So I've been pondering this and thinking about writing about it for a while now, and today I came a popular question of @sydneysentinel Do single people even want love anymore? and it reminded me once again that there is still a lot of interest and complicated feelings about #love and #dating today.
Sometimes it feels difficult to sort through all the detritus - everything from frustration and bitterness and dismay, from the lovelorn and heartbroken who already put chips in and cashed out, to the disheartened yet somewhat, somehow, still hopeful who are waiting to buy in again. One thing is clear to me - the desire to be with others, to have connections, to have a deep and meaningful relationship, it still exists. It is so strong in some, while understandably for others they have begun or completed the painful process of detaching themselves from the idea that they will ever find or achieve it. There are also those who want no part of it, think it's too much trouble, and those who want to fulfill their carnal desires and nothing more. But for most, they would like to find love, and if unbridled, blow the roof off passion and excitment is not exactly in the cards, they'd [quite happily] settle for someone who is nice, treats them well, and would be good to curl up at night with, with or without the covers on.
Don't believe me? Well without posting a tonne of links etc., I'll just try and summarize with these two polls of mine: 11% of guys want hookups with no potential relationship. "I'm interested in casual hookups because I want to have a variety of experiences, and am not ready to settle down yet." Guys (single men): what do you want: a relationship, hookups, or nothing right now? Lower than you thought, right? And for the ladies (who are getting judged very harshly these days about this), just 3% want the same Girls, Single ladies: why are you not in a relationship?'
... true love is a powerful thing. I'm anxious because I want to experience intimacy but that does not mean I don't want true love the most. I want a sister, a friend that I can share my life with. Someone that I can talk too and will support me. It's so strong a thing that for perfect relationship like that I'd trade intimacy ,if that's what it takes. - @Jjpayne
First, Let's Define Dating. What Constitutes 'A Date'?
They have a legitimate interest in each other.
Both people know they are on a date. This is clear and mutually understood.
Both parties make a genuine attempt to get to know one another.
Other people are not involved. They are not part of a group, designed to "take the pressure off."
There is adequate, uninterrupted, focused time for conversation.
Alcohol is not necessary to the outcome or success.
Physical interaction may be desired but sex is not the expected outcome.
I think there's been a misunderstanding or perhaps a mislabelling of the term #hookupculture Some say it's a media-created phrase designed to get clicks, hook eyes, and sell ads. Some say it's always been here, nothing's changed, but it now it has a catchy title. Others say it's a rampant disease, degrading and eroding the fabric of society. Others bring politics and lack of traditional values into the mix. And those in the sociology realm call it a #socialscript. I propose that this phrase has supplanted the term 'dating', but unlike many words which I criticize for being bastardized, I don't feel that way about this because at least it hasn't warped an existing definition. 'Hookup culture' is attempting to delineate a sea change in the dating world where there are no commitments being made (chosen), and instead casual flings of a sexual nature have taken their place. But what I'd like to say is that while dating may be all but dead, sex (intercourse) amongst strangers is not the norm. It is not just simple hedonism run amok. I believe in order to find the right answers, you must ask the right questions. Just because some people are having casual sex doesn't mean that that is what they really, ultimately want. And I think there needs to be a differentiation, a delineation, between "for now" and what the end goal is, the true desire is.
What Is 'Hookup Culture' Then?
It's no commitment. It's a refusal to define the nature of the relationship. It's a byproduct of an anxious, insecure culture. It's a perfect yet contorted example of supply and demand. It's women's liberation and a demand for sexual equality. Yet which likely leaves all, not just one sex, feeling ultimately lonely and unknown.
I feel lonely. I feel like no one really knows me. I feel like no one really cares about me. For 24-48 hrs I feel good. I got game. That was great. I could totally do that again. And then the doubt sets in...the person didn’t text me. The person hooked up with a bunch of other people too? I saw them and they acted as if they didn’t know me. - Kerry Cronin, Professor, Boston College
And this creates feelings of depair. And feelings that they don’t matter. Not just that it didn’t matter, but that they don’t matter. Why, if people want something, something of a higher nature, do they settle for something much less? Maybe because something is better than nothing. Maybe because they want to keep their options open. Maybe because we even though seemingly unlimited choice feels like the ideal scenario, it is stifling the ability to actually make a choice ('the paradox of choice'.) And maybe because they think and hope it will lead to more.
What I believe it is, is not that more people are having sex because that is all they want, but less people are committing to relationships. (Actually amongst the youngest who have just entered the dating world, there is less intercourse, though not all sexuality is lessened, and blow***s are more commonplace; rates of casual sex amongst seniors is up, by contrast; and the in between are having sex, but they are not committing, not getting married nor having children, in typical numbers as in generations past.) Yes, attitudes about sexuality do seem to have loosened and other types of sex and sexuality are being expressed. And yes, some not having relationships is by choice, but some is not for lack of wanting, but for other reasons. And this is where it gets complicated, and the list is long, so I won't attempt to list them here. The whys and how we got here are not as important as what this means for society now.
So in a Nutshell What's the Problem? Why Aren't People 'Dating'?
I think that a lot of people forget how to be loving in a disposable world. - @DanOh2018
Well, for the purposes of this article, I'm not talking about the scenario where somone was dating and it didn't work out and they're reluctant to dip their toe in again (they feel they gave it their best, but the other person just didn't treat them well, accept them for who they are, etc. etc.) I'm speaking now about those who won't even begin, don't even try to get to know the other person. They won't engage, or they objectify. And why is that? Well for starters, fear. Fear of being hurt. Fear of judgement. Fear of rejection. Fear of making desires known. Fear of appearing needy, or wanting anything at all. Some men are now also paralyzed by the idea of a false claim of harrassment. But to a lesser degree and more widely experienced is the fear of being thought of as 'stalkery' (that's equally by both men and women.) But by making the entire venture more casual, "taking the pressure" off the other person and off oneself, it also takes away the fulfillment of getting what you want, and limits the possibility of a greater, deeper connection. Also, if you don't first take the time to really get to know them, you probably don't even know whether you want the other person. First you have to put in the time to listen and to hear. And to know another person is to spend time with them which is [perhaps later but not at first] not primarily, or first and foremost, sexual.
Now you're saying, "But I've met someone I was interested, but it didn't go anywhere." And then, "They were not interested", "I don't know what happened... they just ghosted me", or "I have let them know how I feel about them but they won't commit to me or apparently any relationship right now". Right. All possible scenarios. And why is that? Maybe (see the womens' poll for the myriad of reasons), because they won't even give it a chance. Why? Because they can't imagine it working. Why? Because they won't even get to the dating stage, where they really get to know a person. Because of intolerance. Because we judge too harshly, too quicky, and without enough compassion or acceptance. We have a become a highly individualistic, particular, on-demand society who seems to expect luck or fate to send us, to serve up, a perfect partner who is just 'right'. But has luck or fate or desire changed? No. There isn't "one person" but there are people. "But how do I know?" You don't. Take some risks, make a choice, decide, commit, and go for it. And then compromise, compromise, compromise. And have some fun.
And then there is technology. Technology has brought people together from around the globe, but it has simultaneously created a wall, a way to protect and insulate oneself from rejection, from criticism, or lack of acceptance. We create identities, personas, which may or may not falsify the truth of who we are. We both oversell and undersell. The internet and social media has create a mecca for affirmation... and judgement and criticism, an eden and a cesspool. At best, it is a small sliver of who we are, a best attempt at conveying our complexity and a complete picture. At worst, it is a highly contorted, exaggerated and more appealing, carefully curated version of self. This insulation means that we question whether we are truly known (answer: we are not.) And the only way to be truly loved, is to be fully known. So we feel empty, lonely, and sometimes even unloveable.
Making it clear that you're on a date, you’re saying oh I like this person. Judge me for that, and that can be scary for a lot of people. - The Dating Project
I don't think everyone should permanently pair up, and I don'tt think marriage is always the answer. But I do believe that chasing emptiness or loneliness through seemingly meaningless sexual experiences with relative strangers is a road that leads nowhere. In fact, it probably leads to an even darker place inside. And not trying at all, not engaging with others or taking a risk, taking a chance, it also is sad, a hugely missed opportunity. What would I like to see? For people to not hold back so much, for people to treat each other with kindness, interest, and respect, and fully explore each other.
We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity; more than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. - @jimboGB
If it doesn't last, it should not be seen as a failure. Think of it as an exploration, a journey that benefits both people. If you both come to a place of understanding, of knowing each other well enough to conclude that this is the end of the road for the two of you, then so be it. You can find closure in this. You can walk away from this with a clear conscience, hopefully some memories, some laughs, and with more knowledge and understanding of yourself and the world. That should be the goal. Not the $30,000 wedding, or any other milestone or indicator of a 'successful' relationship.
I'd like to give the last word to mk200195 as I think he said it well.
Nobody is really single. We all have a range of relationships with other people. Some of them are closer and more emotionally intimate than others; some may involve living with the person; some may involve sex, sensuality, and pleasure; some may be bound by children, parents, or other obligations; some may revolve around money or ambition or ego; some may be matters of convenience while others are goals in themselves; sometimes they last for a moment, others a lifetime.
Yes, there are scripts for the qualities that ought to characterize “single” people’s relationships and different scripts for what sorts of relationships “unsingle” people ought to have. But really, it’s all meaningless. The only question that matters is whether the relationships you are enmeshed in are satisfying to you. We should all be okay with high quality relationships that lift us up. That’s [what's] worth striving for. - @mk200195
And now, a moment of silence...