When Did Dating Get So Complicated?

Complicated Relationships
Complicated Relationships

If you're anything like me, in your 30's, single, and ready to settle down, you might find yourself wondering… When did dating get so complicated? Remember what it was like 10 years ago? You met someone, you got along, you found them attractive, and well…then you were a couple.

Some of the complications have come with age. Look around at the dating pool of 30-somethings. It's dwindled down quite a bit. At this point, you've probably noticed most of your friends are married, engaged, having kids, or at the very least…coupled up. People haven't really started getting divorced yet. There's not many of us left! I'd guess there are more singles in the pool at ages 40-50 than there are from 30-40.

In addition, at least for women, our priorities have shifted with age. At 22, all we wanted was a cute guy who had killer flip-cup skills and would split a bottle of Skoal vodka with us. We didn't care that he worked at Starbucks, because, hell…you yourself worked as a waitress at Ponderosa. We didn't worry about whether he could support a family, be a good father, or get along with our Dad. Now, while we still need to be attracted to a mate, the looks category has taken a back seat to things like stability, ethics, and paternal instincts. Take me for example, here is one automatic deal-breaker. I won't date someone that doesn't have a good job…it doesn't matter what that job is (as long as it's legal), but I need to know that one day I can stay home to raise my children and live comfortably. I know we're in a recession, but it doesn't matter. No job = no date. So as we age, not only has our dating pool suffered a major drought, we have to weed through a mess, searching for someone who meets our qualifications.

And how do you weed people out? Why, facebook of course!!!

Facebook is in neck-in-neck race with internet dating sites to ruin our lives. If you have ever been on match.com, eHarmony.com, plentyoffish.com, etc, you know what I'm talking about. Let me make a little side note that I have witnessed some great relationships come off these sites, but that has not changed my overall perspective.

Remember what life was like before google, facebook and match.com? No? Me either. I mean, HOW did we go on a date with a man if we couldn't stalk him beforehand. Every time I go on a date my friends ask “did you google him?” And I want to answer: “Yes. It came up as Joe Smith: chronic drug user, cheater, doesn't floss his teeth, huge beer gut.” Come on people, what do you think you're gonna find? Now, Google, of course, is just the first step in a long line of internet-driven psychotic behaviors.

Google is the least of our problems. God forbid you actually have a good date, and you both are on facebook. First of all, you'd think that making the decision to add someone on facebook is like trying to decide the fate of the free world. “What does it mean?” “Should I wait for him to add me first.” “How long do I wait to send a friend request?” We are seriously a bunch of idiots. And when you do take that huge step and add the person as your friend, you have a whole lot of work ahead of you. You then have to meticulously untag photos, change your bio, and make sure you don't say anything that could be misconstrued as stupid, desperate, ignorant, etc on your status update. After you censor your own profile, you then become what is now known as a socially-acceptable stalker and go through his entire profile with a fine-toothed comb, over-analyzing every single post he's ever gotten from any female. “Who is that girl? Why is his arm around her in that photo? Is he wearing KEDS??? That BETTER be his cousin.…” You constantly check your chat box to see if he's online, and if he will send you a message. You get pulled over for texting while driving, and then try to explain to the officer that you weren't texting, you were checking your boyfriend's facebook page every 13 seconds. Just when you think he is ignoring you, you decide that you need to have “the talk.” You know – the one where you discuss if you are going to change your relationship status. Because as well all know, no relationship is to be taken seriously unless you are “in a relationship” on facebook. The day you change your status to “in a relationship,” you even get a little heart on your profile and all your friends can “like” it!! OH GOODIE!!!

awkward dating

Facebook is in neck-in-neck race with internet dating sites to ruin our lives. If you have ever been on match.com, eHarmony.com, plentyoffish.com, etc, you know what I'm talking about. Let me make a little side note that I have witnessed some great relationships come off these sites, but that has not changed my overall perspective. You know what advice I got most often when I was on these sites was? “You should be dating a lot of people.” And, WHY would that be? Obviously because everyone else on that site is doing the same thing. So basically we are all just dating a bunch of people, never giving one person an actual chance; because we are so busy trying to figure out who is best, and if there could be someone better out there in match.com land. All the members could probably play six degrees of separation and all be linked together somehow. The worst part about these sites is that when you go to someone's profile, it says when they were last online. So you are constantly looking to see how often, and the last time they were online. If it was within a week, and they weren't on sending YOU a message, you assume they are seeing other people. Then you get pissed and start sending off winks random-fire as if it's some sort of revenge. Of course you can never ask the person if they are dating other people, that's like match.com suicide. And the worst thing that can happen to you: he's “online now!!” Nobody knows the proper way to handle this situation. Do you say hello, do you ignore him, or do you send a psychotic sounding message like “how many other girls are you talking to, you fucking prick?” Sigh. Luckily I gave up internet dating before it caused me serious permanent mental damage.

So, what's the answer? How do we un-complicate dating?? Obviously social media has taken our lives by storm, affecting everything from corporate marketing to our relationships. There's just simply no way to go back to basics. I guess we just have to live and learn how to use these tools to our advantage. But I just can't figure out how… Thoughts?

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  1. You hit the nail on the head, my friend! The older I get, the more I hate dating. Everyone has baggage, and technology makes it easier to cheat (i.e. Sexting, Internet dating). I feel like I can't trust anyone I get involved with anymore. :/

  2. I think one of the major challenges is that so many of us have extremely high, and sometimes unrealistic expectations. We expect that someone has every last category of their lives "in order," usually when we don't, ourselves, have everything in order.

    And just to dig at your no job=no date thing a bit, I'm a guy in my mid-30s who is semi-unemployed right now (I'm bringing some money in through writing, but it's only due to savings that I'm keeping afloat). I seem to run into a lot of people like you who use that piece of info. alone to dismiss potential dates. Never mind that you know nothing about my work history, variable skills, work ethic, or future plans. Before my job disappeared, if I found a woman who otherwise seemed to be interesting enough to contact, but didn't have a job, I would try and find out what happened and where she might be going. Because the lack of a job might be a temporary situation for someone who would, otherwise, be financially stable and help support a family.

    My point in bringing that up is that if the pool is already smaller – which I also think it is for us – then your deal breakers better be thought out. Drug users are easy outs for me, as are people who speak of heavy drinking and partying. In other words, I'm more interested in lifestyle patterns rather than things that might be short term issues. And that's what I would say is how we can use social media and dating sites – to find that kind of information, as opposed to worrying about what every photo someone posts might mean, or what they are doing on the dating site today.

    At the same time, being able to gather all that information about someone either before you meet them, or in the early stages of getting to know each other, means that differences which would come out more naturally are suddenly staring you in the face before you even have a connection developed. Some of those differences turn out to be trivial, or might even be helpful within a relationship, but because you don't really know them, there's a tendency to fixate on that stuff and use it to dismiss someone. Meanwhile, there's also more opportunity to fixate on all the similarities you have with someone – through all that information gathering again – which can lead to missing out on red flags that might doom a relationship.

    So, it's a tricky balance. Sometimes, I think we just have to muddle through it all, and not worry too much about when we are going to meet someone to be with.

    My recent post Dating Multilple People at the Same Time: Some Notes

    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree that it is shallow to judge someone based on their job, or in this case, lack thereof. I wasn't referring to those who have lost their jobs due to the economy. I was more referring to the guys who lack motivation, and are perfectly happy in a low level/low paying job. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Of course you can find love online, but like all dating it requires an investment of time to find the right one — as my new humorous YouTube video "What I Learned from Online Dating" shares. http://tinyurl.com/3q9lazx But one fun tip that didn't make the cut: avoid profilers who wear t-shirts with an animal silhouette on it. They were dander incarnate in my book.

  4. I think that too many of us are dragging around baggage from our pasts into new situations. It's as though, you meet a great person and all of the sudden our Spidey senses start tingling because we cannot believe that someone so awesome could possibly be single. Then, we run and enter a relationship with the obvious train wreck of a person because they wear their crazy all out in the open. Thanks again for posting this article.

  5. I think that too many of us are dragging around baggage from our pasts into new situations. It's as though, you meet a great person and all of the sudden our Spidey senses start tingling because we cannot believe that someone so awesome could possibly be single. Then, we run and enter a relationship with the obvious train wreck of a person because they wear their crazy all out in the open. Thanks again for posting this article.

  6. I agree with Nathan's statement. The lifestyle one leads is what ultimately will determine a couples' compatibility in the long term. In the short term you can party, go out and do all sorts of crazy stuff. Eventually the pizzazz of that new relationship sheds and you're left with a lot of work. Then what? You discover your lover hates excercise… Can you deal with that if you're an active health nut? Do you need that person to be jogging right be side you? I'm just sayin' there's much more to consider.

  7. OK… 14 years heterosexual married guy over here, BUT I’m a dating coach, so I guess I can chime in. It’s become complicated because times have become rough these days. I have observed from my clients that when the going gets tough, only the tough survives.

    I might add that my clients are females, so this will put into perspective why some statements tend to lean towards one side.

    When a guy goes to a social gathering, they’re there to have a pleasant conversation with a female and hopefully continue that connection long after the event. There is competition among the fellas for that female, and the ones that are douches will bring their said game to light and say, “I am lion. Hear me roar.” The looking for a score will be a bit more savvy and subtle, so as to distinguish themselves from the douches. The stable onlooker looking for good company will wander to the safe zone of the center of the event (surprisingly not the outskirts of the venue) in order to find the one being ignored, and having a 360 degree view from his vantage point. There are also the ones such as myself who have no intentions of dating anyone at that event (except for my lovely wife of course) observing one of the things making dating complicated: forced to bring your A game, in order to compete.

    I coach my clients on reading the guy, and subtly break his A game for a moment, test control questions & statements to get baseline responses in body language, tone of voice, and finally words, and then have control over the conversation …all without the guys picking up on these. No, I’m not breaking “The Man Code,” but merely coaching my clients on The Art of Conversation. (These skills are often used in business negotiations as well, and that’s how it began for me as “DateDoc” over years ago.)

    Dating has become clouded because there’s fake conversations in order to survive the competition. What will separate me from the others? What is the takeaway I can bring that will let me make the short list before the event is over. Conversely, how can I tell who is more genuine from the ones gutsy enough to speak to me? Is that person making that up? Bring back The Art if Conversation, and make it a fun event, seeing how dating is really about engaging in conversation to find out who is real and who is really wasting your time. You’ll find practicing at social events will make you more comfortable at practicing on one-on-one dates, and even provides key lessons later in, say, a relationship with that person…as you WILL continue to date, errr, have conversations in many instances!

    Look forward to an upcoming TV show and a book on the above… ๐Ÿ˜‰


  8. Being a 29 year old male is also complicated. I have an excellent job where I make loads of money and work from home, only 35 hours a week, and at any time I want, which means that besides money I have time flexibility. I’m also what people consider a good guy, I never cheated on any girlfriend, I’m smart, highly educated, and I also play sports seriously, which means I also have a good body and I’m a healthy, responsible person.

    But, I am bald. Just like the author of this article says ‘no job = no date’, a high percentage of women go by the rule ‘no hair = no date’. So it’s been almost 2 years for me now without dating, my pool of candidates is extremely small, not only due to the age transition that the author talks about, but also because of a big physical turn off for most women.

    Maybe I have to wait till I’m 40? ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. You know, I think that’s interesting. Although most women I know won’t go out of their way to list “bald” as a type they are attracted to, I know several (including myself) who dated bald guys who were confident and sexy, and recognized it as a potentially sexy attribute–if the person themselves is sexy. I’m usually very skeptical of someone who says that it’s only one physical attribute that is somehow preventing them from dating; usually one flaw, even a major one, is not going to be a deal breaker for *every* potential dating partner.

  9. When I hear “I need a guy with a good job” I tend to hear “I want someone to pay for me for the rest of my life.” I’m caught in between because I know women won’t go for a guy with a decent amount of cash…which always tempts me into labeling a whole bunch of them as whores, but I also know that’s simply the way of the world. At least the US anyway.

    I met someone recently and really hit it off with her during our outing. We had a ton of fun, I was direct and truthful without being overbearing (I think anyway) and she found me attractive. Yet still nothing. When I ask other females what kind of faults I have, they always shrug because they think I’m an attractive and nice enough guy.

    It feels as though people WANT things to be complicated and filled with needless bullshit. It seems as though the only way to get into a relationship, as dysfunctional as it may be, is to be ripped and have huge amount of cash. Also, be a bit of a prick for good measure. Not too much of one. But just enough to strike that cord that keeps them wondering “Why am I with this him when there are so many other nice guys?” They always then seem to follow up with “I don’t know what it is but I just love him.”

    1. This comment reminds me of that scene from ‘The Matrix’ where they explain how they made the Matrix perfect, but humans were resistant to how perfect it all was. So they rebuilt it, made it shitty and people fell in line.

      In other words I tend to agree with you. I think I’m a nice enough guy, but I am a bit of an asshole. I’m sometimes shitty to people for the sake of it so they don’t walk all over me; even if I don’t think they would. The same applies to women I’m dating, too. And that sucks, because I seem to remember a time that I was a “nicer” person. Women don’t like punching bags; women don’t like to walk all over men, yet it’s human nature to assert ourselves. It’s okay. It’s not just something that women do. Ultimately, women want to feel a sense of safety from their relationships and security even it sometimes comes from a place of insecurity.

      Sorta fucked up.

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