What do your online dating routines say about what you really want?
The next time you’re looking for “swipe-right” prospects, it might be worth taking a minute to ask yourself what you’re really up to, especially if you’ve felt that you’re looking for one thing–romance, relationship and love–but keep winding up with, well, more of the same – casual sex, promises that “I’ll text you tomorrow,” and the usual disappointment.
Online dating can be compared to advertising, i.e., image management and perception rather than reality. But if you’re selling an identity that isn’t really you and the buyer ends up disappointed, leaving you disappointed, it’s probably time for a closer look.
We could start by looking at our dating habits the way a researcher would, i.e., with curiosity and a desire to learn, assessing options, setting up “experiments” (dates); and figuring out what really suits me instead of jumping at the first person who gives me a rush. Or we could continue going from one person to the next, trying out various roles that fall into the category of “relationship.” These roles can be anything from “love at first sight” to simply making sure the sex is good. Any unreflective choice risks repeating dysfunctional patterns of relatedness that leave us where we were before, including the disappointment and frustration.
Wanting–and not wanting–you.
Don’t get the wrong idea: sex play and adventure can be healthy and fun. After all, erotic connection can be a long way from deep commitment. But if your experiences keep leaving you vaguely disappointed, maybe you’re deliberately avoiding asking yourself what you’re looking for.
On the other hand, disappointing dating patterns that include faceless advertising while ignoring genuine desire and needs could be a powerful indicator that our mating patterns are unconsciously but deliberately constructed to eliminate the risk of real connection. In other words, the approach we take is a set up for what the authors call “irrelationship.”
A purported “added value” of Tinder, Grindr and Scruff is that they can lure us into believing that choosing such “erotically-driven” apps protects us from the danger of actually falling for someone. Well–let the buyer beware: the authors know more than our share of folks—girls and guys—who trafficked in knee-to-navel shots, did the geolocation math, hooked up, and ended up marrying what was attached to that knee-to-navel. Irrelationship was no match for the whole persons who came with those alluringly anonymous body parts.
To be with or not to be with: that is the question.
So give yourself a chance to step back and ask what dating and mating, hanging and banging, loving and leaving, says about what you think you really want as opposed to what you’re accustomed to.
If you look and listen closely, you will become increasingly attuned to your desires and needs. And that gives you a new advantage: the ability to exercise the option of hitting the “pause” button rather than “fast-forward” or “reverse” when you meet a person who really interests you. Instead of the instant excitement of knee-to-navel pics (metaphorical or actual), which, likely as not, may throw others off the scent of who you really are, that “pause” button may just improve your chances of getting what you really want.