If you’re single today and looking for love, you’re probably all-too familiar with the fact that modern dating is like nothing generations before you have ever experienced. Gone is the era when most singles met their partners the good ol’ fashioned way: face to face. In its place is the Digital Wilderness, a veritable jungle of social media, dating and hook-up apps where men and women can connect with others in the same bar, the same neighborhood, across the country or across the globe. The multitude of choices presented to daters is unprecedented, and concern about the quality of flesh-and-bone interactions being jeopardized by the internet runs rampant; yet research and popular opinion surmising that “more” does not necessarily translate to “better” continues to emerge with every click, poke and snap. Herein lies the the Modern Dater’s predicament: the more we look, the less we find. And when we do “find” and get our shot at that elusive face-to-face encounter, we may continue searching through the digital wild, wondering if there is still something “better” and withholding the chance for magic to happen with what we’ve already found.
Let me be clear I’m not advocating for you to just accept whatever interest first comes along, close down the expedition and accept what the wilderness put in your path. The last thing I want is for you to continue dating someone you don’t really like, aren’t attracted to, who doesn’t share your values, makes you feel small, fill in the blank. What I am advocating for is that you get really clear with yourself about what you want in the dating experience, both on and off the screen:
Who do you want to be as an individual human being?
How do you want to be in relationship to another?
Why do these things matter to you?
My hope is that the answers to these questions become part of a treasure map to help guide you through the brave, new wilderness of modern relationships. The choices available to you are still plentiful, but shifting the focus inward and being honest with yourself about yourSELF helps to root the process of choosing in what you really care about and thwarts the overwhelm that comes with too many options. If you notice that any of your answers to the above questions are threatened by someone (including yourself!), perhaps it’s time to take up the map and move along. But if you discover yourself honoring what matters to you even in the face of another, stop and rest awhile.
The wilderness isn’t going anywhere.