As a young 20-year-old woman I’m pretty much living in the thickest part of modernised hook-up culture. Dating has gone from men picking up their telephone and asking a woman to go out on a date with graceful dining and thoughtful gestures; to gradually being overtaken by mindless chatter over SMS/WhatsApp until the man, or woman decides to include the other person in whatever activity they’re already doing (e.g. clubbing, concerts, outing with friends etc.) and even then it’s just considered “hanging out”.
It is now almost mandatory (for survival purposes) to perfect the art of constructing the perfect sentence on messages to make you seem interested enough without being too overwhelming, and asking enough, but not too much to avoid looking eager; everything has now become calculated only to appear thoughtless. Even with all the different platforms we now have to communicate with each other, we are all forgetting to simply communicate. And that’s the world we live in today and I have to declare: I hate it with every inch of my being.
I’ve pretty much been single all my twenty short years of living, and that’s if I was to disregard the ‘relationship’ I was once in that was based on endless amounts of lies and cheating – which I would like to completely disregard and some people don’t understand why, but like I say you wouldn’t understand unless you’ve experienced a similar situation.
Since then I’ve found myself in several encounters with guys that have entailed a few back-and-forth messages, and sometimes this even led to face-to-face interactions. And on this journey, I’ve found myself in a perpetual state of uncertainty, known as the ‘grey area’.
In general, we’ve been socialised to believe relationships fall into two categories; just-casual or full out relationships. Now there’s a thin line between the two, and that is what’s called the ‘grey area’. Navigating through this grey area has become trickier than ever, and I’d like to mainly blame social media for that. As a generation we’re filled with contradictions. We put our whole lives/thoughts/actions on display through social media. It has completely changed the way we meet people and has introduced a layer of ambiguity that previous generations have never been exposed to. This has made our lives become so fast paced that it has desensitised us in terms of proper dating culture.
In a world full of endless opportunities, where nothing seems permanent, dating has now mainly become nothing but short lived. Majority of people in our generation are only after a ‘quick-fix’, something to temporarily fill in the emptiness that haunts them; why interact with someone face-to-face and tell them how you feel about them or ask them out to dinner when it seems like such a big risk, when you can just send an ambiguous text that merely indicates the possibility of meeting?
People are wired with so much pride and self-importance that whenever you do eventually find someone that you think is worth putting your pride to the side for, it only falls flat or descends into chaos. Meanings are lost through text messages, and you can’t confidently clarify the status between the two of you as you’ve only been ‘hanging out’ and it’ll seem completely out of line and inappropriate.
The New York Times had also previously questioned (in 2013) if traditional courtship had ended, and if ‘dating’ had been replaced with ‘hanging out’ as this is the problem most people in their twenties and thirties have to deal with. So because of this it’s essential to keep options open and be commitment-free, as you’ll never know if you’re going to get a better offer from someone else. And this is the reason why dating has now become “cheaper” and more casual, as we’re always on the lookout for different opportunities. So, a fancy dinner and a movie you say? You’ll be lucky to even get a drink.
Due to this greed that has taken over the majority of people, the bulk of us have been conditioned to put up this “savage façade” and supress any emotions to prevent from feelings getting hurt, even if it means denying the fact you may have chemistry with someone. However, what we tend to forget is that, it is the suppression of emotions that drive us all insane and this I-don’t-know-what-this-is phase situated within the grey area can’t and won’t continue longer than you welcome it’s stay, as long as you know exactly why you’re putting yourself out there in the dating world and then communicate that reason properly with your prospect.
And if we all just stop ourselves for a minute when you cross paths with a person that could potentially be your boyfriend/girlfriend and think to yourself “do I wish to add value to this person’s life?” and if so “how can I?” then it’ll decrease the chances of wasting so much time with a particular person. In general, the absence of this mentality generally steers you towards an arrogant and selfish approach towards dating that will inevitably ruin all chances of you forming any normal and functioning relationship. Although it’s hard to, as we live in such an egoistical society with people measuring your worth through the number of likes and follows you have, we need to stop viewing dating as a one-way thing, where only person should put in an X amount of effort as it should work both ways.
We’ve obviously advanced and evolved immensely as a generation, therefore it is inevitable that certain things such as social media will either facilitate or inhibit the growth of relationships, but it is our duty to navigate and adapt according to the conditions that we live in today. I guess inevitably, chemistry is the one and only thing that can hold two people together long enough to grow past all the confusion and uncertainty; or has our mind just reprogrammed to expect every interaction to not have real depth and as a consequence we continue to put little to no effort in forming proper relationships?
— I’d like to thank Khaz, Jumana Ismail , Kane and Rafael Carvalho for having such note worthy input into the making of this post. Your words were all spot on.