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5 Ways to Avoid the Cliff of Contemporary Dating

I have a friend who dates online… a lot. You could say she’s popular. She gets out again and again because she’s fabulous--which is obvious, even through a screen. Yet she arrives each time preloaded with every personal detail about her date--their hometown, full legal name, and family history--often even their annual income and whether or not they rent or own. IT IS RIDICULOUS. The internet is a fantastic tool for writing a thesis, but should it be used to compose a 15-page, pre-introduction memoir on a potential romantic interest’s life story?...

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  1. We’ve Lost the Mystery
    I have a friend who dates online… a lot. You could say she’s popular. She gets out again and again because she’s fabulous–which is obvious, even through a screen. Yet she arrives each time preloaded with every personal detail about her date–their hometown, full legal name, and family history–often even their annual income and whether or not they rent or own. IT IS RIDICULOUS. The internet is a fantastic tool for writing a thesis, but should it be used to compose a 15-page, pre-introduction memoir on a potential romantic interest’s life story? 

    Cliff Avoidance Tip #1: If you’ve typed your date’s name into the search bar, ready to hit “Search Google,” just don’t. 

    Mystery is good; it’s how Homo Sapiens (and more than a few Neanderthals) met for hundreds of thousands of years before Al Gore invented the Internet. Mystery is what makes you go, “Hmmm; this person surprises me. That feels nice. I think I want to know more.” 

    But showing up with a mental dossier prepared for just how someone will be?

    Total chemistry buzz-kill.  

  2. Texting, texting, texting
    Where to begin? Firstly, deep thoughts and probing questions don’t belong in a text. Texting is by nature impersonal…so such misuse of this particular medium? Bizarre. Plus, it indicates a certain lack of anything better to do than sit on the couch typing out long, overworked messages. Let’s face it–texting is a shallow form of communication.  It also indicates embryonic social skills. 

    Cliff Avoidance Tip #2: Do plan a date and confirm logistics over text; send a quick joke or sweet note, and definitely drop a “So nice to meet you, thank you for the…” text the next day. 

    The “Don’ts”: Questions like, “What do you want most out of life?” “What did life teach you yesterday?” “What makes you special?”

  3. The Bar Scene
    I’ve enjoyed traveling to, meeting new people, and dating in some of this country’s finest cities– New York, DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New Orleans. All wildly different, but in each, I sensed the unwritten agreement that the “bar scene” was THE PLACE to meet potential love interests. But should it be? Not that this is unique to contemporary culture but, should your “Go-To” strategy center on really loud places where odds are anyone wonderful you’d meet isn’t entirely him or herself and likely won’t entirely remember you?  Maybe not.

    And then there’s this: Are you really in search of a relationship with someone who spends the majority of their lives sitting on a barstool? Don’t expect to find your soul in a saloon, and definitely do not become the troller who’s always there–waiting. 

    Cliff Avoidance Tip #3: Go to interesting places and get involved in activities in your area that don’t involve getting buzzed, toasted, sloshed or baked, and I promise your odds of meeting intriguing, attractive (even in the daylight) people will increase exponentially.

    Case in point: A college friend of mine who knew no one in her new city joined a Tennis Club instead of hitting the watering holes. She made fabulous friends, got into great shape, and met an awesome guy.

  4. Swipe Mania
    Reducing someone to a single image and tagline is an absurd idea. How has the dating industry convinced us all otherwise? When online dating ‘came out’ everyone balked, but then the marketers stepped in. The proliferation of public dating ‘profiles’ as a way to choose partners makes instant snap judgements of image and character the common currency of contemporary dating culture. We are all about convenience, speed, and immediacy–we’re as much a “date-by-drive-by” society as we are “dine-by-drive-up” junk food eaters. With similar effect, I might add.  Potential partners are little more than 2-dimensional advertisements to us, self-marketed for better or worse. (Mostly worse… but more about fixing your online dating profile– if you must– in a later post.) 

    Cliff Avoidance Tip #4: Online dating really works for some people, but the suck of your time and your humanity isn’t worth it for just as many more.  People are not profiles. Think about stopping the pattern of living your life through a 4-inch mobile screen, consciously avoiding “easier, faster, better..” where it might make sense.  Finding and choosing a human being to spend more than an hour or so with just might be a good start.  Accept this to get out IRL more–where actual human connection is not only possible, but very likely, and where you and the people you meet cannot be defined and dismissed in a moment’s glance.

  5. Romance is Dead
    Does the word “romance” mean anything to us anymore? I’m uncertain. But I’m pretty sure that sending a dirty booty call text, or asking a woman out for a drink that she ends up paying for- just isn’t it. Somewhere between my sixth grade science camp and high school graduation, “dating” became “hanging out,” and hanging became loosely defined as, “I have no interest in showing real consideration for the opposite sex because I don’t have to.” Who approved this message?! Everyone should show respect and consideration to a potential, and potentially life-long, love interest. It is a basic necessity for a mutually fulfilling date, much less a relationship. 

    Cliff Avoidance Tip #5: Kindness is non-negotiable, and it is the basis of true romance. Treating someone how you’d LIKE to be treated isn’t just an archaic religious tenet, it’s good dating etiquette and you shouldn’t settle for less. NOBODY is that attractive, smart, interesting, special or “worth it.”  You deserve romance–so choose to share your time with those who treat you with kindness and consideration. 

    Already over the cliff on this one and need of an intervention?, Check out these simple tips from Psychology Today.

Listen, I get it- dating can be an isolating and lonely experience. It’s a roller coaster ride of fleeting validation and shallow dismissal. BUT THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL, and that light is YOU. You have the power to change every aspect of your life–especially dating.

Because you’ll always be at least one half of the dynamic that is your dating life…and I’ll be here to guide you through it on the Love Wisely series. 

Love Wisely, friends.

Valerie 

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