what happened at last year’s Christmas in July barbecue).
I personally think that the best advice in all of this is that you have to roll with the times. Smartphones, Online Dating and a general unease in the romantic world are part of our lives now. Knowing this, we have to find ways to get a little creative to push out the fog and the noise that can cloud people’s judgments.
We also have to remember that in real life we deal with more frustration in dating than we see between lovers on TV or in movies.
We may also have to deal with the fact that we may not get married by the age we always thought.
But the one great thing about things being in flux is that we can refine a lot of the crap that wasn’t really working anyway. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that dating was any easier twenty or thirty years ago. Back then, meeting someone in a bar or at work were really the only two options. At least we have the entire world at our fingertips!
And if you’re sick of travelling alone? Well, there’s an app for that.
So, yes, I’ll be taking an ‘off the grid’ hiatus this week but I’ll have space for new clients starting February 26th. If you’d like to have a chat about where you’re heading this year, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject line : COACHING 2017
Go to ashewoodward.com for more info