If you have reached the part about “Combating Anxieties 20-Something’s Face” in Happily Never After, you might be surprised to find out that I joined Tinder this week. How hypocritical of me, right?
I joined Tinder to take a stand. I believe, as 20-Something’s, we need to #ReclaimDating. Here’s what I think the problem is: everyone wants to complain, no one wants to do anything about it. How many of you have ever heard a friend say (or, perhaps you said it yourself), “Dating culture sucks”. And yet, we allow dating culture to suck. We see this everywhere. People write articles all the time about how 20-Something dating culture has changed, how empathy in college students is 30% lower due to technology, no one is getting married anymore. Singers write songs about “This ain’t love it’s clear to see/
But darling, stay with me”, “I could have another but I probably should not/ I got somebody at home”, “It’s one more trip to my side of town/ And you walk right in/ It’s one more here we go again”, basically confirming through pop culture that dating sucks.
My book was #10 on Amazon’s list of hot new dating releases this week. The books that beat it out were books about “online dating disasters”, “my friends are engaged and I am not”, “dating playbooks”, and yet, not one of these popular titles address the issue of why dating culture sucks. Because, here is what inevitably happens. We buy the book about the online dating disasters, think it’s hilarious because we, too, have been on an awkward date like that. We share the stories with our friends, they laugh, we get attention, and then, we go on another online date, looking for another good story to tell because we like the attention we get from telling the funny story. And yet, we never really address the problem that actually, the only reason we are doing this is because we are very lonely, lost, confused, and insecure about ourselves, we don’t know how to get the attention we so crave any other way, so we seek alternative methods to fill that void.
I conversed with a girl the other day who literally said, “I just hate dating in this day and age. I would honestly rather be single than be with someone I don’t like. The last guy I dated I met off Tinder, we hooked up on the first night, and now we don’t talk anymore”. Herein lies the problem: “All the guys suck”, but, “I don’t want to do anything about it because I am going to just keep Tinder dating”. And, even more of the problem, as the friend, I sit there, shake my head, agree with her, and never do I tell her that, um, perhaps you should not have hooked up with him on the first night if you wanted a relationship, because that is socially unacceptable for me to correct her behaviors. So, in that interaction, I just perpetuated the problem that is dating culture as well, because I didn’t tell her to stop.
We may think its fun to get our friends drunk the night of a bad breakup, and we might think its funny to share our online dating disaster stories, and those awkward hookups, but when we go to bed at night, and we have to answer to ourselves, we still have to deal with those feelings of loneliness. I don’t care how strong you are, fulling our physical needs without an emotional attachment is damaging. As humans, while we are created to be selfish and pleasure driven, that’s actually not what our subconscious wants, and when we seek physical means to gain emotional fulfillment, we find ourselves broken, shameful, and self-loathing (even if we do not necessarily admit to our friends, or to ourselves–this is what is happening). Our friends may seem happy-go-lucky, and they may appear to just brush off these “dating disasters”, but deep down inside, there is more going on. I once was kissed guy I knew I should not have, and I felt SO guilty about it for at least three days; I can’t imagine what kind of negative self-talk these seemingly “funny” Tinder stories lead to…
I believe the solution is very simple: do something about it. As my dad always said, “If you don’t vote, then you aren’t allowed to complain about it”. So, if you aren’t going to be part of the solution of solving dating culture, then don’t complain about it as a problem.
I believe that we train people how to not only treat us, but to treat other people in society, and we have a moral obligation when we are out dating to reverse some of these corrupt practices. For example, I personally hate it when a guy asks me out via text message, for the mere fact that asking me out via text signals you lack confidence, and if I were to ask you out, I would at least give you the benefit of a phone call (….will you ask me to marry you via text message too?…). So, if I accept a date via text, even if it doesn’t work out between us, I am therefore training him that asking a girl out via text is acceptable, and he will continue that dating practice. Or, if I go on a Tinder date, hook up with the guy within the first five minutes, then I am training him that this is what Tinder dating is for, and I am allowing the next helpless victim he swipes right for to accept the same treatment. If we want to see dating culture shift, then we have to stop letting people treat us like crap.
Secondly, I think we need to do some deep introspection of why we allow ourselves to be treated like crap in the first place. The BEST compliment I received about Happily Never After so far was when someone called me, crying, because the painfulness of my break up reminded her of her own break up, and she hadn’t realized how much it still weighed her down until that moment.This happens to me all the time; I will come across a Pin, read a quote, watch a movie that brings up some kind of repressed memory that I hadn’t dealt with yet. Just last week, I sat in a coaching conference and started welling up when the speaker discussed objectifying women in sports, and realized the reason I was welling up was because I was once immersed in this culture myself, and I didn’t realize how much the issue impacted me, or how much I had changed, until that moment. But it’s great, because now I know something I have to work through so I don’t have to repress it instead of shoving it down the recesses of my brain, where it festers, and will eventually present itself in an unhealthy way. I fully expect this to happen to many other people as they read, and I think it is SO healthy, and one of the purposes of writing the book.
Last, I think we need to take control and curve some of these dysfunctional tendencies. Once we realize why we allow ourselves to be treated like crap (“I got daddy problems”, “my parents never modeled a good relationship”, “I didn’t value myself”), then we can find solutions. I spoke with another girl this week who said, “My parents got divorced when I was 2, so I never really knew what a good marriage was, until I moved in with these 50 year olds who modeled a strong marriage and now I know”. Ah, I commend thee, because she is taking control of her dysfunctional tendency; she realizes why she is the way she is, and found a solution to curve that behavior. No matter what kind of family we come from, we are all wounded creatures and we all carry baggage. However, by the age of 20, we also have the power to change that, and I believe curving those tendencies just may be the solution to #ReclaimDating.
So, when you see me on Tinder, please swipe left, go to your Amazon store, buy a copy of Happily Never After, and try to figure out why you are even on Tinder in the first place. As Atticus Finch says, “In the name of God, do your duty”.
(If you are still reading and I have piqued your interest, I will even put the book on Amazon for FREE today–everyone likes free stuff, right?)