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What’s up with our dating culture?

I’ve had a few very good conversations centred around this topic of late, many of which have been inspired by someone who lives and loves authentically. I’m sure many of you would agree with me that in today’s day and age, dating is hard. Or is it? Is anything in life truly hard, or is it merely our thinking that makes it so? As William Shakespeare quotes, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. I read an interesting article the other day titled, “Why modern day dating makes me want to punch myself in the throat,” in which the author, Melissa Moeller, explains the difficulty in today’s dating scene. She explains how everything is a “game” where every text, every conversation, and every interaction is carefully calculated to be thoughtless and to create this apathetic image that many have come to believe is the idealistic image of someone who’s single. You can’t text someone twice without appearing needy. Texting back straight away means you’re too eager. They took four hours to text you? Well you need to take five hours to text them back. How fucking exhausting does this sound?! Sadly though, we’ve all been victims to this mentality.

I can empathise with this article because I’ve done that. I’ve been there. I’ve played those games. But it’s exhausting. And it’s fake. And it’s not me. Do you ever wonder why you keep attracting the “wrong” partner? Well consider this. What image are you putting out to the universe when you play these games? Are you being authentically you, or are you creating an image of what you think the other person wants? I suspect the latter. So when you behave in ways that you think other people are going to like, not only is that draining and inauthentic, but this other person starts to like this inauthentic version of yourself. And then, months go by and after numerous conflicts have ensued because well, he/she really doesn’t actually like that emotional side of you, you realise that you two just aren’t compatible. And worse, you realise that all of this could have been resolved within the first few days of merely talking. How? Simple. Being your authentic self. Want to send that text? Send it! Miss someone and it’s only been five minutes? Tell them! Chances are that if they don’t like it, they’re not right for you. “You will be too much for some people. Those aren’t your people.” – Lara Frazier. If you want someone to start liking you for who you are, then start being who you are. Stop overthinking things. Be impulsive. Be abrasive. The sooner you figure out that this person isn’t for you, the sooner you can start attracting those that are for you.

This brings me to my next point: change your story. After many failed relationships, it’s not uncommon for people to create clear images of the partner they don’t want. For me, I didn’t want to date another dishonest individual. So that is all that I thought about, dishonest individuals. What image am I putting out to the universe? I’m putting out one of what I don’t want. So what do you think I kept attracting? I kept attracting what I didn’t want merely because that’s what I was thinking about and focusing on. If I tell you not to think about a pink elephant, what are you going to think about? Well, a pink elephant. If I tell myself that I don’t want a dishonest partner, what am I going to think about and thus attract? A dishonest individual. When we change our image, we change our story. After the last girl I was seeing, I became very clear of what it was that I wanted in a partner. I even wrote it down in a document titled, “Putting it out to the universe”. In it, I stated what was important to me, the non-negotiables. Honesty and accountability were top, followed closely by integrity and being loved with one’s entire heart. Other attributes I sought were kindness and respect, not just for me, but for all human life. And within four months, I attracted this exact person. I am now talking to someone who has been nothing but honest and forthcoming with their feelings and who has shown me the most pure and innocent form of love I could have imagined, one in which there are no reservations. We didn’t play games. I straightforwardly confessed my feelings for her, and she to me. And smoothly, things have progressed since.

Now to the next question, are we dating? Not in conventional standards. We are not officially together, but that does not mean we are any less “committed” to one another. How is that so you may ask? Recall my former post about labels and how labels are only bad if you have an attachment to them? Well, admittedly, I have an attachment to the “girlfriend girlfriend” title. For whatever reason, that title internally changes things for me. When someone is my girlfriend, I start to have expectations of how they ought to behave. I become extremely possessive as though I own them. I want that title because it offers me security, but security, as I am learning, is just an illusion. Why did I feel I needed a title for this security? Well, because if we are dating, then it’s understood we won’t talk to anyone else and we certainly won’t be getting with anyone else. This person is mine and mine only. They are something that is good and I want to hold onto that. And that is possessiveness. And that is unattractive. It also suggests that it will be a lot harder for this person to leave because now they will have to “break up” with me. Again, allowing me to hold onto what is good, even if it isn’t good at the time. The truth is, a title shouldn’t change anything. And if it does, then you have to question why you need the title. If it’s for any of the reasons that I mentioned above, is that really a healthy place to be? I define love as loving someone with the freedom to be themselves without the fear of you leaving. And even if you or they do leave, then that is okay too. Because I would not want someone to be with me out of obligation to preserve the sacredness of exclusive dating. I would want them to be with me only if they wanted to be. “If you love a flower, don’t pick it up. Because if you pick it up, it dies and ceases to be what you love. So if you love a flower, let it be. Love is not about possession. It is about appreciation.” – Osho

Here’s the thing about open relationships, they’re not automatically easy. Nor are relationships. We have this unrealistic expectation that we have to be good at something the first time we try it, which just doesn’t make any logical sense. Becoming good at something takes time and it takes mistakes and it takes failures. What I am learning though, is the importance of communication. Speak your mind. Be true to who you are and what you feel. I was challenged this weekend with a situation in which a guy took this girl that I have feelings for out on a date because he wanted to show her “a good time”. I was conflicted. My head wanted her to enjoy everything that this experience had to offer, whatever that entailed. But my heart was a fucking mess. My heart felt possessive. Jealous. Insecure. So, what did I choose to do? I acted on my head and I encouraged her to have a great time, but I later communicated my internal struggle. I intentionally waited until her night was over to divulge these feelings; I did not want to detract away from her experience nor did I want her to worry about reassuring me – I know these insecurities are mine and I take full responsibility for them. Despite not knowing my struggle, she still managed to say and do absolutely everything I needed her to, and better yet, it was genuine and not prompted by her desire to make me feel better.

Where do these insecurities stem from? I recently had a breakthrough the other day. I have played the victim card for so many years of my life. One of the first things I tell anyone that I’m talking to is that I have a big insecurity of being left because essentially everyone that I’ve ever talked to or dated has left me for someone else. Let’s look at this statement for a moment. This language suggests that being left was done to me. It is as though these girls that I was seeing intentionally left me for someone else to hurt me and that is just not so. What they did, they did for them. They did not do to me. Things are not done to you, rather, they are done for you. Our first response when we believe we have been unfairly treated is to blame and externalise. What if we changed that? What if we instead, tried to understand? I recently offered an apology to the last girl that I was seeing for this exact reason. I was so caught up in this victim mentality that I did not try to understand her perspective of pursuing things with another individual. I assumed that it meant I was not a priority and that she didn’t love me; she had done to me what everyone else had done, left me for someone else. But that is just not true. This was not done to me, but for me. Without that experience, I wouldn’t be sharing this extremely beautiful exchange with the current girl that I am talking to.

So what advice can I offer you? Simply, just be yourself. Be your complete, authentic self. Stop the games. Live recklessly. Be wild. Love without reservations. Become clear on what it is you want. Change your image and you’ll change your story. Communicate. Speak your mind. Seek to understand, not blame. And remember, life is done for you and not to you. We’re all just beautiful creatures trying to figure out this thing called life and what better place to start than being exactly who you are.

If what I have written resonates with any of you, please check out Kaleb Bollen's Facebook page, he is the inspiration behind many of these thoughts.

Also, here is the link to the article I referenced in my first paragraph:

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