As a single young adult, it is expected at some point during any holiday you spend with your family to be asked (or if your family is anything like mine softly interrogated) about the status your love life. You would think that the lack of a Christmas plus-one or even the hint of a cute text would tell them everything they may ever need to know, but of course it doesn’t. So the questioning begins. “You’re a beautiful young woman with a nice job, I’m sure you have suitors. Why aren’t you seeing anyone?” Rather than trying to explain that I don’t think anyone uses the word suitor anymore and that I’m seeing people but haven’t really been on an official date in months (thanks to this amazing phenomenon of “talking”), I go for the easier option of, “Things are just different now.”
To us the world can feel so small. All you need is a phone and you can be halfway across the planet by simply watching a Snapchat or live stream. We have access to anyone that we can google search, and because of this, some of us know the lives of others just as well as our own. It sounds creepy, but it’s almost normal to “know” a person without ever having to know them personally, let alone ever see them in person. I have hundreds of followers I’ve never met, but could say that we’re almost friends through the years of exchanged likes and comments.
Seeing as we don’t even know a large percentage of the people we come into contact with daily, we often have our first impression of someone via social media hours, days, or even months before we meet them (if we ever do)… Already forming our opinions of them before they get the chance to plead their case. To say that you’ve decided whether or not to pursue someone based on what you’ve seen or heard is hardly untrue nowadays, and especially so with the popularity of online dating. These decisions are often made within seconds and solidified by a simple swipe of the finger. This may be counterintuitive, seeing as one would think having the entire pool of eligible bachelors at your finger tips would make things easier, I feel it only makes dating more competitive than ever. There’s always someone better looking, more wealthy, and more intelligent a few clicks away.
So, on the other side of the screen, we are busy making the best version of ourselves visible to the public eye. Who knows who will stumble upon your page today! Posting only your best selfies, ensuring to capture our latest successes, and heaven forbid we go somewhere cool and forget to get a photo-op. And, for those people who are Instagram famous, I’m sure it’s a full-time job to stay relevant. We do all of this only to get discouraged over the assumptions people make about us and the type of attention we attract, all the while refusing to do much reflection on the type of person we are presenting to the world.
Now, when we do enter into relationships we are bringing all of this junk into them with us. Right from the start there can be great disappointment because we aren’t getting all the things we perceived via text or social media from our partner (in person). Some things you can only learn from interaction, like the fact that your new beau may be quick-tempered. From there, Snapchat goes from only being good for the cute dog filter to a GPS/tracking device for your significant other. Casually viewing snaps can turn into obsessively searching for the slightest hint of the presence of an attractive female in the background. Instagram is less fun now too, because you can’t explain it, but you feel like his love for you is somehow depleted with each like he gives to another girl.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but when you factor in all of this, piled on top of everyone else’s opinions (because, yes, just like everything else you put all over social media, they have access to every single detail of your relationship…), piled further on top of all the normal relationship stuff we haven’t even touched here, it’s easy to feel like there’s more going wrong than going right from the start. You’ve managed to successfully sabotage our relationship before it ever really began. From then on, you’re never as happy as the other couples you reluctantly like pictures of, who in turn may not even be that happy themselves.
Yet, we continue the cycle, and later wonder why our relationships fail more often than not. Dating with all the added distraction, jealousy and insecurity can make you want to have options waiting on the side, and it can definitely make you want to keep the new people you meet at arm’s length until you’re sure you can trust them. Doing something over and over again is draining in itself. Now, doing something over and over again with the same negative result… well that can make you extremely pessimistic. Despite all of this, I’m going to ask you to try one more time.
However, not using the same methods as before. Instead, let’s for the first time in a long time, do something the way our parents did. Old school. And no, I don’t mean change the font on your phone to EXTRA LARGE and announce to everyone in the room every time you’ve “twittered”. I mean trade in “talking” for courting, opt for an actual date before you Netflix and Chill, and maybe hold off on your judgement of someone against your long list of standards for long enough to view their potential. Let’s make first impressions back into an in person experience! Mostly, I hope as we get older we realize all of this social media stuff is very similar to your favorite celebrities butt; it looks great but it’s probably overstated and not real.
I’m not telling you to take everyone that slides in your DMs on a date (it’s human to not be attracted to everyone), rather try making one of the checks on your list into a question mark and give someone you may normally overlook a shot. Ladies he may not have the six-figure salary and the car that comes with it yet. Fellas, she might not be an amazing cook but is willing to learn. Maybe she’s not a social butterfly. Maybe he’s not your ideal race. This could just be the hopeless romantic in me, but there could be something there that you’re dismissing simply because of how things appear to be.
We want everything to be instant like our Amazon Prime deliveries, mac and cheese, and video streaming, but that’s not how dating works. It never has (maybe it feels like our parents did less aimless wandering because they weren’t so distracted by every gorgeous face on Instagram). Not every relationship will work out, and although it sucks a lot, that’s life. But, some of my best “gifts” came without the influence of social media via the most unexpected packages… and I plan to keep it that way.