Does our obsession with casual dating stem from actually being hopeless romantics?
We are given so many choices and therefore so many more opportunity for the perfect date, the perfect partner, the perfect hookup, the perfect sex, the perfect night out, the perfect conversation. Is keeping things casual a coping mechanism in which to experience it all without having to diminish choices and commit to any one opportunity? Is casual dating actually indicative of being hopeless romantics searching for something ideal but ultimately unrealistic???
I think there really is some truth in it. I mean let’s look at the facts, based purely on the sheer amount of romantic media available to consume, our generation has been drowning in the stuff since the early 1990s. We grew up with Disney. We witnessed the boom of the rom com in the 1990s and early 2000s. We were #blessed enough to See Titanic in theaters. We were the generation in which other people’s relationships became public a la social media. We can creep on any relationship we want. We can compare and compare until we want to throw up. We can have any amount of romantic content right now all day every day.
More so than any generation before us, we have been privy to more romantic saturation than ever before. And if I had to guess we have been influenced by it. We have been conditioned to expect love. That there is someone special, “the one” if you will, out there for us all. And when we meet them it was will be instant fireworks, chemistry, mind-blowing sex, feverish, all-consuming love. Perhaps we would not admit these standards quite so blazenly, but admit it, this is what we are hoping and yearning for! This is the fantasy we have all been crafting in our heads in some way or another. We are all just waiting for our “meet cute.”
Likewise, we are a generation who has been given so many relationship/dating choices it is like going to a Vegas buffet and telling someone they can only pick one thing for the rest of their life. We millennials want it all and we want it now. This is not a nasty symptom of entitlement, it is normal response to a generation who has been fed a steady diet of instant gratification and Disney since they were children.
Via dating apps I can have sex in 30 min or less like it’s a fucking pizza delivery! And if he is not the one I can peruse no less than hundreds of dating sites and applications and filter through any number of specifications. I could date a black, Muslim, communist if that was my thing. Or a virgin, lion tamer if that got me off. And if that didn’t work we have so many communication tools and transportation networks that literally anyone on the planet could be a possibility. I could date someone in Mumbai via skype. I could whatsapp with my foreign lover in Geneva if I wanted to.
The world is literally our oyster and while this is an incredible testament to advancements in technology its got us a little fucked up. When given so many choices the worst thing we could seem to do would be to settle, especially not when there are 7 billion people out there who might be “better”. It is an anxious persons’ worst nightmare!
Why on earth would we settle down with the seemingly average bloke in front of us when there could be someone cooler, smarter, funnier, more attractive just around the corner! It is unnerving! And worst of all, we are more likely to be dissatisfied with our partner with the knowledge that there are loads more where they came from who might be better in bed, or more attentive to our needs, or make more money or be better listeners!
So what is a privileged millennial to do!? Casual dating starts to make sense when we factor in how many choices we have to sift through. Would it not be better to sample many options and keep all our burners a lit while we weed our way through the crowds of elgible, young singles? And it is better to keep things casual and free of commitment in order to alleviate ourselves from the impending damage of a broken heart while we look for “the one”.
Unfortunately this system too closely resembles a broken HR process. We sift through the choices like job applications, reduced to physical features and career choices and universities. Yet, the people we date are not resumes in a pile for an entry level job. The staggering amount of choice leaves us unfulfilled and entitled. We begin to take other humans for granted, feeling that for every hot girl out there, there are at least a hundred more with bigger tits and cuter friends to rebound with. And so the options begin to lose their humanity.
All the while our search for “the one” revolves around our needs and wants, rather than partnership or sacrifice. And while we should not settle, our list of deal-breakers grows and grows. We need to stop and ask ourselves whether we are looking for an idea or a human being.
When our list of deal-breakers starts to outrun the things we really want and value in a life partner, it is time to ask ourselves whether we are the ones interrupting our own search and who is the search for love really about? Is it about our happiness and self-actualization, about finding an accessory to our lives, or is about finding another deeply flawed human in which to share life with? One in which we can sacrifice for and love unconditionally and root for despite a laundry list of flaws?
I recently saw this film where the characters talk about why they loved someone and they said that you like someone “because,” as in you liked someone because they were cute, charming and funny, but you love someone “in-spite,” as in you love them inspite of their annoying habits, their lame jokes, and their bald patch. This just hit me right, smack in the feels. How refreshing to see love as seeking out a flawed person instead of the perfect person, because that is the view we all need to take.
The perfect guy or girl doesn’t exist, so give up the chase now. Seriously. And the longer you continue the idealized chase, the harder it becomes to loosen your grip on those pre-determined ideals to fit your fantasy. The carousel of casual dating actually decreases our ability to be content or fulfilled by a mere mortal.
We all claim that casual dating is “just for fun” and “nothing serious.” But frankly I don’t buy it. I think casual dating is more a defense mechanism in which to safely search for THE ONE without the fear of a broken heart. The sheer amount of choices offer a buffer to stifle a fear of ending up alone with 27 cats. We date like it is a race to get from one choice to next, lest we miss someone “good.”
Somehow we think we have beaten the system, that we really can have it all, but we are all really still just a bunch of kids hoping for a happily ever after. We pretend like casual encounters and speed dating and random hook-ups are enough to satiate us, when we are all just hopeless romantics yearning for someone perfect. When are we going to figure out that perfect does not exist????
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