Ugly Truths About Modern Dating

This article, 18 Ugly Truths About Modern Dating That You Have To Deal With, recently popped up in my facebook newsfeed. Curious, I clicked on over, and was super bummed out about the world by the end of the article. Because a lot of it is painfully true. Or used to be.

1. The person who cares less has all the power. Nobody wants to be the one who’s more interested. Oy – starting off with a hard punch to the gut. This one really bothered me because I used to put up with it. To an excruciatingly painful degree. On more than one occasion. And if I’m being completely honest, this exact point had me pretty messed up for a really, really long time. There is one particular guy out there who I have been powerless around since I was 16. Even after we stopped being a part of each others lives, years ago, his memory continued to have a lot of power over me. Even though I can confidently say that I’m completely uninterested in any romantic relationship with him, I can’t confidently say that if he were to knock on my door tomorrow he would no longer have any power. I hope that would be true, but I just don’t know. And that scares me.

This post is starting out in a really heavy, dark place. Here, look at this adorable gif of Adam Levine holding a puppy:

celebrities-with-puppies-adam-levine

Source: sheknows.com

I don’t know about you, but that link of 20 Adam Levine gifs just made me feel a whole lot better. Sorry/not sorry S, I know you think he’s gross, but you’re DEAD. WRONG. He is every kind of delicious. 

Back to the super depressing article about how much dating sucks. As much as I let the above happen in the past, I am extremely cognizant of not letting it happen again. Because that shit was fucked. up. Do I expect everyone I date to be exactly the same amount of interested as I am, at all times? No. That’s not reality. There will be times when I’m more into a guy than he is into me, and vice versa. And it’s easier said than done, definitely, but that imbalance doesn’t have to equal power. I’m not going to wait around too long for him to figure out how awesome I am. It’ll suck and sting if he doesn’t reach that conclusion, yes. But I know how it’ll turn out if I keep waiting for it to happen. It gets uglier and more painful the longer it drags out.

2. Because we want to show how cavalier and blasé we can be to the other person, little psychological games like ‘Intentionally Take Hours Or Days To Text Back’ will happen. They aren’t fun. Yeah no, I just don’t have time for this shit anymore. We live in a world where people are always in close proximity to their phone. There are lots of perfectly legitimate reasons why someone might not respond immediately. But if I notice that it’s starting to become a thing that it takes you eons to respond to my texts, then I’m done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not above raising the threat level to orange and scrambling some jets when he doesn’t respond within a few hours (see #10). But I’m also not above cutting him loose after he does it a few times and I get the impression it’s just to play the game. I am better than that.

3. A person being carefree because they have zero interest in you looks exactly like a person being carefree because they think you’re amazing & are making a conscious effort to play it cool. Good luck deciphering between the two. PREACH.

4. Making phone calls is a dying art. Chances are, most of your relationship’s communication will happen via text, which is the most detached, impersonal form of interaction. Get familiar with those emoticon options. I’m not crying any rivers about this one. I hate talking on the phone with anyone other than my immediate family and my close friends. And even beyond that personal dislike of phone calls, texting is more convenient. Want to make some plans? Want to let someone know you’re thinking about them without being that asshole talking loudly on their phone on the T? Want to relay a funny anecdote? Texting is great for all of that! Can texting be detached and impersonal? Yep. But it can also be a great way to stay in contact with your significant other throughout the day. Just don’t get familiar with emoticons. They suck.

5. Set plans are dead. People have options and up-to-the-minute updates on their friends (or other potential romantic interests) whereabouts thanks to texts & social media. If you aren’t the top priority, your invitation to spend time will be given a “Maybe” or “I’ll let you know” and the deciding factor(s) will be if that person has offers more fun/interesting than you on the table. Another one that I used to put up with. But I’ll be damned if I put up with this anymore. It’s taken me longer than I care for it to have, but I’m finally pretty happy and secure about who I am. And while I may be a lunatic, I’m also a pretty great person. If you don’t want to commit to plans with me because something/one better might come along, that’s fine and that’s your right. But I’m not going to keep trying to make plans with you. Because there are people out there who do want to spend time with me.

6. Someone who hurt you isn’t automatically going to have bad karma. At least not in the immediate future. I know it only seems fair, but sometimes people cheat and betray and move on happily while the person they left is in shambles. Life is a bitch, yes, but I don’t really think this is a truth about modern dating only. This has actually always been true.

7. The only difference between your actions being romantic and creepy is how attractive the other person finds you. That’s it, that’s all. I mean, this is more true than I care to admit. Mostly because I’ve been the creepster more than often than not.

8. “Let’s chill” & “Wanna hang out?” are vague phrases that likely mean “let’s hookup” — and while you probably hate receiving them, they’re the common way to invite someone to spend time these days, and appear to be here to stay. First of all, if any guy ever says to me “Let’s chill,” chances are pretty good he lives Allston/Brighton, has street signs decorating the wall over his enormous oversized leather couch, and reminisces about his frat days (which were only 2 years ago). And my answer will be, “thanks but no thanks.” Though it is true that this kind of informal invite to “hang out” is the norm these days. But is that really the worst thing? It’s not eloquent, but they are still asking to spend time with you.

9. Some people just want to hookup and if you’re seeking more than sex, they won’t tell you that they’re the wrong person for you. At least, not until after they score your prize. While human decency is ideal, honesty isn’t mandatory. Yeah, this is totally true. And it’s a real bummer.

10. The text message you sent went through. If they didn’t respond, it wasn’t because of malfunctioning phone carrier services. True or false: a couple months ago I worked myself into a frenzy about a drunk text I sent late one night. At 7:19 a.m. (I wake up at the crack of dawn after a night of drinking, it’s the worst), I sent S a text that read “Last night was paved with bad decisions. I want to crawl into a hole and hide.” I sent my best friend a text that read “I want to go back in time, grab the phone out of my hands, and throw it in the river.” Because I’m not dramatic at all. I spent the whole day imagining a host of improbable scenarios about why he hadn’t responded yet. And when he did text me later in the day about something unrelated, I imagined a whole new set of scenarios about how he might have missed that 2 a.m. message professing my feelings. But I did eventually come to terms with the fact that he saw it, and just didn’t respond for whatever reason. Oh well.

11. So many people are scared of commitment and being official that they’ll remain in a label-free relationship, which blurs lines and only works until it doesn’t. I’ve said it many times before, I’ll say it again – “we’re just talking” is opening the door for cheating that technically wasn’t cheating because, hey, you weren’t together together. Yeah, this one is totally true. Deciding when to bring up the exclusivity talk is a fine line. Too early and you risk seeming too intense/desperate. Too late, and you risk either the above, or looking uninterested. I have no words of wisdom on this point. God speed to us all.

12. Social media creates new temptations and opportunities to cheat. The private messaging and options for subtle flirtation (e.g. liking of pictures) aren’t an excuse or validation for cheating, but they certainly increase the chances of it happening. This just seems so cynical to me. Sure it’s a new medium for emotional cheating (and potentially physical cheating), but if the person you’re dating is even looking to do either of those things, isn’t the relationship already broken to some degree? Social media isn’t really the problem, it’s just a place for the problem to manifest itself.

Uh oh, it’s starting to get serious up in here again. Here:

slight overreaction

Source: 31 GIFS What Will Make You Laugh Every Time

That’s better. That is just the cutest thing. And not unlike how I react when I spot seaweed or a spider/insect. Although something tells me when I do it, it’s not all that cute. Anywho.

13. Social media can also create the illusion of having options, which leads to people looking at Facebook as an attractive people menu instead of a means of keeping contact with friends & family. I guess this could be true? It’s certainly not how I use facebook, but maybe I’m just doing it wrong? All this social media talk is making me feel really old all of a sudden.

14. You aren’t likely to see much of someone’s genuine, unfiltered self until you’re in an actual relationship with him or her. Generally people are scared that sincerely putting themselves out there will result in finding out that they’re too available, too anxious, too nerdy, too nice, too safe, too boring, not funny enough, not pretty enough, not some other person enough to be embraced. This is another one that I think is universal to any era of dating, not just modern dating. Being vulnerable is never easy. And requires a certain level of trust. So of course you’re not going to get all of me really early on. 

15. Any person you get romantically involved with you’ll either wind up staying with forever or breaking up with them at some point. These are equally terrifying concepts. Again, not really a modern dating problem. But certainly accurate. The magnitude of this point sank in for my best friend recently, when she said to her fiance, 2 or so months before their wedding: “M, this marriage thing is a pretty big deal. After marriage you either die or get divorced.” Wise words, K. Wise words.

16. When dating, instead of expressing how they feel directly to you, a person is more likely to post a Facebook status or Instagram a Tumblr-esque photo of a sunset with a quote or song lyric of someone else’s words on it, and while it may not mention your name, it’s blatantly directed at you. I mean, this is just comical. Was I guilty back in the day of the AIM away message that cryptically obviously referred to some guy (see #1)? ‘FO. SHO. But now? H E double hockey sticks NO*. And the second a guy I’m dating throws up a facebook status/instragram like the one described, I will slap him in the face and tell him the next time he pulls some shit like that, I’m going to buy him a Lisa Frank diary and some glitter pens so he can be the 13 year old girl that he is in private.

Lisa Frank diary

17. There are plenty of people who’ll have zero respect for your relationship and if they want the person you’re with, they’ll have no qualms with trying to overstep boundaries to get to ‘em. Girl code and guy code are wishful thinking and human code isn’t embedded in everyone. I do think that this is far more prevalent than it used to be, and that just makes me sad.

18. If you get dumped, it’s probably going to be pretty brutal. People can cut ties over the phone and avoid seeing the tears stream down your face or end things via text and avoid hearing the pain in your cracking voice and sniffling nose. Send a lengthy text and voilà, relationship over. The easy way out is far from the most considerate. Dear John letters existed long before the text was invented. Is it a lot easier to break up with someone impersonally these days? Of course. But getting dumped has always been, and always will be, brutal. And some people always have been, and always will be, cowards about it.

I know I started off this post by saying I was super bummed out about the world by the end of the article. And I was. But I also felt better about myself too. So many of these things, that are definitely true, I’m just not willing to deal with anymore. Maybe it only comes with experience and maturity, but I deserve better than all that crap. And I demand better than that. Because you know what, there are people out there who don’t behave like that or do those things. Are they fewer and farther between? Yeah. But I know from experience that they’re out there. So yeah, I go on fewer dates than I used to/could. But I’m fine with that. And I think that’s pretty awesome.

S

*I find it really comical that I have no problem dropping 7,276 F-bombs per post, but when I drafted this post I didn’t just type “hell.” I don’t even believe in hell, so I shouldn’t be afraid of saying it. I don’t understand me sometimes.

What D’s Perfect Relationship Looks Like, According to Science

Get comfy everyone, maybe even grab a snack, because this post is loooong.

To maximize blogging dating potential, I’m on a few different sites (all free ones because I’m cheap). One of them offered a “relationship needs assessment.” As far as I can tell, they don’t use the results to actually match you with other people on the site who meet your relationship needs, it’s basically just a psych assessment by a computer algorithm based on 100 statements and my responses of “Not at all Like Me”, “Somewhat Unlike Me”, “Somewhat Like Me”, or “Much Like Me”. A few samples:

I feel loved when my partner celebrates my birthday with a gift. DUH! Who doesn’t?
I worry that my romantic partners will not care about me as much as I care about them. Sounds like something I should be talking to a therapist about,  not a dating website.
As a sexual partner, I try to be neat. I don’t even know what this means, but I’m pretty sure being neat is pretty far down on the list of things I’m thinking about…
Love comes but once in a lifetime. Santa and the Easter Bunny are real too.
I feel loved when my partner helps me out with chores. I guess I feel loved, but mostly I just feel annoyed we’re doing chores.
 

Obviously I sat down and filled that shit out. The results were broken down into nine categories. As with most things like this, my results were a mix of accurate and hilariously inaccurate. Behold:

Interdependence: how much you need dependency or a “couple identity” with your partner.

We started off pretty accurate. It said that I need someone who reciprocates a strong feeling of attachment to a partner, but who also respects and copes well with the fact that I like some independence (or as they called it, “physical and psychological space at times”). Truth. Both because I think it’s important and healthy to have a separate identity from your partner, and because if I spend too much time with just one person, even someone I love, I tend to want to throw them off a cliff. I once spent a week with my two best friends at a beach house in Rhode Island, and I still go into a blind rage at the mention of Block Island. What should have been a minor disagreement (that I was unfortunately on the wrong end of) turned into a huge fight, and the underlying issue was 80% cabin fever on my part (and 20% my hatred of being wrong). They’re both laughing as they read this (luckily they’re still friends with me). It was ten years ago, and I’m still not laughing. Block Island was very lovely, but I legitimately hate that place. I hate an island that I visited for one day. So a bit of independence in a relationship can only be a good thing for me.

Intimacy: how much you need emotional closeness with your partner.

Allegedly, I am very comfortable with being intimate and vulnerable with a partner and people like me have big hearts and an impressive openness to our partners, including extending trust. Not to get too serious or all therapy session on you, but this is pretty off, at least as far as trust goes. I’m definitely not comfortable being vulnerable or extending trust, for a variety of reasons which aren’t very interesting. I’m working on it. The results also said that I am willing to act on the belief that my partner’s feelings are equally as strong/important as mine, and though I’m not perfect I do try never to belittle or invalidate other peoples’ feelings just because I don’t agree with those feelings. We broke even here.

Self-Efficacy: your self-image, stability of mood and level of motivation.

This one is my favorite. My answers apparently gave the impression that I am “patient”, “calm, cool and collected most of the time”, “likely do not overreact to circumstances as others might do”, and am “able to maintain a balanced perspective on situations.” Excuse me while I go change because I peed myself laughing. Recent examples of my calm, cool, collected, balanced perspective include: 1) texting two EMTs and an orthopedic surgeon (?) because my eye was twitching “weird” and I was convinced that I had an unruptured brain aneurysm that was pressing on my optic nerve and WHAT SHOULD I DO?; 2) spending the better part of an hour researching causes of throat cancer because my throat was scratchy and they had discovered some mold in the drywall and insulation of my office; 3) drafting an (unenforceable) last will and testament every time I get a sinus infection; 4) laying down in the hallway of my apartment building, crying because there was a bird in my apartment; and 5) throwing away an otherwise perfectly good garbage can because the bag had leaked leaving the bottom of the can gross, and buying a new garbage can was more appealing than the more responsible act of simply cleaning out the old one. And that’s all within the last year four months. I’m 28, that’s just a drop in my very composed bucket… I call shenanigans on this test.

Relationship Readiness: how prepared you are emotionally, psychologically and pragmatically for a committed relationship.

I have a good foundation and appear pretty much ready and willing to find a committed relationship. Go me! But maybe I got this result only because I tricked the test into thinking I have a balanced perspective and am generally calm, cool and collected. Whatever, I’m going to take this as a sign that I’m navigating being a grown up somewhat well, which was actually pretty unclear to me based on things like #s 4 and 5 above. Since I’m such an emotionally mature person, they told me that I need someone who is also awesome at life and wants a relationship, rather than needs one to feel personally fulfilled. Accurate. I don’t ever want to be something someone needs. I want to be something they want, but can survive without. Maybe we’re getting back on track…

Communication: your approach to interpersonal interactions and level of emotional intelligence.

Breaking News: I need someone who will not put up emotional barriers as to their thoughts and feelings, but will communicate with me. Correct – I do need that. In fact, I’m pretty sure every healthy relationship needs that.

Conflict Resolution: your stress management and problem solving skills.

I scored in the range of people who do not “consistently consider the Proper Atmosphere when addressing relationship problems.” More specifically, I neither consistently arrange for a mutually acceptable time and setting, nor choose my opening statement carefully to establish positive yet realistic expectations. So I need someone who is actually calm, cool and collected and is willing to address issues spontaneously (read, when I decide it’s time to address them). Perhaps I was a little premature calling shenanigans…

Sexuality: your needs (frequency, boundaries, expressions) related to physical intimacy.

My sexual needs are apparently “best described as fairly conservative compared to most other people, yet you are no prude.” I need someone who sees sex as romantic and fun and especially who will like to be submissive to my sexual desires. I’m not actually going to comment on this assessment, not because it’s right or wrong, but because I’m virtually incapable of talking about anything sexual. But I felt like I’d be somehow deceiving all you readers if I omitted this part, so there you have it.

Attitudes Toward Love: your level of needs for romantic love and friendship love.

I was informed that there are two types of love: romantic love and companionate love. Turns out I’m a hopeless romantic with a touch of realist. But it goes on to say that people in this range commonly view their partner as their soul mate. SOOOO, that “touch of realist” line was a load of crap then. Despite my deep love for The Princess Bride (Columbo! Kevin Arnold! And most of all, Westley! Dreamy Westley saying “as you wish”, which is like the most romantic thing any guy could ever say to me), there’s no such thing as destiny or soul mates. Shenanigans again (unless Ryan Gosling shows up at my door, then I’ll have no choice but to believe in both).

Preferred Expressions of Affection: your likes and dislikes for different ways a partner can express love and devotion.

My answers indicated that I need someone who expresses love with gifts. I don’t like how materialistic that makes me seem, but I also love gifts, so I can’t pretend like they’re wrong about me. My results went on to say that when it comes to my partner expressing affection, I like simple things such as them telling me how they feel, spending time with me, or remembering special occasions with a thoughtful gift. There we go with the gift thing again, but this time it sounds nicer.

So – did I learn anything new about myself or what I need from a relationship? Nope. Even though I’m no psychology expert, and have barely managed to stay alive since my parents stopped putting a roof over my head and food on the table, I am self-aware enough to already know that I need to be in a relationship with someone who 1) can communicate, 2) is calm to balance out my batshit-crazy, and 3) buys me presents. Which is pretty much the gist of that lengthy assessment. But it was entertaining enough reading all the questions and what my answers “said” about me, so it was time well spent I say. And bonus – in addition to all the above insights, I was provided with some very helpful questions that I could ask dates to determine whether or not they fit the bill of what I need. They were so awesome that I need to feature them all on their own, so look forward to that!

-D