Why is Dating in the 21st Century Really Hard?

In some ways, our culture values quantity over quality. This phenomenon has tainted the 21st Century dating pool. Though I almost expected the quantity over quality mentality from college men trying to have “the best four years of their lives,” it caught me off guard when it came to dating older men (like post graduate men in their 20s and 30s who live in their own apartment and wake up at 6AM for work every morning). 

In college, time and time again, I watched events transpire that looked like genuine interest and possibly the potential of a relationship turn sour and spoil like milk. More often than not, boys didn’t actually want to get to know me, they wanted to get laid. 

I thought it was my fault boys didn’t take me seriously. Maybe my shirts were a little too low cut. Maybe bars are not environments conducive to meeting my next boyfriend. Any area I felt that I could shoulder the blame for my inability to find a boyfriend, I did. So, I cleaned up my Instagram, purged my closet of the immodest clothes that haunted my freshman and sophomore years of college, and got off of the dating apps. Yet, nothing changed, I still had boys hitting me up at 2AM to come over, yet never received messages during daylight hours to plan a date. 

Some signs were more obvious than others. Over time, I became less naïve and more readily able to leave situations where boys wanted to waste my time, which is hard to do as a young woman today. Male attention is a powerful currency. But attention does not always equal positive intentions. 

After turning 21, I began to expand my dating pool beyond college boys, and painstakingly found that dating men in the real world is not that dissimilar from trying to date boys in college. The line of people looking for one night stands or casual sex is abundant, but the line of people looking for relationships is almost nonexistent. 

Even after following all the rules I set in place to weed out people standing in the former line such as “don’t agree to Netflix and Chill, make them take you on a real date," I still find myself on dates where it is painfully obvious that these men are only looking for one thing (hint: it’s not a relationship). 

I’m really at a loss for what to do here. If you find yourself in this situation I don’t think it is necessarily your fault. We have just evolved into a culture where we find new people to sleep with the same way we order food to our doorsteps. We are overloaded with choice. Why sleep with one girl when you can sleep with them all (or at least keep your options open instead of committing to one person)? Men are no longer in a rush to get married. It’s not just about having “the best four years of your life” in college, but also “the best decade of your life” in your 20s. The women looking for real connections are simply casualties of this mentality. 

We are women, not blow up dolls. We are not of the transactional nature. We are not for sale or for purchase or for men to use. Our intimacy cannot be bought with numbers on a credit card, one expensive dinner, a handful of compliments, a pearl necklace, or a free shot in a college bar – I think most of us want more than this. We are all worth more than this.    

It really sucks that we have to wade through heaps and heaps of trash to find someone who is interested in us with our clothes on. This phenomenon is felt far and wide from anonymous platforms to comedians to podcast hosts to bloggers. It starts to feel like something is wrong with you, but I don’t think you can take people’s failure to value you personally. 

The feeling we have as women to mean something to someone, to be loved and valued isn’t wrong. No matter how hard you try to ignore this inherent feeling, you will eventually feel it. Lowering our standards because our culture isn’t meeting our expectations is not the solution. Stop trying to turn your booty call into your boyfriend. Don’t forget the beauty of trying and putting yourself out there. Be patient. Let people mean something to you. Care more. When has rushing into sex that you were unsure about ever really kept anyone? 

Maybe the Christians were onto something with the whole abstinence until marriage thing. You don’t have to wait until marriage, but maybe you should wait until someone’s intentions are clear. You shouldn’t do anything that would make you feel used or like you lost a piece of yourself if your situation simply turns into a memory instead of a relationship. I think that can only be achieved when you know someone truly cares about you.