Online dating and the American way…

I was talking to my friend the other night about dating and how unnatural it felt at this point in our lives.
“I know what I want now, and I’m not sure if that is making things easier or harder for me.  I meet people I am mildly interested in, but no one that I really feel an intense connection with.  It’s hard to know whether I want to go on a second or third date with them…I mean I like them and could potentially feel more for them but I don’t feel anything so much initially.”
I remind her about how we met in college and how it wasn’t necessarily this instant bond we created; it took a lot of time to build a strong relationship together.  “That’s just it,” I say.  “Relationships take time; creating emotional bonds with another person not only takes energy, but also time.”
We talked then about American culture.  We Americans are not used to taking time to achieve what we want.  We are a very quantitative culture.  Conversations with my girlfriends soon become one of: well, we’ve been on four dates so far and he has called me 8 times and texts me at least once a day etc.  We have this little habit of trying to quantify what it is to have a relationship, to be cared for, to justify our feelings.
dating site
I just saw this Ke$ha music video where she featured the dating site, Plenty of Fish.  Dating sites have become very popular among Generation Y, the generation that tends to be more comfortable with technology.  It seems so counterintuitive to me that human beings are trying to date in this way.  To each his or her own when it comes to dating, but to me sorting through a bunch of men’s pictures and profiles (while I really wish it were that easy) seems so unnatural.  After all, I think my most successful relationships didn’t have the qualities I could pick out so easily on a list, but each in his own way had something I needed to experience at that moment of my life, whether or not I was aware I needed it and I ended up lasting years with them.  I think we have a tendency to think we know what we want, but do we know what we need?
Even the idea of choosing a boyfriend or girlfriend like we’re picking out our furniture feels awkward, and yet I feel it’s a uniquely American thing.  As analytical beings we want to measure our options and choose the one that fits our individual needs best, but I’d be wary when it comes to doing this with relationships.  Relationships are not business transactions that can be measured so simply.
Quantifying when it comes to relationships isn’t always a bad thing.  Much can be told of the seriousness of a relationship when it surpasses the one year mark or the five year mark.  However, when you are just casually dating, you cannot expect to have deep feelings of trust developed after just three dates.  That being the case, how can one discern whether or not to continue seeing someone or not?  Who is worth the time investment?  Who isn’t?
On a side note there is this blog that is HILARIOUS and superbly written that I highly recommend you check out about online dating.   Two cousins share their experiences dating online and then document the good, the bad and the ugly for your entertainment: http://www.thisonetimeonmatch.blogspot.com/

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  1. Lizzie - March 4, 2011

    FANTASTIC! We love having you as a reader! And online dating IS awkward and can be very unnatural. But to me, it's a numbers game… when I wasn't doing the Match thing I NEVER dates. At least now I get out a couple times a week and have actually made a few good friends. But it's definitely not for everyone :) .