If you are over 50 years old, you know dating is significantly different than it was it was before 1995. Back then, there was no confusion about what a date meant to either person. A “date” could be defined as you and the person going out/meeting to spend time with each other in a romantic or special friendly way. Notice was necessary for a date–at least two or three days notification was required with the day, time, and place. Typically, the primary mode of communication was in person or voice to voice via phone conversation to plan this special event.
Dating was considered the preliminary stages of a relationship to discern future interactions. You were actively getting out and meeting people, generally focused on spending time with them. “Dating someone” meant you’re spending a significant amount of time with someone with purpose and on a regular basis.
Technology such as texting, social media direct messaging, dating websites, and dating apps have changed the dating scene and meaning dramatically.
Think about it! The first online dating service (www.Match.com) was created in 1995. By 2002, it had over 2 million subscribers. According to Forbes, as of 2013, there were over 2,500 dating services in the US alone. This diminishes the motivation to get out and meet people in person. Talking over the phone or meeting face to face in a public place to have a conversation appears less attractive when you have such accessibilities like looking at a profile picture and communicating via chat room, phone app, text messaging, and social media.
Dating or planning a date has become more of a process than an event. This process can last an unspecified amount of time of which a person can spend excessive engagement in “weeding” out people who they feel aren’t marriage potential or even worth spending face to face time with. In this new age of telecommunication, here are some signs that technology may be affecting your dating life:
1. You identify that your persistent feelings of loneliness and undesirable personality is based on how many people view your profile and contact you for more interest.
2. You only plan a date when the person demonstrates the ability to answer every one of your texts, DM’s, and emails within a specific amount of time only you know about.
3. Your inbox is full of unwanted attention because you post every moment of your life on social media from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep.
4. Your lack of desire to engage in social interactions with friends, family, and community-based celebrations has been replaced with “shopping” on dating apps for the perfect mate. Eliminating the dating stage altogether.
5. You spend more time monitoring/managing your electronic device (s) for communication with persons you have yet to meet, don’t plan to meet, or answering messages from multiple people simultaneously instead of staying employed, going to class, enjoying the company of family and friends, or taking care of your mental and physical health.
Dating can be an exciting and fulfilling part of life. Balance is key. You can avoid pitfalls from allowing technology to take over your dating life by keeping perspective of the meaning of a date and dating. You are not considered dating someone you never meet in person but use technology to spend hours of the day communicating. A date is a plan that transcends into an event. It can be one time or ongoing (dating).
Remember, humans, need authentic communication that can’t be assessed primarily in front of a computer or on a phone screen. Improve your self-awareness and accountability by practicing healthy ways to meet and spend time with people. Don’t cheat yourself when it comes to your self-worth and happiness. Good interpersonal skills can be enhanced and demonstrated with good conversation in-person while enjoying the company of other people.