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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wisconsin chapter.

In this digital world, we are bombarded with what to do and what not to do in terms of our relationships, and we often forget that a relationship is between two people.

Dating culture has drastically changed from what it once was. We empower people to date whomever they want, however they want, and we rely on dating apps to find our next flame. We are less focused on marriage and more focused on pleasure. Despite this change, there are still so many “rules” that as a society we believe we must adhere to. We are told by “relationship experts” that we should do this and we shouldn’t do that, but it leaves us overthinking rather than trusting our own feelings. 

Gen Z has grown up talking to people behind a screen. Arguably, most relationships form because of exchanges through text message or Snapchat rather than meeting someone in person. While we push the fact that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to people on social media because “it isn’t real,” we find it completely normal to overthink a text message. In reality, we have no idea what’s going on on the other side of the screen. We sometimes have no issues pouring out our heart and soul into a text only to be too afraid to say the exact same thing to someone’s face. 

A man would most likely never come up to me in a bar and ask me to have sex just because we looked at each other—he would come off as creepy and perverted. But this same man might have no problem starting a conversation on a dating app with a vulgar sentence. As a woman on the other side of the screen, I may laugh at it, but I rarely call him a creep.

We tell people, particularly women, to make the first move and go after what we want, but we also push the fact that “if he wanted to, he would.” Then we are left overthinking: should I send that bold text or just wait in agony so we don’t come off as “crazy”? Why should communication ultimately fall on the guy? Again, we don’t know what’s happening on the other side of the screen, just like they don’t know what you’re thinking. If they get spooked by a “double text,” they won’t appreciate you for the woman you are. Not to mention, the other person might be in the exact same boat of wanting to send a text but not following through.

21st-century feminists would say, “Take control of your body and have sex on the first date,” and yet we are also met with, “If you want a long term relationship with this person, sex on the first date will ruin that.” Essentially we are being told yes but…don’t come off so strong. 

We are given a flowchart, like the ones you see in teen magazines. If you do this, then this will happen because men think like this. While we can confidently say the date went well or it wasn’t good, it’s the aftermath that drives us insane. We hear people tell us, “If he touched you on the first date then he doesn’t actually like you,” and all the good parts of the date seem to disappear from our minds. We don’t end up trusting the person, but rather someone on the internet who claims to know what’s best. 

We live in a culture where dating can be hard. We feel as if dating apps are the main way to meet people and that in-person meetings are rare. We are told by “relationship experts” what to do and what not to do rather than trusting our gut. Ultimately, a relationship is between two people, so it’s up to the two people to communicate their thoughts and feelings. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but once you decide you want to form a deeper relationship through communication, you will truly feel seen and heard. 

Maria is currently at UW-Madison Studying Journalism, Strategic Communication, Spanish, and Larin American, Caribbean and Iberian studies with a minor in Sports Communication. She is originally from Brazil, so along with English and Spanish, she is fluent in Portuguese. She has a passion for social media, fitness, yoga, fashion, and travel. For Maria, Her-Campus has been a great outlet to publish articles that she loves and hopes others can enjoy!