Good evening good evening good evening and welcome to
QI another instalment of the series “Alessia saw something she disagrees with on the internet”.
Today we’re back to dating (when is it ever not?), and more specifically to the question in the title above: What’s wrong with modern dating?, which is also the title of an article published on the Chastity Project. It’s by someone of college age but the principles stress from teens to adulthood. Let’s dissect it point by point.
Point A: The Bachelor.
I have never watched the programme in question so I don’t have an opinion about it one way or another. However, my guilty pleasure is famously Made in Chelsea, and you don’t really want to get dating lessons from it or consider anything about it real life. It’s entertainment, if anything it teaches you what NOT to do (seriously, don’t be a Spencer Matthews).
Point B: Well, no one is really “dating.”
According to the author “People enter relationships after months of “talking” (aka sending unclear messages that try to put on a confident front, when the reality is the person has no idea what they are feeling or doing). No one is actually going on dates. We are investing our emotions into a phone screen instead of people.” Now, that’s so much idiocy compressed in one sentence I’m unsure whether I should have split it in two. Unless you are talking about 14 year olds who have no permission to go out with boys or only consider those who enter relationships with people they have never met (I know some older than 14, and I’m not judging them) then the months of talking (or weeks or days) are all to lead up to something: THE DATE. And then you go on other dates and at some point it kinda dawns on you that yes you like them so you become a couple. Or, in my case, nothing ever happens after date 1 or 2. I’ve definitely invested emotions into real people, into whom I bump in very physical terms on occasion. The longest period of just talking had to do with being in a different country for two weeks between date 1 and date 2. Screens are what makes it possible to stay in touch when you lead busy lives, which is pretty much the norm (what do they do in US colleges then?), but people are definitely hanging out.
Point C: We resort to online dating or dating apps because we don’t want to pursue someone face-to-face.
“Instead of fantasizing about that mutual friend you barely know, why not remember all the tangible and compatible potential partners that surround you?” I tell you why: EVERYBODY IS ALREADY TAKEN. It’s not a matter of “not ‘see that way’ right now”, there are about 4 people left to potentially not see that way right now in my social circle.
I’m a busy person as the average Londoner is, or if you ask a certain professor of theology at a London university I am busier than the average Londoner is. I’m an expat, and I’ve changed house more times than years I have spent in the capital. I hardly go to Mass in the same place and when I do it’s generally the Oratory so not a place where you get to meet people much except for the once a month young adults group. In my circumstances my social network in general has mostly expanded through two means, the Conservative Party and Twitter. In fact, 90% of it is Tory Twitter.
People do ask you out in person if you meet them and click, it’s just more time consuming to put in your calendar yet more events and unless I bump into someone looking for a date at a networking event I go to for work there’s only 24h in a day. Either there are singles in your network or you need a way to extend that network. Online dating, as stopping people on the train, does just that.
Point D: Society has fostered a negative perception about going on dates when they are supposed to be a fun way to get to know someone and sense the one-on-one dynamic with another person. Going out on a date doesn’t mean you’re signing your name in blood.
I thought the society that us Christians are supposed to not be part of sees dates as the nice stuff you do before casual sex, when dating multiple partners is still permitted until you have actually talked about it and signed your name in blood or at least decided that even if you are just getting to know each other you won’t be getting to know others at the same time. Most cases I see kinda naturally wither away in a bubble of “I’m not sure what the other person wants so I’ll wait for them to make a move and not contemplate the possibility that they are as insecure as I am”. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Point E: The media distorts authentic dating by using shows like The Bachelorette, which brainwash us to think that dating means finding the perfect person who has all the qualities we ever wanted and nothing else.
If you are brainwashed, or someone is brainwashed, then I’m not sure the fault is of a TV show. My parents raised me to separate fact from fiction and, despite having studied philosophy at university level so I’m now able to disprove the theory that fiction is not real in an ontological sense, I know that even in the case of reality shows there is a thing called show in it that means my beloved Francis Boulle in person is likely not as charming as he appears on Made in Chelsea. No amount of Netflix binge-watch will make me think that dating is about finding the perfect person. I don’t believe there is one. There are just people you think you can still tolerate when you are old and you both need nappies, and people you don’t. When you find one that thinks they can tolerate you in return then you just make it work with conscious decisions.
Point F: Dating is not a custom bowl made to order from Chipotle—it’s seeing a person for their whole self, choosing to appreciate their qualities, and accept their faults. Technology has instilled in us an expectation of immediate satisfaction. We have become accustomed to editing and filtering our lives on Instagram, but we can’t “edit” our significant others or even ourselves. A genuine relationship cannot be shared with a person you only know on your phone screen.
If you are that detached from reality you genuinely need a therapist. And you can have a genuine relationship with a person you only know on your phone screen if you actually know the behind the scenes of that person. I’ve had a deeper friendship with a few people before meeting them than I’ve had with people I was hanging out with because I was showing my real self to them while being the friendly funny one with the people I was at the pub with. Vulnerability is what makes a relationship genuine, not whether you have enough face time.
Point G: When it comes to dating, attraction is important, but isn’t a stable foundation. Being attracted to someone isn’t enough to carry a relationship. No one wants to invest their time or emotions into something that is inauthentic and purposeless.
You can be inauthentic and purposeless in face to face relationship so how exactly is this connected to online dating?
Point H: If you’re in a relationship, ask yourself; Is your relationship helping you become a better person? Helping you expand in knowledge? Helping you grow in faith? If not, I encourage you to look more deeply into why you are in a relationship with that person. At the end of the day, your relationship will either evolve into a marriage, or diminish into a breakup.
This is actually the smartest thing she said, and it beggars belief how she seems to have missed the fact that if there is something wrong with modern dating then this is it: we often aren’t in relationships for the right reasons.
Point I: It’s great to have high standards, but be realistic. Don’t forget those around you, and be courageous, because dating requires initiative and effort (from both sides.)
I take the point about courage, initiative and effort as I’m guilty as charged. As for the high standards and forgetting people around you, see points C and E. I’m not even sure what counts as high standards, what counts as not settling for less than you deserve and whatever other pressure we’ve been put on since forever.
I don’t think society has fostered an untrustworthy feeling of the other gender, and fear of reaction is as old as humanity (she studies theology, she must have read the Book of Genesis!) Ruining a friendship is another thing that is more about personal insecurities and how we deal with rejection than it is about society, although the pressure society puts on being successful maybe has a role to play. Her conclusion is half wise half victim of the same mentality that I have already addressed. No, online dating isn’t what is wrong with modern dating.