Why can’t we, as grown-ups, treat dating as simple and fearless as when we were kids?
Instead, it’s something closer to this:
“Why the f*ck hasn’t he texted me?”
“Then text him first la.”
“No?! I’ll look like an eager beaver.”
What follows this is an entire day of constant WhatsApp/Tinder/Insta-checking just to see if the other party has had any activity. But when she finally receives the text, she intentionally takes hours to reply.
This is modern dating. Waiting, second-guessing, over-analysing and holding back.
But why do we tread so carefully? Why is it that we become more afraid of love as we grow up?
Being exposed to all impurities of the world has made us so wary of everything, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Sometimes, I wish I was a kid again. I wish I could go through life with fearless abandon. I wish I could feel the pure and uncomplicated love we experienced when we were young.
We keep looking… and looking.. and looking
We tend to look for more partners as we grow up because we think time is running out.
“OMFG I’m already 27 but I’m far from being married. Better start downloading dating apps and going on multiple dates to find a life partner.”
I first downloaded Tinder in 2014. As a freshly single girl in her early twenties at that time, I slowly found myself spiral into the world of casual dating.
We’re never satisfied
And thanks to such dating apps and websites, it’s now extremely easy to meet new people. Some apps even allow users to view the profiles of people who aren’t from their country.
While it’s great that technology gives us more options, it comes to a point where we have too many options.
With every person we date, we wonder if someone better will come along the way. It creates a “what if” mentality, which causes some people to avoid commitment subconsciously.
It’s understandable that we want the best for ourselves, but if we keep thinking we can do better, will we ever be truly happy?
We sure didn’t think this way when we were kids. The furthest we looked was probably the whole primary school.
These days, people look through the country’s entire population and it still isn’t enough for them.
The social media era
Even when we’re not physically with someone, it’s easy to know what a particular person is up to through social media. And because it’s so easy, we become obsessed with checking it 24/7.
“Problems” start to surface. “Problems” that never existed before the birth of social media.
“She blue ticked me!”
“He posted an Instagram story but hasn’t replied me? How dare he?????”
Now that we have the internet at our disposal, we understand how fast it is for someone to receive and read a message. And when that person doesn’t reply, we get anxious. We think, “Omg, is he/she sick of me already? Maybe I’m coming off too strong. Maybe I should back off a little.”
Knowing too much causes us to overthink. During our childhood days, we would call someone if we wanted to talk. There was no way of checking what that person was up to if he/she didn’t pick up the phone. We accepted it the way it was.
Besides allowing people to stalk, social media has also created a channel for people to express their feelings in a passive aggressive way. Instead of telling the other party how we feel, we write Da Vinci code-style Facebook statuses or do the whole black-background-with-tiny-font-turned-upside-down thing on Instagram story and expect the person to decrypt it.
When we were kids, we just straight up told our crush how we felt instead of doing this whole I-like-you-but-I-don’t-want-to-tell-you-yet-I-still-want-you-to-know thing.
When we were young, we gave each other gifts because we genuinely wanted to make the other person happy. Gone are the days where we received only a dollar as allowance, and eraser flags were a luxury to us.
Now that we are older and get way more income as working adults, we give each other gifts because of peer pressure and greater expectations to splurge on dates, and eventually, an expensive wedding and honeymoon.
As a result, some of us might fail to do long-term planning and set aside enough money for the future.
Money matters arising from social media (again)
With the rise of social media sharing comes the inevitable relationship one-uppance. And this one-uppance comes in the form of lavish dates and eventually, the actual wedding.
Now that there’s a need to share loving photos on Instagram and Facebook, couples are more conscious when it comes to how they are being portrayed online. Because of this, unspoken competition exists between couple friends.
Whose Valentine’s Day dinner looks more expensive than whose?
Whose bridal gown is prettier than whose?
I know a guy who actually takes offence when his girlfriend doesn’t post photos of the extravagant gifts he buys her.
“You know that bag cost me a few thousand dollars? If she doesn’t show it off on social media I think it’s time to break up with her already,” he once said half-jokingly to me.
Fear of rejection
In modern dating, it’s best to not let your feelings known too early into the dating phase. No one wants to appear too interested. It’s better off being the cool one who doesn’t give a shit, because the less you care, the more power you have.
As a result, we act nonchalant by not texting, and taking hours to reply.
This leads to a series of games where both parties try to beat each other in the “I don’t care” competition.
Look at those kids in the video above. They give pecks, they make moves, they aren’t afraid. Nowadays, we’re so caught up with the fear of rejection that we build a fort around ourselves to avoid getting hurt.
Fear of rejecting the other party
When we stop liking someone, we ghost the person instead of going through with an actual break up. We’d rather make an exit the selfish way than do a face-to-face confrontation because we’re afraid of dealing with the emotional consequences.
But by doing this, we forget that it hurts the ego of the person we ghost more than an actual break up. It’s as if the ghostee was so insignificant that he/she didn’t deserve a proper explanation.
Modern dating is complicated. We play mind games, ghost, hold ourselves back, and seek instant gratification through social media.
We may compare, worry about lavish expenditures, and we indulge in the present without thinking too much about the future. However, the desire to build a common future with a loved one should stay the same.
Here’s a tip for you to fear less and love more: income.com.sg/fearless
Top image via Getty Images.
This sponsored post in collaboration with Income makes Mothership.sg’s writers fear a little less.