The real reason why today's relationships don't last.
He's the problem, she's the problem, and so are you.
The vast majority of men and women today in their 20's and early 30's all seem to have the same one complaint in common. Regardless of the gender differences that we all seem to believe to make dating and relationship's so "complicated", we can agree that modern dating is less than pleasant or easy. Modern technology and the impersonal communication that is social media seems to be the foundation of this inherent state that stems from the same resources that make us progressive, more efficient, and more successful than the cohort's before us.
It's not the digital age itself that is to blame, it's the the lack of attention to detail that we have acquired because of it. It's the grass is greener mindset that the majority of us fall victim to. It's the million's of pieces of information, unsolicited dating advice, negative tweets about the opposite sex, and overall dissatisfaction with one another that has tainted the whole experience of meeting someone and being able to organically and wholesomely fall in love.
This isn't to say it's an impossible task to have a successful dating life. I find myself extremely lucky and blessed to be in relationship with someone I genuinely connect with. To be in a healthy relationship is truly a breath of fresh air, but realistically it was the lack of digital communication and modern influence that allowed my relationship to thrive and become what it is. Trying to get to know men that I met online before I was with my fiancé was absolutely top 5 on my list of absolutely terrible experiences.
My single friends (both men and women) complain about the same issues. Modern dating is made up of likes, follows, and failed "talking stages". If you're a millennial or gen-z dating in 2021 you know exactly what that means. There is way more people texting for weeks on end and forgetting about each other than people really linking up in person and making a solid effort to give someone their time.
The optimist and relationship oriented person that I am would like to believe that if we were able to recognize our plight we could all do the real work and make strides to be better daters and romantic partners. When I tell people that I am studying intimacy and sexology the conversation eventually takes a turn where I am being asked my opinion of what dating today looks like. Then somewhere after that analysis it inevitably turns into a conversation about the flaws of men and women, but I don’t find this to be just the fault of one sex or the other.
Just the other day this was the exact circumstance with a mutual that I ran into at the bowling alley with my friends. He talked about the drama that came with dating and how impersonal all of his relations easily became. His complaint's were no different than the one's I hear when I get together with my closest friends and discuss all the funny but terrible dating experiences we've had. Here's what I have observed so far:
1. It's NOT normal that we see over a thousand different beautiful faces online every day.
However it is pretty cool and amazing, and who doesn't love beautiful people? However, our parent's and grandparent's weren't running into a thousand attractive faces and bodies every single day. At most depending on where they were on a good day, they saw 5-10 people they were attracted to and there wasn't a whole digital culture based on looks and social validation. Some men and women I know don't even realize they aren't dating the person they found on instagram or twitter...they're dating their profile.
They are literally dating an image and a version of the person they see on their time line. They are dating with the purpose of showing their friends "this is who I'm talking to, and this is all the likes and attention they rack up". It's blinding and social media is the furthest thing from the real essence of a person. We're dating facetuned photo's and digital alter ego's and a lot of us wind up disappointed in the end.
2. Men are dating women's bodies, and women are dating their wallets.
You could definitely throw this into a subcategory to my first point, because social media eggs on the concept of women being trophies and men being meal tickets. When we are dating solely for physical attraction to show someone off we are missing who the person actually is. A lot of men finding themselves dating women who look good, but don't have much else to offer. Women find they are dating men who are amazing gift givers, vacation sponsors, and a reliable resource to pay all of their bills but there is no love, intimacy, or real affection to be found.
But as long as you're being taken care of right? Wrong. That's not being taken care of at all. We're telling each other online to expect more and stop dating men who don't do, buy, or give us whatever we desire..but where did our self esteem fall so low that we decided to overlook the other acts of love that aid in taking care of our needs too? Who said it all stops at gift giving? We find ourselves in controlling, loveless, shallow relationships, which is always a recipe for disaster. Who said feeling safe, wanted, and truly valued isn't the "more" we should be asking for?
3. We aren’t realistic about our expectations.
I think a majority of us were all exposed to fabricated movies and tv shows that gave us unrealistic takes on love. We expect things that don’t happen in real life with real people whom are flawed and healing just like the rest of us. We expect perfect rather than requiring what’s real and honest. We too often want someone to be our “everything” and sole source of happiness and companionship rather than being our own provider and advocate of our needs. We expect someone to provide everything that we desire and crave and while expecting all of these things and focusing our relationships on what WE need we aren’t even stopping to ask ourselves if we can proved the things we are asking of someone else. We don’t stop to ask “Am I actually being a good partner?”.
4. We think we shouldn’t have to “teach” someone how to treat us.
I think this one has to come from the biggest place of arrogance and ego, that all of us reach a time or two in our lifetime. As much as it sounds so crazy, no one person comes with an instruction manual. I’m not saying that basic respect and consideration needs to be taught. I would throw those under the category of deal breakers. However, many dynamics of being in relationship require telling your partner or potential partner how you like/need to be treated. The way you want to be loved, the type of time you require, and the type of commitment you want. They are all things that need to be discussed. This is why being the provider and advocate of your own needs is so important.
5.Our relationships lack intention.
We go into relationships not knowing what we want out of it. More than just wanting the person you should have a goal in mind for the relationship or a purpose behind it just like you would anything else. Do you want to travel the world with this person? Do you want a companion who enjoys being a homebody? Do you want a family with this person? Do you want to share spirituality with this person? Do you want to be business partners with this person? Ask yourself what you are looking to be in relationship for, and it will help you to weed out the kind of people and exchanges that you don’t want. When a clear vision is in mind you waste less time on what isn’t important to you. Asking someone else these questions will also allow you to know if what they want is in alignment with what you see for yourself and your life.
6. The roles in relationships have been blurred by liberalism.
We live in an intersectional world where all of our identities matter and should be acknowledge in a way that allows us to feel safe and accurately seen. However, the two energies of the world are masculine and feminine. In relationship (no matter who takes on what roles), what is the desired energy and role you will play in a life shared together is an important thing to discuss. There are women who are a lot more masculine and enjoy that role. There are men with more feminine attributes and prefer that role. There are individuals who identify with neither but desire to place those energies in specific areas of their relationships. These are all important and it is important for our partners to know what we require in order to be safe and comfortable in the relationship. We need to be having those conversations to avoid dating someone providing an energy opposite of what you align with.
7. We aren’t dating people who offer things that are irreplaceable
Everyone values different things. However, what we place importance on is important to our hearts and mental health. While certain attributes like looks and financial perks look great on paper they mean nothing because they can be easily replaced. When you whole heartedly love someone in a healthy way, that love comes from that person offering something to your life that can’t be easily replaced. Maybe they add peace to your chaos or they make you feel safe in a way no one else ever has before.
Depending on what matters most to you, this is the glue that holds you together when all else fails and seems questionable during rough times. This is what makes the foundation of a relationship solid. Having someone in your life who is authentic and of value for more than just what they can do for you tangibly. That is what makes the hard times in a relationship worth working through. All in all, in a culture where we all glorify being toxic and having fickle feelings, it is quite easy to tell that when all of these things are stripped down to their core there is a deep fear of intimacy and vulnerability.
There is a fear of showing up and giving your all because it could go terribly wrong. But as you can see, whilst on your 43rd failed talking stage, is that in the midst of trying to be cool and aloof you’ve already had things go terribly wrong. So have the hard conversations, ask the things you want to know, and show people who you really are anyway. Let those who align with you rise to meet you where you are, or allow them to exit stage left because you’re on a different path and that's okay too. Those will always be the only two options there ever is. BUT, when you exercise them properly you weed out what you don’t want much faster. Then, at the very least, you will find yourself in the foreseeable realm of what and who you really want.
Most importantly, pour into the most intimate relationship with yourself so that what you want for yourself is no longer a question, but rather a strong bold statement that you would never be willing to waver or settle on. Now go ahead, dust yourself off, and try again! And again...and again. Fail until you win and know that it is not YOU who is ever the failure, it is only your lack of discernment and lack of self awareness which can always be improved.