We’re in a unique moment in dating right now. Various factors and realities have rendered the standardized courtship script passé. The advent of online dating and social media, hookup culture, rapidly shifting gender politics, a digital culture of convenience and instant gratification, and expanding socially sanctioned possibilities for how to format the exclusivity of relationships have shaped a lovescape that we do not currently have many reliable maps to help us navigate.
The familiar sequence is no longer a given: boy meets girl, boy asks for girl’s number and calls her up to invite her to dinner and a movie, boy and girl sleep together after a socially acceptable number of dates, and so on. Much of this change is inarguably positive and opens up space to include an array of experiences, preferences, and identities that have not historically had a voice in the public conception of love. But disturbingly, despite being more “technically” connected than ever, rates of loneliness, anxiety, and depression have never been higher. As psychotherapist Esther Perrell says, the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives. We are clearly experiencing a disconnect on a large scale, and dating is only one part of it.
Given all this, it’s no wonder that an entire “dating industry” of matchmakers, coaches, consultants, app developers, and event planners is on the rise. As a dating coach, I’m a part of this emerging industry striving to provide an arsenal of resources and support to help people date in a meaningful way.
In my dating coaching practice, and in my prior position as a matchmaker for a national company, I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people all over the country about dating. These interviews have given me a tremendous amount of insight into the overarching patterns and also the idiosyncrasies of what it means to date in 2019.
I cannot say that online dating has fully replaced offline interaction. My daughter equally communicates via smartphone and in real life. But many people plunged in online relationships without any other alternative, Check This Out. And it is not normal. People need real interaction. I am not against dating sites, but the correspondence need to be followed by real dates.