A few weeks ago, I went to see The Dating Project movie. After watching the documentary, I realized that it only confirmed my thoughts and feelings on how difficult twenty-first century dating truly is.
Take it from a twenty-something who’s trying to navigate today’s dating scene–or lack thereof, for that matter. It’s no one’s fault per se…I believe it’s the culture that we, as twenty and thirty-somethings, have grown up in. We’ve almost always had technology at our fingertips and it’s rapidly taking over the dating scene–making things exponentially more difficult.
As a generation, we hide behind our phones and social media. I’ll be honest: I think it's because it’s so much easier to talk to someone via text, since we can choose our words wisely and portray ourselves the way we want to be perceived. Everyone wants to feel accepted. So, because of this reality, it’s becoming harder and harder to simply be ourselves due to society pushing a “perception façade” versus authenticity.
Many of us desperately want a change because this ‘dating epidemic’ can cause us to feel incredibly lost, out of control, and helpless.
Well, let me drop a little nugget of wisdom. There is something we can do about it. I’m a firm believer that leading by example has an incredible amount of untapped power. That being said, the first step in changing the course of the culture is by changing ourselves and our own habits or tendencies first.
So, I propose three ways to help kick-start a change in today’s millennial dating scene.
1. Put the phones away.In college, while we were eating a meal, one of my best friends would always take everyone’s phones and wouldn’t give them back until we left the cafeteria. This drove me absolutely crazy. However, now I have an immense appreciation for this and I value putting phones away. If I’m with someone, nothing in the world means more to me than if their phone isn’t a third guest at our table.
When it comes to dating: particularly if you’re on a date, keep those phones stored away and on "do not disturb" or even turned off! That snapchat or group text can wait a couple hours.
With phones out of the picture, you’re able to spend true quality time getting to know one another without the distraction of constant phone notifications.
2. Practice the art of conversation.
This tip ties in with the first one. If your phones are out of sight, then you are truly able to talk with someone and get to know them. I almost feel as if the art of conversation has been lost in the last several years. After all, it's all too common to see a group of young (or even not so young) people sitting together—with each individual in their own little world.
When it comes to dating: ask questions about the other person, and then take a moment to breathe and listen to their response. Be mindful that when you're asking questions, it isn't an interrogation. Once the other person has finished their answer, try asking another question about their response. This might be uncomfortable at first, but before long, you'll be a pro at conversing—and you might even enjoy it.
3. Be yourself!This tip is hard, because we all want to be liked and not be perceived as "uncool." You're not alone in feeling this way. I can guarantee that almost everyone struggles with this, including myself. With every passing day, it gets more difficult to put ourselves out there because there’s a certain sense of pressure from society to "do and be this or that" as well as a constant feeling of inadequacy when we fail to meet those expectations.
When it comes to dating: it's crucial to let your true self shine. When you're going on dates and getting to know someone, you want the other person to see who you really are.
Think of it this way: be the confident little girl or little boy you once were who would walk up to just about anybody and ask if they wanted to be your friend. Obviously, you aren't going to share your whole life story on the first date (that's reserved for much, much farther down the road) but let your date see little bits and pieces of who you really are.
Bridging the gapThis change won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of work, practice, and persistence on our–the millennials’–part. We’ll fail and make mistakes but the important thing to remember is that we learn from those mistakes. If plan ‘A’ didn’t work, there’s still 'B,' and twenty-four other letters in the alphabet to change courses and try again. I'd much rather see us practicing these three tips imperfectly than not trying at all.
And above all else, while navigating the dating scene, pray. And pray hard. Pray to be transformed into the person that God created you to be. Trust that He has you right where He wants you–no matter what season of life you may find yourself–and be content and happy wherever you may be. Trusting in God's plan is incredibly hard but He has a plan for all of us that is unimaginably perfect.
Also, pray for the person that He is saving for you; the person who will ultimately help lead you to Heaven. Pray that he/she is becoming the person that God created him or her to be. Lastly, I'll leave you with one of my favorite dating tips:
I would love to hear about some of your dating experiences—good or bad. Please share with us in the comments below!