Dating in the Age of Distraction
BY TAYLOR WADE
I always met my boyfriends organically. I met my first boyfriend in high school, my second through a family member, and my third through an accidental rib punch at a bar. Now I find myself directly in the midst of a whole new dating era – the era of digital dating.
Considering I was single and I did work in the dating industry, I decided to give it a whirl (it was for research, right?). I thought, if I’m going to see what all of the online dating commotion is about, I’m going to do it thoroughly. I signed up for just about every single website and app – Plenty of Fish, Match, eHarmony, Tinder, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, Hinge, and OKCupid. I could write a whole article solely based on the pros and cons of each. Instead, I'm going to write about the huge shift taking place in the attitudes of singles – the "grass is always greener" attitude that comes as a side dish to the main course of online dating.
We are inundated with a limitless stream of swipes from dating apps, and when our thumbs fatigue, we rely on matches being pushed to us via email and text. With something as important as finding love, you want to be sure you have tested all of your options before settling down for the rest of your life, right? However, with this approach, you could test your options literally for the rest of your life.
Back when things were simple, you would meet your spouse due to living in the same apartment building, attending the same Church, or having grandparents that were best friends. You were introduced to one person, and you dated that one person for a period of time – there were no distractions, and it was memorable. Or, you would meet someone by chance. You were both in the same place at the same time and you were lucky to meet each other. It had a serendipitous aurora to it all.
Flash forward to today – singles are easily accessible (and disposable). There's no unanticipated, serendipitous encounter – it's greatly anticipated, with the knowledge that if the date goes south, there's another option waiting on your phone. Our dating world is becoming much less romanticized.
That doesn't mean there's not an upswing to having hundreds of thousands of potential matches at our fingertips, if we use it properly. We must know when to pursue a potentially great match and when to return to the drawing board. We must give our dates an opportunity to breathe in order to thrive – or turn inert.
What is a reasonable amount of time?
By your third date, you should know whether you would like to continue dating or cut the cord. The first date is for making sure there is a mutual attraction – chemistry, if you will. For the lucky ones, there may even be a first date kiss to really test the chemistry levels. Date number two should be more comfortable since you both have established that there is a mutual attraction – there was an initial spark that propelled you into your second rendezvous. With your guards lowered a little further, conversation should flow more naturally and willingly. Then comes the third date. You have scratched the surface, but now you want to crack it. You begin exploring your emotional and intellectual compatibility through more in-depth conversation. By this point, you also become aware of his quirks, habits, and traits that interlace his character.
At this point, it's important to decipher your reasons for moving forward or bringing things to a halt. Your reasoning should have substance – ie: incompatible lifestyles or viewpoints – and shouldn't include anything along the lines of, "He ate his cauliflower with a spoon, not a fork!" Make sure you have good reason to move forward or bring things to an end.
What are good reasons to move forward?
There should be chemistry and compatibility. Chemistry lies in the butterflies that flutter just before you see him, and compatibility takes the form of a best friend – you share similar outlooks on life. Other important factors not to be overlooked include respect, trust, authenticity, and honesty.
What are good reasons to end things?
In my article, 7 Signs You're Dating The Wrong Person, I outline seven common signs you are dating the wrong person –
1. You Don’t Share The Same Viewpoints On Important Topics
2. You Don’t Share Compatible Lifestyles
3. You’re Putting In More Effort
4. You Don’t Feel Respected
5. You Don’t Feel Inspired
6. You Wouldn’t Normally Be Friends
7. You Can’t Be Completely Open And Honest
Obviously, it may take more than three dates to determine if he will be the one to inspire you to finally write that novel you've been neglecting. However, keeping a realistic framework of deal-makers and breakers in the forefront of your mind during the dating process can help you hold on to the keepers and discard the duds.