Monday, March 10, 2014

What Do You Hate About Modern Dating?

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I'll be honest. I'm not much of a hater. Hate is entirely too strong of a word to describe what is usually either an annoyance or simple dislike. In addition, as I have gotten a bit older, I'm less charmed by the idea of bitching and moaning as a past-time. Or even as a warped mechanism of bonding with others. In other words, if I'm being critical, or offering judgments, I try to have a good reason for doing so.

With that said, here's a short list of my modern dating dislikes and/or annoyances:

1. The shopping mentality so many people seem to have. Treating people like items in a catalog rather than as living, breathing human beings.

2. The obsession with "instant, mama said knock you out chemistry." Seriously, if your aim is to be struck by lightning, go stand on a rooftop during a rainstorm with a pitchfork in your hand.

3. All the pressure some folks place on first dates. I used to be one of those folks, trying to "act perfect" and spending the entire time obsessing about every last similarity and difference.

4. The plethora of one sized fits all dating gurus. I get it. People like to be told exactly what to do. But seriously, when you keep failing to find a good partner, and are swamped in self loathing or endless self improvement efforts as a result of thinking someone else knows better, it's time to stop drinking the kool aid.

5. How easy trivial things seem to trump everything else. Things like being an inch or two "shorter" than desired, or a few pounds heavier, or not having the high powered job that supposedly demonstrates personal ambition. This goes part and parcel with our consumer culture, which glorifies materialism, celebrities, and fairy tale romances in ways that our ancestors never had.

What about you? What drives you nuts about modern dating?

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  1. I just went back on OKC yesterday (pure accident, as usual - logged in to redo my questions in preparation for a future comeback, and next I know, I'm talking to five people and have a date set for tonight and another one for Friday - the folks on Moxie's blog would be proud of me). So give me a week or two and I'll be back with my hate list.

    Have to add that I'm starting slow - neither of the guys I'm meeting this week sounds like relationship material - just getting my feet wet after a break.

    Your list sounds pretty complete, but on top of obsession with instant chemistry, I would add the insistence that common interests equal having a potential to be a good couple. Yes, you, me, and a few million other people like Pulp Fiction, isn't that a match made in heaven? let's all of us get together and make out to celebrate this amazing coincidence. Have to admit, until recently, I was in the same camp. I guess my last relationship taught me that two people can share every interest and hobby under the sun - including an interest in developing new hobbies - and still be doomed as a couple if there's no personal compatibility.

    1. The shared interests issue is another one of those things that is poorly interpreted. And then people hitch their hopes on that poor interpretation.

      There are a few flavors to this. First off, the idea that shared interests = good long term relationship potential. Which obviously isn't the case. I do think it's really helpful to have some overlapping interests, because you'll be more likely to enjoy your time together and perhaps find something you both like to do regularly together. But no level of shared interests really gives a great prediction as to how well you'd mesh as a couple over the long haul. It's a small factor, as opposed to a vitally important one.

      Secondly, there's the focus on highly specific shared interests that have no real "connection depth." Such as you both like the same handful of authors or movies or handful of bands. Which after you've shared that information, and maybe had a few conversations about it, leads to a big so what? Maybe you get to go to the next Lord of the Rings movie together, but odds are, that's about the extent to it's value in terms of your relationship. Unless moviegoing in general is a shared interest, then it might mean something more. However, it's still - in the end - just a shared interest. Which is helpful, but not the most important thing to consider.

      I think overall people seem to neglect the fact that those overlap points shared early on are usually just entry points. If you both like the Simpsons, for example, then you have something safe to talk about. Which might lead you naturally to other topics. That's a good thing. It's exactly why folks giving advice about online profiles usually say "be specific."

      The problem comes when those entry points are blown up in the mind, and folks start thinking they're soul mates or whatever. I know I did this more than a few times myself. It's kind of funny looking back at it all.

    2. As I've already mentioned, my last relationship was based ONE HUNDRED PERCENT on shared interests (plus the physical). I guess we both thought that, if we'd have enough things to do together, personal compatibility would follow. And it never did.

      I guess my epiphany finally came when I was re-reading an email he sent to me after the breakup, in response to my requests to give me his reasons for leaving. The email went something like "I do not have the answer for you. I greatly enjoyed doing A, B, C, 1, 2, 3 (insert long list of shared activities and hobbies) together, not to mention the physical, but still something was missing from the connection and I cannot figure out what it was". Duh, the entire personal-compatibility element was missing! We were completely different people, and towards the end, nine times out of ten, each of us misunderstood whatever the other one said. That's what was missing. And it should've come first, BEFORE the shared interests. Two years together and we still never figured it out. At least he got the vibe that something was wrong and it was time to end things. I never even got that.

      I still don't advocate starting a relationship with someone one has zero common interests with, but it is definitely a lower priority to me now - I will be looking at how we click personality-wise first, at how we "get" each other, and only after that, at the interests. I may still have to turn down a man I click with that I have no common interests with, but one thing I won't do is go into a relationship based on common interests alone.

      I also liked Natalie Lue's post on Baggage Reclaim on core values. I tried sitting down and listing my own core values after reading her post; and then went over my list and tried to figure out how many of those I shared with my ex. I came up with nine or ten of my own values, out of which we shared maybe two. No wonder things didn't work out. So again, next time, I will be looking for a potential partner's core values before I take any of the shared interests into consideration. Yes it will narrow my pool down by a large margin, but oh well.

      At least, this is where I stand right now. Continuous learning and growth is one of my core values; so my views may change as I go along.

    3. Core values are so much more important. Especially because interests can change or shift in importance over time. I used to be a major music hound. Went to concerts all the time. Was always buying new albums and talking about band X, Y or Z. But these days, it's barely a blip for me. I still love a good song, but that's about as far as it goes these days. Core values last. They define how you are in the world and how you direct yourself. Way more important.

  2. Oh, oh, I have another one - the pressure to find someone and get off the site as quickly as possible. The underlying suspicion that there must be something wrong with a person if they're on the site too long. It gets ridiculous - last time I went online, someone emailed me in the beginning, and then again about four weeks later - "I see you're still here, so you haven't been able to find someone, so why don't you give me a chance"... yes it's been a whole four weeks and I am still here. The clock is ticking, I know! Shame on me for not having found a life partner in four weeks. Geez.

    Again, I used to be that person too. Then I learned and grew up.

    1. To Goldie: On the internet I've seen commenters complaining the same people are on the same sites....year after year. These commenters seem oblivious to the fact the only reason they see the same people on the same sites year after year, is because THEY are on the same sites year after year. (Throwing hands up in the air and shaking my head). I think you may have written once Goldie about an older gentleman who seemed to believe *paying* $20 per month for a dating site entitled him to find a woman (presumably younger) right off? Hope springs eternal?

      I haven't tried OLD. The last few years I have been living in mid- Ohio. Rural. 10 miles min (each way) to meet for lunch at a mom and pop place. 20 mi. (each way) to meet for a glass of wine at something like Applebees or similar chain. So far I haven't been motivated enough. Smile.

      But I do see these ads from time to time for a dating service: for folks who aren't in a city. Intriguing. But as I get older (and taking care of older parents) I'm reluctant to hitch my cart to someone who is tied to their land---far away from doctors and shopping. Trivial perhaps, but this is my current dating dilemma.

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    3. I deleted the comment with your e-mail in it Goldie.

      "These commenters seem oblivious to the fact the only reason they see the same people on the same sites year after year, is because THEY are on the same sites year after year. (Throwing hands up in the air and shaking my head)."

      LOL! So true.

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