Looking For Love? Bad News – Nobody Dates To Be In Relationships Anymore
Dating has always been a tiring task but dating in the age of social media and dating apps? It’s even worse. But dating with all of these factors post pandemic? You might as well pack up and leave.
Situationships have become the norm now. If you look at the dating culture about a decade ago, it was very different. Casual relationships were prevalent, but that didn’t mean that regular relationships had no shot.
People put genuine effort into knowing the other person and wanting to see where the connection went. There was no expectation to be casual/seeing different people from the get go.
But today, it feels like every single person is expected to just assume that the person you’re on a date with is not looking for anything serious or is seeing three other people besides you.
And if you haven’t been on the dating scene for the last few years (be it because you were in a long term relationship, weren’t looking to date, etc.), it can seriously throw you off.
And according to those out on the frontline of dating, it feels less and less like people are looking for love.
For Angel Martinez, dating feels at its most ‘disposable’: “The modern dating landscape is a far cry from what I thought finding someone would look like. I have friends actively looking for partners right now and based on their rants to me, everyone just seems so disposable to one another. It’s really common to hear about people getting rid of options over really inconsequential icks or behaving as if their actions have no real-world consequences in others’ lives.”
Sarina Kastendiek agrees that people are using casual dating recklessly: “My main problem with casual dating is that a lot of men use it as an excuse for poor communication, not having to commit and keeping their doors open.
“Casual dating can work if both sides are on the same page - I don’t oppose the concept of casual dating in general. But from my own experience and that of my friends, I think guys often pressure and gaslight women into going along with ‘casual dating’ and make us feel like we want something unfeasible, weird or undesirable.”
In the post pandemic world, everyone is trying to make the most of their freedom after being locked down for so long. And that has been reflected in modern dating as well.
People are more relaxed, more casual about dating. They now have so many options that they refuse to put all their eggs in one basket. And it has made dating increasingly difficult for people who simply do not do casual relationships. They feel pressured into trying to date multiple people too, even if it is not something they’re comfortable with.
“At one point last year, I felt like I had to go on at least one or two different dates a week. Sure, part of it was because I longed for male attention and external validation as a post-break-up reaction, but also because ‘it’s what everyone is doing’,” says Sarina.
“Sometimes I wish I could be that relaxed about dating and enjoy going on all those dates, meeting and seeing different men. But I am not, that’s not me. I am still on a journey to accept that and be comfortable enough to stand up for myself and my boundaries and needs,” she adds.
“The thing that rarely gets talked about is that people who don’t want to casually date often get blamed for not wanting to do so. Not everyone wants to date casually despite increasing pressure to do so,” says Audrey Hutabarat, who has been through her fair share of casual dates that lead nowhere.
But why has dating become so casual? Why have situationships become the new norm?
According to journalist and sexologist Emilie Lavinia, people are confusing casual dating with not taking any personal responsibility for someone else’s emotions.
She says: “From my perspective, casual dating means dating for fun and often for physical intimacy with no intention to get into a committed relationship. However, I’ve met plenty of people for whom ‘casual’ means no accountability, no empathy and no effort. Which is where I think the problem lies.”
And dating apps themselves aren’t helping. Jessica Alderson, relationship expert at So Syncd explains that pre-dating app era, it just wasn’t possible to meet enough people all at once to date more than one person at a time. Now with dating apps we can swipe through hundreds of potential dates in the space of an evening.
“Ultimately, this is positive because we are more likely to end up in relationships that are actually right for us. But it’s also important to find a balance and be prepared to put in the effort when you find someone who you are compatible with. Relationships require work, and it won’t benefit you in the long-term if you end things as soon as you have to make a small compromise or work through a minor conflict,” she adds.
The pandemic has also had an impact on the way people date today. While on one hand, it has made people resolute in finding deeper, more meaningful connections. On the other hand, it has made people less likely to commit to just one person.
“We see the world as more unstable than we did before and we view our time and ability to do things that we want to do as more fragile as well. This means we are less likely to commit to one person and risk a sunken time investment in the “wrong” person, so things have become more casual,’ says Jennifer Klesman, a licensed therapist at Cityscape Counseling.
So what can someone do if they’re not comfortable with casually dating?
“I think we need to be open minded to the idea that we all have a choice. I’d much rather someone was up front with me about their dating goals than lying about wanting a long term girlfriend that leads to marriage when that’s not at all what they want. The most important thing when you’re dating is to treat others with respect and kindness and to be honest. Apps deplete our ability to empathise and we need to be really mindful of this,” says Emilie.
And if casual dating isn’t your thing, it’s important to be honest about it. The right person won’t be scared off by your intentions and it’ll save you from wasting your time on someone who is not on the same page as you.
“If your date isn’t looking for a relationship, it’s important to respect that it’s their decision rather than pressuring them into something they don’t want,” says Jessica.
However, the one thing you should never do is force yourself into doing something that you’re not comfortable doing.
“You should never force yourself to date multiple people at once or do anything that feels uncomfortable to you. However, if you aren’t dating other people, you should be mindful about over investing in one person too soon. Make sure to keep your life full and take time for yourself,” she adds.