Dating In The Age of Instant Gratification: Part Two
Today’s world is one in which most things are at our finger-tips. Add to this the daily onslaught of perfect looking people with seemingly blissful and picturesque lives which flood our screens on a daily basis, and we not only have a recipe for endless dissatisfaction and zero contentment, but also a VIP invitation for the green-eyed monster to take permanent residence in our homes. And whoever heard of the green-eyed monster finding a happy forever after??
Warning – this article may cause some discomfort.
Before the rise of online dating sites, the most popular and reliable manner in which to meet new people was via introductions – family, friends, and work mates etc. The reason being that we used to appreciate the safety and reliability of being introduced to people that those close to us could vouch for. But over the years our search for independence and freedom has led to an innate desire to meet individuals outside of our network. Not only does it enable us to widen our horizons but it also gives us more leeway to charter our own destiny, so to speak. Rather than being content with the safety of our own network we yearn for the limitless options a wider reach provides. Some would say it’s because it means less pressure to make things work, whilst other more cynical observers might view it as an excuse for promiscuous individuals to sleep around without interference or judgment from those close to them.
According to the stats of a research study carried out by Psychology Today, one in five relationships begin online nowadays; and it is estimated that by 2040, 70% of us will have met our significant other online. Don’t know about you, but I find that to be a rather daunting figure!
As I pointed out in ‘Dating In The Age of Instant Gratification’, there are generally three types of people on online dating sites – 1. Those looking for sex, 2. Those wanting their egos to be massaged, and 3. Those genuinely looking for love.
We’ll focus on the third group today.
If you’re single and have been for a while then why continue to try the same methods over and over again if they’re not bringing any success?? As they say, to keep doing so and expecting a different result is the definition of madness. The objective of this article is to open our eyes (yes, me included) to the need for a strategy re-think.
But first thing is first – why do we want to be in a relationship?
This is a question I recently had to ask myself after coming across an interesting article about marriage last week; and in truth by the time I finished reading it I felt somewhat dishevelled. Aptly titled, ‘Why You Will Marry The Wrong Person’, by Alain de Botton, the article questions our reason for wanting to be in a relationship in the first place.
Is it a feeling?
Are we simply afraid of being alone?
It’s the second question that really caught my attention.
There have been many instances during the past couple of years in which I’ve had a mini panic attack as a result of a fear of never finding love again or ending up alone. And my usual reaction to those very unwelcome and hugely destabilising thoughts are, ‘get a girlfriend. Now!’.
But is this a good enough reason to be in a relationship?
As Alain de Botton succinctly puts it;
“We make mistakes because we are so lonely. No one can be in an optimal frame of mind to choose a partner when remaining single feels unbearable. We have to be wholly at peace with the prospect of many years of solitude in order to be appropriately picky; otherwise, we risk loving no longer being single rather more than we love the partner who spared us that fate.”
This is not a case of misery be-gets misery, so if you’re presently in a state of self-pity put the violin down right this minute.
Right – you’re single, have been for a while, and are now wondering whether you’ll ever find love and happiness. Well, who knows, maybe you won’t find love. But don’t make the mistake of believing love and happiness are two sides of the same coin. Obviously, nobody wants to end up alone, and I sincerely hope and pray that you come across the love of your life sooner than soon; but don’t wait for love to arrive before giving yourself a chance to be happy.
They say happiness comes from within – yes, very true, but be flipping practical!! It won’t just appear from thin air. Do things you actually enjoy doing, as against what you’ve been told is the right thing to do. If you enjoy dancing, then go dancing more often. If it’s yoga that gives you contentment then yoga-on and yoga some more. If it’s going out for a drink with friends, then do so regularly, and I might add sensibly (sorry, couldn’t help adding that little caveat. Must be an age thing). If it’s sports, then play more sports – there’s no such thing as too old. I recently met a 70-year old man who told me something I shall never forget. He was dressed in his sports gear, and on his way to play badminton with his friends. When I asked him how long he had been playing for he replied, “For as long as I can remember. My friends and I play twice a week. We love it. Really keeps us going. Never ever stop doing what you love – no matter what.”
So, what am I saying?
As Facebook, Instagram, and various other forms of social media platforms continue to find new ways to make us feel inadequate, inept and far from good enough, it is essential we go back to basics. Rather than trying to live up to the hype or attempting to keep up with the many joneses online to the extent that we blatantly misrepresent our true selves, we should be honest about who we are, how we look, and trust that making an effort and being practical will connect us to the right people. The thing about misrepresentation is that it isn’t sustainable, and hence ultimately yields poor returns.
Unfortunately, too many of us fail to recognise this simple truth. A study of over 1000 online daters in the US and UK conducted by global research agency OpinionMatters, found that Over 53% of US participants admitted to having lied on their online dating profile. And apparently women more so than men!
Finally, as the online world takes more and more control of our daily lives, is it possible that actual human connection and genuine relationships are becoming a thing of the past?
Online dating can be good, but it often encourages too many of us to behave like a kid in a candy store – too many options, too much excitement, and the likely-hood of not only picking too many but making all the wrong choices for all the wrong reasons.
As I previously pointed out, dating companies need to think of new ways of getting people to meet. According to Psychology Today, ‘more than one third of all people who use online dating sites have never actually gone on a date with someone they met online’.
How about having to actually meet those you’ve been matched with?
Here’s my suggestion;
Let’s say you’ve been matched with three people – then you must actually meet those people in person (separately of-course) before you can proceed any further. In other words, you won’t be allowed to chat with anyone else until you’ve met with those you’ve been matched with. And of-course those that misbehave should be reported, rated accordingly, or even blacklisted, depending on their level of misdemeanour.
Sounds a little totalitarian?
Maybe it is. But in order to get us all to calm down and actually give each other a chance, maybe, just maybe our liberty and choices need to be clipped a little. I’ll hazard a guess that through this method, many of us will most likely stumble across wonderful individuals we would otherwise have missed, as a result of a natural tendency to be over-fussy, greedy, and impatient when given too many options. In short, we all need to calm down and make more effort to actually get to know people in person.
Am I speaking from experience? Damn right I am! Kid in a candy-store doesn’t do me justice!!
In a nutshell, and I’m hoping you’ve figured this out by now, online dating companies, if they really do care about helping people find love, need to employ strategies to combat our tendency to be impatient, fickle, easily distracted, and constantly thinking the grass is greener on the other side. At present, our inability to focus on one person at a time is simply playing into the hands of those that wish to continue taking our monthly subscriptions for an eternity and more.
The only way to combat this is to forcefully change our mindset – reduce our options and force us to actually give each other a chance.
Am I really saying the online dating world needs to be regulated for our own good?
Too bloody right I am!!!