Disconnected Dating: The Messy Truth

PSA: Dating doesn’t actually have to be so complicated. Relationships are hard work, but getting out there doesn’t have to be so tough. The problem is really quite a simple one, and it’s just become a really ugly mess because humanity’s gotten really focused on other things. Think with me, for a minute, and look back into the past couple of years. Remember life pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter, pre-texting, pre-instant everything, pre-distraction. How simple was it to focus on another person, to look around instead of down, and to converse with your voice rather than write to someone on the other side of a screen?

I suppose, to the naked eye, humanity is a quite social creature. We are constantly connected to this world of fast-moving information and personal interaction in everything we do. Day in and day out, mankind works to perfect our reputations, have an image of confidence, and be noticed by those who matter to us. But, when was the last time you did a quick check-up on the heart of the matter? We’re consumed. This obsession with social platforms has taken over every asset of our lives. More than any other time in history, our social lives are disconnected with the faces of our “friends,” and we live in a world of false realities. Now, a little note…I know you’ll probably be thinking, “It’s really not that bad.” But, have you ever considered how impersonal it all really is? Have you ever thought back to that pre-“social” life and marveled at how simple it all really was? If you have, keep on with me. We’re headed somewhere.

Asking someone out is the most challenging thing a person can do in this whole “relationship” equation, right? So much seems to be at stake. And, to explain where I’m coming from, I typically just don’t do the “asking out” as a woman. However, sometimes, I have to start the conversation, the friendship, the interest, somehow. Girls can ask guys to hang or chat, and *yay* for phones & computers making that conversation so possible. Guys can let girls know they’re interested by a simple message or two, here & there, like dropping bread crumbs. I get that a lady showing interest is not quite the same challenge as a guy asking a lady out, and I honestly don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side of that equation (I thank goodness). But, I also know that bread crumbing and random texting are not substantial, and we all want something real out of life. So, I do know this…Asking someone out? That takes a leap of courage. Doing it in person or directly? Even more courage. But, in reality, it’s only our perceptions that really make it seem so courageous. Our times have changed, and so have we.

I know, I know… Normal is a relative term, but I’m going to use it, regardless of that fact. It’s not normal to fear conversation, it’s not normal to avoid the people you want to be closest to, and it’s not normal to wait around for a date (like, that girl or guy you really like) to magically appear. Nope. I hate to clear the murky air, but our society has been toughing it out for quite some time with little advance to show for our efforts. Our social networking habits have reworked our methods, and quality time with sweet folks is less frequent in our digital age. But, there’s a simple fix. So, I’m going to be 100% honest (and totally the traditionalist woman I am, *no surprise there*) to get real with you gentlemen. AND, dear ladies, we’ve got to be real with ourselves, too.

Gents, be bold in letting women know you’re interested in them. Even when you’ve had tricky luck before, don’t lose heart. From a lady’s perspective, it’s attractive and manly when a guy with integrity and confidence shows that he cares by wanting to spend time with us – meaning, quality time that you have gone out of your way to reserve. From our perspective, it might be the only time a guy is intentionally telling us he wants to know us better, and ladies look for that. We pay attention to the little things, and it’s only natural. It’s only been in recent times that asking us out has been a task so terribly daunting, and we don’t see the need when we already enjoy your conversation or your company. If we already like talking to you or being around you, it’s probably because we already think we’d get on well. Women know in about ten seconds whether we’d date you or not, so there’s already a clear response. Do we smile, do our whole beings smile, when we talk to you?…There’s your answer. Do we linger at the end of a conversation in-person? Yeah, you make us nervous in a good way. So, what do you have to lose, aside from the opportunity when you see it? Women lose interest if you don’t show you care about getting to know us. Get on it, guys! Women want to be pursued, so go for it. You have it in you, I know it. So, go out there and show it. Wait forever to be with her in person, and in person, she won’t be waiting there forever.

Ladies, who came up with all these expectations about the ways guys should ask us out? As a rule of thumb, give him time to let you know what page he’s on, and get on with life in the process. He’ll either make you a part of his life or not, and that determination isn’t worth putting your life on hold for him in the process. Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there a little to encourage a guy’s interest, rather than waiting around for a fake Prince Charming. Sometimes, we’re impatient, and it does us no good. We also can’t expect life to happen without us putting in some effort. A great guy will eventually let you know where you are in his priorities because he cares enough to tell you; and sometimes, we can’t be one his priorities in life. Hang in there, because that right guy will be along in time; and don’t lose your integrity or zeal for life waiting on him. Life is only promised for the moment, so give it your all. That last thing you should ever do is chase down a life you wanted to have, or a guy that you liked, as the good life passes you by. It’s ultimately up to him to take the initiative towards a relationship (or, that’s just how I roll!). So, let the chips fall where they may, and love the life you have right now. It’ll only get better from here.

Yes, I know, I’m back on the “social networking destroys everything” binge, but it’s really important. Actually, it’s the most important point to make in this entire message. I think the whole use of it in relationships, being the most impersonal form of communication I’ve found, is disheartening. Here’s some need-to-know information for you guys and gals who might be tempted… Social Networking and messaging is a tool to connect with people that you might not connect with otherwise, but using a tool for an unintended purpose only leads to poor workmanship. So, I’ll just use Facebook as an example. If you want to know someone, by all means, Facebook can be a great tool to let them know you’re interested in talking more. It can be the means of asking for a phone number or just chatting to get to know someone a bit more, but it’s meant to be a tool to lead to other forms of communication. So, harness it’s ability to connect, but don’t use it to build a relationship. It’s impersonal and easy to use, so it’s convenient if you want to ask someone out with a no-strings-attached approach. However, asking someone out or getting to know someone has never been, and never should be, hands-off or indirect. Go ahead and use Facebook to start a conversation, but be prepared to take it elsewhere. People get tired or feel unimportant when they’re on the back-burner of a social networking/texting conversation, so for the purposes of actually winning someone’s heart: shoot for the goal, and be personal. I bet you’ll surprise yourself and the other person!

Dating has been made elusive, and expressing our interests has never been more confusing. Thanks to social networking, we’ve made approaching a date impossibly complicated. Looking at a person in the eyes and letting them know that you care has been made into a scary thing. But, it’s really not that horrific. If we fear rejection, using social networking doesn’t remove the possibility of rejection – it just makes it less overwhelming and personal in the case that it does happen. However, we might just be trading having the heart of another for the protection of our own. Listen, love is vulnerable. In asking someone out, you do put your heart on the line and risk rejection, but keep trying & your chances of getting a date improve as your relationship with that person gets more personal, special, familiar, trusted, and close. It’s not scary to talk in person, and it’s actually the way people have been getting to know each other for all of human history. So take it from your grandparents, great-grandparents, and all the rest of mankind…Love is a challenge. Building a relationship is hard work, but don’t make it harder than it needs to be. An old quote comes to mind, “Shoot for the moon. And even if you miss, you will land among the stars.” Set your goals high, connect like it’s a priority, and let the other person know they really matter to you. Noticing the little things really is what matters – so look up, see those beautiful eyes, hear that wonderful voice, and speak the words from your heart.