The casualties of modern dating

This Valentine’s Day, re-evaluate dating post- lockdown

Happy Valentine’s Day, Bisons. Whether you have a person by your side this year or not, remember that this holiday is about the love all around us.

I find that people I’ve known throughout the years, as well as people on social media, have used Valentine’s Day as a way of complaining about being single or about people in relationships.

Some have even dubbed it “single awareness day” as a way to snub those with a partner, which feels more like a day for self-pity than a day to enjoy the people around you, and that is really unfortunate. Having love in our lives is what we all long for. So, this Valentine’s Day if you find yourself single, take time to celebrate the less obvious loves in your life.

I’ve spent many Valentine’s Days not in a relationship, a couple with a partner and one or two wishing I was single, but this year is the first year I’ll be in the dating pool mid-February. I find myself doubting if dating in this post-lockdown era is even worth it.

I think dating should be a journey to find the person you want to invest in, but modern dating in western countries is often online, dominated by hookup culture and is a process where no one lets anything happen naturally, among other things.

The pandemic restrictions left us trapped in quarantines and lockdowns during such a formative time in our social lives. Many of us graduated high school virtually and began university virtually.

We learned how to function solely as online beings. I know that I spent a year seeing only one or two people socially outside my family, and that was a commonality for others I know as well. I think that left a lot of my fellow gen-Zers with social anxiety.

Long gone are the days of passing notes in class, flirting with Starbucks baristas, meeting people in public or giving strangers your phone number. Welcome to the age of mindless motions of “hot or not” on Tinder, Hinge or Bumble. We’ve gone from When Harry Met Sally to The Tinder Swindler.

The dating scene now is absolutely dominated by hookup culture. Hookup culture consists of sneaky links, one-time or casual encounters or people that genuinely will do anything to add another name to the list. I’m all for sexual freedom, but the difference between sex and dating should not be a blurred line. Dating now is almost entirely hookup culture with a socially acceptable title.

I went on dating sites after picking myself up from being completely blindsided in an intense breakup. I thought I would find a person here or there that would make me feel good.

Instead, I was met with people hiding girlfriends back home and only looking for casual encounters, with very few making it past the first date.

I had the thought that perhaps if I put something on my Instagram story asking for people to pitch their best date idea, I’d take them up on it. Maybe it would convince me that dating could be different.

I think I expected that at least one of the suggestions would be my perfect first date, simple coffee and a walk or at least something that would make me think the person legitimately cared about making the date as good as it could be. That did not happen.

I had the thought that maybe I needed to lower my expectations, but we shouldn’t lower our expectations for anyone. This experience and experiment has only reinforced all of my reasons to dislike modern dating. So, I deleted Tinder, I deleted Hinge and I left things open for the universe to decide.

Additionally, I think that social anxiety mixed with the online approach has created a mindset that we are all entitled to someone. That entitlement turns into dismissing the best part of dating — the chase. When you feel that you are entitled to having a relationship, the thought that flirting goes beyond the first date flies out the window.

Buying someone flowers or standing with a boombox outside a person’s window to win them over is extinct. Or maybe it’s just my choice in men. Where did that chase go? Yet another reason why modern dating is seriously not worth it.

I’ve found that with the sense of entitlement some have comes the idea that we are empty beings unless we have a person. That leads to rushing things and not letting emotional connections form, a situation that can become toxic quickly and leave us with trauma we never needed.

I think that we would all end up happier and in healthier relationships if we left things to happen naturally, giving ourselves time to grow with people of interest. Some things are meant to be, others are not.

If you’re feeling the way I am, I encourage you to do what I’ve done. Delete all the apps. Leave it up to the universe. When you are ready, whether you know it or not, the universe will put the person who makes your cheeks hurt from smiling into your life. Who knows, maybe they’re already there.