Dating as you may know it is dead.
It wasn’t killed with nostalgia or dating apps but with indecision. The most important thing about marriage that most singles discount is that it’s about making a decision.
Dating is supposed to be a means of making that decision but instead it has transformed to a mere distraction. A way to kill time.
Because of this, dating hasn’t been given the respect it deserves. To think that dating is superfluous or trivial is to ignore the impact to the human experience that it has. Partnership is natural.
Humans are hardwired to build community and family. To crave and seek belonging and familiarity. Dating, today no longer offers any of that. Without noticing humans have behaviorally rejected the concept of dating and society is slowly starting to agree.
Dating used to be a method of decision making. If you want to get married, don’t use dating to do so.
What Does It Mean to Date?
Before the language creates confusion, think about your own definition of dating. To most of society dating means spending time with a stranger in an effort to get to know them for romantic intent.
For many that means partner shopping. To others it means having a ‘girlfriend’ or ‘boyfriend’ without a lifetime commitment. To a few, it’s Netflix and chill.
In reality however, dating is the simple act of spending time with someone in a romantic capacity. If you have romantic feelings of any kind, or intentions of any kind, it’s technically a date. But language has confused most adults today about what dating actually is.
What the average person considers dating is actually the equivalent of a ‘tween’. Dating is not quite a kid but not yet a teenager. It’s not quite a being single but it’s certainly not marriage. In a time before the situationships, dating was just another word for courting.
It meant the same to everyone.
Movies Made Us Do It
When dating was introduced to society it was a concerted marketing effort to encourage social activities like dancing, dinner, and patronizing the movie theater. Dinner and a movie wasn’t just someone’s good idea, it was a marketing ploy to encourage consumers to spend money. The executives at large wanted single adults to spend more money so they created the “date” as a socially acceptable way for strangers to spend time together.
Prior to this the idea of a woman alone with a man was incredibly salacious. If a man didn’t have the permission of a woman’s parents, he couldn’t take her anywhere. Once women started moving into cities, the concept of the date was perpetuated in movies relentlessly. Almost every picture included a date of some kind. Dinner, drinks, and the mention of the word no less.
But dating had a point and that point was marriage.
You could say that the introduction of the date was just more promotion of marriage. Before ‘dating’ marriage was thought of as a contract between families to advance their wife and provide a life for their daughters.
Marriage was a private endeavor to increase family wealth and dating was a capitalistic endeavor to increase corporate wealth.
The way adults dated reflected identically to what they were seeing in the movies. Whether life was imitating art or vice versa, no one was confused on what it meant to date, all they had to do was watch Grease.
The influence art and media has on society is undeniable. What seems like a natural adoption of new habits reveals itself to be a marketing ploy to influence sales. Too many adults believe that their choices are their own when they’re being influenced everyday by the messages confronting them through the media.
Dating is no different. What dating has become today is the result of total abandonment by Hollywood of the rom-com. Once Disney was unmasked as the perpetrator of unmeetable standards for love by introducing the fallacy of Prince Charming, Hollywood tried its hand at making the desire for romance and real love more attainable.
While it was successful in the late 2000s that narrative was all but abandoned. Leaving single adults to date without structure, influence, or guidance. The result being an unrecognizable landscape of what dating used to be.
What Makes it Different
Dating today is different from any other generation’s era because of one unequivocal truth, most singles lack clarity and intention. Almost every adult that is dating today, is waiting to ‘see where things go’. The majority of singles have no clue what they actually want and if they do, they are keeping that desire locked deep inside. The intention is not marriage, the intention is not true love, at most the intention is to avoid being lonely. Or to date because that’s what you do as an adult.
The majority of single adults would admit that they want to get married except they are not willing to do what it takes to actually be married, which is to choose a partner. Any partner.
Instead they are assuming the other party will make the choice and convince them to agree. This ambivalence is the result of a time when advertisers were wooing customers with unrealistic promises. Companies from cell services to credit cards are begging consumers to choose them. And like it or not this permeation of - impress me - has incepted our love lives.
The Illusion Of Options
Watch any commercial today and you’ll notice how many brands are asking you to switch. This ‘make the switch’ narrative has created a society of indecisive adults who are actually suffering from FOMO.
Today’s adults can barely commit to car insurance or a job much less a marriage. If you’re not happy, switch. Even if you are happy, you could be happier so switch. Leave your options open by renting… everything is making even the most substantial decisions hard to make. No one wants to get stuck. Stuck in a job, a marriage, a mortgage. The concept of freedom comes with unlimited choices and the only way to get anything is to try everything.
Being happy with what you have is death to capitalism so we see a constant convincing for singles to see what else is out there and explore their options.
What It Means For Dating
Why this all matters is simple. Marriage is an invention. An institution built with capitalistic intent. You can’t avoid that reality by ignoring it. If you are a part of any free market society, you have to accept that who you decide to spend the rest of your life with in marriage will impact not just your romantic life but your financial one.
To marry is the best financial decision you can make in today’s society. Not because you are deeply in love with your soulmate but because the less decisions you have to make in life the more successful you will be. The more stability you have in life the more successful you will be.
It makes sense that dating would become a complete clusterfuck due to its cost and emotional instability. It’s a constant exercise of choice and too much choice makes you feel bad. Dating apps have made the choices seem unlimited. New stages of commitment have created more choices than before. The lack of clarity in dating, the lack of purpose, has added unlimited outcomes instead of desired ones.
When you have too many decisions to make you likely make the wrong ones, or you don’t make them at all.
Find A Partner
The best advice for the new world order of dating is to find a partner. Don’t worry about if they’re perfect or if they are the best possible choice. This isn’t the same as settling. Choosing someone that aligns with what you want even when it’s not perfect is not settling. It’s maturity.
You have to first accept the assignment to complete it, and you have to complete it to know if you got it right or not. Better put, you don’t need to find a partner, you need to choose one. Make that your only purpose for dating and put forth the intention that you want to choose. All you need now is to know what it will take to make that decision.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Just decide. There is no harm in being wrong.