Discover more from Gabrielle Morse, LMHC Psychotherapy Blog
Finding a Serious Relationship in a Casual Dating World
In my work and in my life, I often hear people say, I wish I lived in a time when dating was simpler. I hear, I want a relationship but I can’t deal with dating apps. These apps can reward superficiality and facilitate inauthentic conversations. This instills the value, if I look a certain way or have something witty to say then I’ll hook someone, which can lead today’s dating experience to feel sterile and unfulfilling.
Modern dating is a complex and ever-changing landscape. With the rise of online dating and social media, the way we meet and interact with potential partners has changed dramatically. There are pros and cons to the modern dating scene. Online dating makes it easier than ever to meet new people. On the other hand, it can be difficult to find someone who you are truly compatible with when you are constantly bombarded with options.
The user experience that online dating apps create mirrors many of the other addicting apps we have on our phones, like TikTok or Instagram. We are dopamine-driven and therefore drawn to things that bring us immediate gratification. Our preference for a “quick fix” has perpetuated the casual dating trend. It is easy to chat via text and meet up casually, especially with a busy schedule. It is also just as easy to end a connection, exit a situation, and ghost someone. We can play the field with little to no expectations or feelings involved. Dating apps make dating quick and accessible, and give the illusion that we can find a relationship faster.
Dating apps have perpetuated the idea that there is always more. We have learned that there are endless prospects at our fingertips, leading us to feel that there could be someone better out there for us. We think if I don’t keep looking, I will miss him or her. It’s similar to ordering six pairs of shoes knowing you’re going to send five back. Dating six people at once makes it difficult to give the time, effort, and attention it takes to develop a meaningful connection. It also creates a foundation for comparison. When we compare qualities and who checks which box, we lose sight of authentic, meaningful connections. What determines why you stay with one person and discard the other five?
So what should you do if you are looking for a serious relationship in a culture where casual dating is prevalent and rising?
Often, there is no way of ascertaining what someone’s desired outcome is, so this can lead to repeatedly engaging with people who are looking for something different. This may lead to feeling defeated. Also, the normalization of an absence of an emotional attachment has led to people feeling like they need to play it cool, be casual, and not be too much in order to be found desirable.
Focus on situations that allow you to develop and foster meaningful connections. The impacts of the pandemic and other recent events have led to an increase in loneliness. Is there a greater degree of reliance on our phones because we’re not so accustomed to being out in the world again? Has dating become more casual and disconnected? If you’re feeling this way – I’d recommend doing the opposite – be around humans and connect meaningfully.
Don’t write someone off quickly – this has become too easy. Give people second chances, meet them in person.
Be your authentic self – while you may feel afraid of rejection, this is the best way to attract the right people.
It is a numbers game – if it doesn’t work with one, get back out there. Give yourself the opportunity to meet all types of people. There are people who are looking for the same thing as you.
It is trial and error – don’t get discouraged, it doesn’t work until it works. Prepare yourself for many incompatible matches – and that’s ok.
Try not to personalize and internalize when people don’t want to move forward in a relationship. They are simply not the right people for you.
Challenge the scarcity mindset – we are conditioned to think that there is not enough “success” to go around, but recognize that there are plenty of great people out there.
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