Welcome to the age of the pseudo-relationship. Perhaps you’ve been connected through a friend of a friend with someone who genuinely seems up your alley. On some sort of level you’ve concluded there’s a connection and established there’s a sense of mutual interest. With this welcome’s the complexities of everything that comprises dating in the digital age. Modern dating has come to be propped up on a set of rules, expectations and mutual distancing to assert your dominance of emotional detachment. Though a seemingly counterproductive game of determining who is the alpha of being less invested in the other, we endorse these digital mind games by taking intel on time stamps, obsessively constructing responses and engaging in superficial exchanges. Some rarely going beyond small talk, others merely in hopes of laying the groundwork for a night ahead.
The narrative of feeling the need to project the image of being relaxed, indifferent and oblivious to the texts, receipts and snaps plays into how we all work to perpetuate this age of shallow dating. In striving to appear the lesser attached of the duo, in a context that historically has been reliant on emotional investment in order to succeed, it’s interesting how adamantly we uphold these tendencies that quite often serve to fail us. In turn, the majority of the time when a friend asks how things are going with someone new, we struggle to answer properly. There exists this resistance to addressing the reality in these situations. A reluctance to the vulnerability of figuring out if you’re on the same page as the other person. We wouldn’t dare suggest our friend double texts, responds too quickly or over punctuates. A process familiar to many of editing through the specifics of a text more attentively than we would with some school assignments.
A message crafted down to its ideal form, that could go on to, for an hour or day, despite having likely been seen by its recipient seconds upon it having been sent. We’ve been handed this degree of power, foreign to previous generations and how they were expected to navigate their own love lives. It’s only when explaining these understood rules to dating to those outside of our generational bubble, that it’s highlighted how childlike the nature of these rules appears to be. Expressing the excitement experienced when a story receives a response or a DM flashes on your screen, it all comes to sound trivial and inconsequential to advancing anything at all. As you come to be familiarized with how dating and hookup culture merge, the fantasy of coming to University and finding “the one” grows increasingly difficult. Flirting is laden with subtext and confusion and leaves many to question, at what point is the jig up?