First I would like to tell you that you are an exceptional writer. I am a 43-year-old single mother of three (24-, 22- and a 13- year old). I have experienced the ups and downs of internet dating. You are right, dating in my generation was much easier than today. Your generation hides behind a screen instead of face to face conversations in public places. My question to you is, if we would take away the internet and texting how would your generation meet that special someone?
First and foremost, thank you for your kind words and for sharing your experience. Moreover, thank you for your thought-provoking question. I have to admit that I’ve given this same question some thought on a few occasions, and for a while it seemed impossible to come up with an answer which made me think that maybe the concept itself was impossible.
My personal experience is as follows: I met my first serious boyfriend while in high school. We managed to stay together for six years, and there wasn’t even a shadow of a doubt in my mind about him being “the one.” As we all know, life isn’t always the fairy tale we come to expect it to be when we’re growing up. For me it was Disney movies, but even as far back as black and white movies there has always been the same storyline of boy meets girl, they fall in love, they live happily ever after — and usually with no explanation as to the amount of effort that “after” actually entails.
At the end of the day, relationships are all about work. Any type of relationship we can have with another human being requires constant care and effort but especially romantic relationships. To be honest, living in a time where phone calls barely exist anymore and where we can probably find out more about a person we’ve just started dating from their social media accounts than from their actual mouths is a bit depressing. I totally suffer from this way of thinking myself. Placing a phone call to anybody for any reason is such a stressful task for me because it’s been ages since I’ve had to do so. Calling up someone I like and potentially being rejected is high on the list of things I try to avoid. And that brings me directly to your question.
I never fully realized that my avoidance of human contact has been made easy by the fact that it’s totally acceptable. I can text or e-mail my boss to say that I won’t be coming in to work so why wouldn’t I think it’s normal to continue living behind a screen to have far less serious conversations? The longer this has gone on, the more I’ve become accustomed to thinking that it makes sense but it kind of doesn’t.
The thing is, since I don’t think it’s possible to go backwards, seeing as technology (and ways of meeting people through it) are always advancing, I think it would be up to us to maybe take a step back. I still do believe that you can meet tons of cool people in real life settings (school, work, social gatherings) but now that we’ve been afforded the luxury of making our judgements far before ever meeting someone face to face, some people do find it awkward and weird when a stranger approaches them without their prior approval. Of course some people are straight up weirdos and they prove the point our mothers made about talking to strangers but I also think it takes courage to strike up a conversation with someone you’d genuinely like to get to know. We can always let our friends and family introduce us to people because, after all, they know us best but sometimes they miss the mark too.
What I basically believe it all comes down to is that, with or without the ability to actually take away these somewhat impersonal ways of communicating with others, we could and probably should make a greater effort to make real human contact from time to time. I’m a believer in taking chances because you can never really know what you’re potentially missing out on if you don’t try.
So the next time you’re hanging out at your usual coffee spot, grocery store, music venue, bar, park, or anywhere you often see a certain familar face, just say hi. Being in the same places often already tells you what you have in common and I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to build from there. As you said, dating in your generation was much easier without all the smoke and mirrors… and screens. I think it would be interesting to see what would happen if everyone made a collective effort to go back to basics.
Thanks again for the question and for making me stop to think about new approaches to explore. I wish you all the best!
Have a question about love, dating, relationships, or sex? Contact Celina at firstname.lastname@example.org