There are a few things that cause me to completely unravel as a human being.
Spiders and boys.
I would like to go on record and say boys are so much scarier than spiders.
Because boys are confusing and unpredictable as hell. At least with a spider I know what I’m getting myself into. It runs away while I flail around in desperate attempts to scream it into submission. However, when I encounter a boy, particularly a boy I would like to be in a relationship with all bets are off and I completely fall apart. Or I just sabotage all my relationships. Or I shut down and shut people out.
Everyone hop in line to date the crazy girl.
Dating is terrifying. Whether we’ve been doing it for three years or three months it’s one of the most complicated relationships we could possibly navigate. Unlike marriage we can’t fully commit and allow ourselves to be fully known. Unlike singleness we lack autonomy and independence. We’re moving towards a future together and yet that future isn’t guaranteed.
So when did dating get so complicated?
The generation before us doesn’t seem to remember the dating process filled with so much exasperation and frustration. Sure, maybe it’s because they’re old and they’ve forgotten what it’s like. They speak of a simpler time when intentions were clear and communication was simple though finding a payphone to call on was not. Overall, things seemed better back then.
They sigh in relief and offer encouraging words like, “I’m so glad I’m not your age.” It’s hard out there in the dating world! There are ambiguous text messages and flirty Snapchats to decipher. You’ll get eaten up and spit out and have your heart broken a million ways to Sunday because there are a million ways to connect and even more ways to feel helplessly alone.
It’s easy to blame social media. We love to point the finger at the lack of “good guys” or “nice girls” out there. We’re quick to offer up excuses about the limited time, money, and resources available to us. We can hide behind our careers, our political views, and our religious institutions. We can blame male passivity and female autonomy if it helps us sleep better at night.
Dating isn’t more complicated because of social media. In fact, dating isn’t more complicated because of any of those things. Really all of those reasons are mere symptoms of deeper problem.
Dating is more complicated because we’re afraid.
Our fear keeps us from being curious. Our lack of curiosity keeps us from being vulnerable. Vulnerability and true intimacy are the bedrock of healthy romantic relationships. As long as we continue live in a fear-based culture leading fear-based lives our dating endeavors will continue to suffer.
“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty. It wasn’t always a choice; we were born curious. But over time, we learn that curiosity, like vulnerability, can lead to hurt. As a result, we turn to self-protecting- choosing certainty over curiosity, armor over vulnerability, and knowing over learning. But shutting down comes with a price- a price we rarely consider when we’re focused on finding our way out of pain.” –Dr. Brene Brown
Dating is the ultimate uncertainty because it requires curiosity and vulnerability.
Which is really freaking hard to do. Rather than enter into the curiosity of getting to know another person we are quick to arm ourselves with knowledge, certainty, and a 10 point checklist to keep ourselves as safe as possible. We scour the Internet for articles about how we will know if he’s “the one” or how to sweep her off her feet.
We desperately want to know if he’s just not that into us so we don’t have to go on 50 first dates.
Our fear is the root cause of our dating woes.
Which just manifests itself beautifully with our technology. Because we’re afraid we hide behind screens and collect data to make the safest and easiest decision possible. Text messages, Tinder, Facebook, etc. are appealing because they aid in our quest for knowledge.
From the safety of my living room I can engage in the lowest form of curiosity. I can Google the shit out of you. I can make assumptions and decisions without risking rejection or an awkward encounter. Even if we are in a dating relationship I engage my head through witty text messages without ever engaging my heart. I can know a lot about knowing a lot about whoever I’m dating.
The Internet makes us feel brave.
We can have all the answers to everything but another person, which is why dating will continue to be scary. Because there’s not a formula when it comes to people. No article, no TV show, no book will give us everything we need to escape the risk of pain that comes with getting to genuinely know another person. To risk is to be human.
We love talking about talking about things. We love knowing about knowing about things. It’s so much safer that way because we don’t have to have any skin in the game. Dating is scary because we’re signing up for uncertainty. Dating and relationships in general scare us because they require our full hearts rather than head knowledge or halfhearted attempts at intimacy.
Honestly, dating scares us because we’ve lost the art of curiosity.
What would it look like to become curious again? I mean to really be risky and dare to get to know someone? Not for who they are in a text message, a Snapchat, or in their dating profile but to actually get to know them? What would it look like to get some skin in the game and discover another person’s hopes, dreams, desires, insecurities, doubts, and fears?
What would it look like to go from knowing about someone to actually knowing them?
I believe our curiosity is the key to the intimacy we long for.
Does dating scare you? Did it scare you? Who are you going to be curious with? I would love to know! Comment below, shoot me a text, or send me an email.