On any given Friday night, I usually wait until about 5:59pm to decide what to do. I like to keep my options open until the very last minute in case I get a better offer. The idea of someone asking me on a date and agreeing on a time and place in advance has not only proved unrealistic in our culture, but rather unthinkable. Like most little girls, I grew up naïvely thinking that dating would involve candlelit dinners, presents, and mix tapes full of sappy love songs.
However, the older I get, the more skeptical I become that courtship can really exist in the digital world.
Courtship: A period during which a couple develops a romantic relationship, especially with a view to marriage. The word itself is so official and old-fashioned, and the notion is practically obsolete. The concept of courtship has been replaced by “having a thing,” “hooking up,” and “hanging out.”
My entire dating life I’ve been reliant on technology. From “researching” potential dates on Facebook, to curating a genuine yet flattering Instagram page, I am guilty of using social media as a crutch for my real life interactions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting I’d like to rewind to the time of gentlemen callers, but I do think it would be a delightful departure from our contemporary dating culture if we strove to be more present.
If you’re on a date, no matter if it’s your first or your fiftieth, your 327 Instagram followers can wait. I guarantee that if you pause whatever else you have going on –- including your electronic devices -– and strive to be truly present, your date will thank you. I realize that letting someone get to know you, the real you and not a filtered version of yourself, is absolutely terrifying. But I can also promise that it is worth it.
I long for intentional dates. In our “swipe right” culture, I don’t want to just be another girl some guy meets online to spend the weekend with. I still expect more. The ease of finding someone to “hook up with” online has perpetuated the idea of casual romance and has created a lot of ambiguity when it comes to actually having a healthy relationship. Everyone is afraid of commitment and everyone has baggage, but hiding it all behind an internet persona has lead us to develop a lot of bad habits.
In our ‘swipe right’ culture, I don’t want to just be another girl some guy meets online to spend the weekend with.
We have accepted so many unacceptable things when it comes to dating — phones during dinner, solely texting to communicate, and publishing our every move to social media. We’ve accepted that if a date doesn’t go well, it doesn’t really matter because there are countless other profiles to swipe through when you get home.
Despite the convenience of dating apps, it’s hard for our generation to make a real life connection and that is one reason that dating has become so casual. When Netflix doesn’t really mean Netflix and being Catfished is an actual possibility, it’s no wonder that admitting to having feelings for someone is scary! So, instead of taking control and steering the relationship, we take a backseat and let passivity see where the relationship ends up taking us.
Yet, dating is far too important not to care about. Relationships are built on vulnerability, trust, and real life interaction. In fact, the most successful couples I know are the ones who keep their relationships offline. I am not saying that technology is bad — plenty of my friends owe their entire relationships to technology. However, I am saying that some of the best dating principles involve unplugging, looking someone in the eye, and having an honest conversation.
Courtship is all about being intentional and making an effort. Sure, it looks different in the 21st century, but it’s the way of approaching a relationship with the desire to really know someone that remains important and is still attainable today. When we unplug, just for a minute or two, we have the ability to bring some old-fashioned love back into our lives. So while holding hands, love letters and flowers are nice, what I think most of us crave in the era of digital courtship is for someone to see your unfiltered self and like it all the same.
Do you feel like intentionality is lost in today’s dating world?
Image via Melody Munn