Dating in the digital age is no walk in the park.
It requires that you keep your feelings at bay and your eyes wide open instead of wide shut and zeroed in too closely on the illusion of potential. Dating in the digital age means sliding into DMs instead of chance meetings on the train after work commutes, or blind set-ups from mutual friends. You rarely get the opportunity to invest before you swipe left for something shinier and more new. So many options, so little substance.
It also means time spent constantly wishing we still lived in times where someone would ask you out on a date on Friday and not wait until Saturday to say something came up. Simple things.
But, since longing for the simplicity that my grandparents once knew in their courtship is pointless, I decided that if the dating game wouldn't change, I'd just have to change. In order to better equip myself to navigate the sometimes bleak waters of dating in the digital age, I connected with a dating and relationships coach to gain some insight in the confusion of it all. Here's what I picked up:
Watch and Learn
Dating and relationship coach, and author of The Don't Before I Do, Emily Duboise says, "In the early stages, what you see is what you get. In this era, doing a soft stalk of each other's social media is part of the early stages of courtship. It's just expected, and can be quite useful in the early weeding out process. You can tell a lot from someone's page. It's a display of one's own personal brand whether we know it or not."
Social media in many ways has been both a dating blessing and a curse. While we're in this age of hyperconnectivity, it should be easy to find our Prince Charming, but no. On the one end, I'm always wondering which of the dudes sliding in my DMs like Grand Rapids have girlfriends they've been keeping below sea level. And on the other end of the spectrum, I'm on emotional standby at all times to support friends that finally come to realization that they've been kissing toads in search of their prince charming.
No one wants to find out that after months of "dating" or clinging to the potential of someone that in all actuality, you're the side chick. Or that he's just not that into you. I don't know which is worse honestly.
Communication Is Key
Whether we take heed or not, the red flags are always there. "If he's liking, sharing, expressing interest in posts that degrade or bash women (i.e. half-naked Instagram models or singing the tune 'Women only want men for ____,' he's probably not for you sis," Emily said. "If he is adamant about keeping his page private from YOU that's a red flag. A man should have nothing to hide. And if the only form of communication is through DM, and later he's deleting messages later those are red flags."
It's Not Bittersweet If You're Just Bitter
Dating can easily have you go from crushing to feeling crushed. Stalking him on social media is all fun and dating games until he posts a picture with another girl and now you're wondering where you stand. To avoid coming off bitter and broken, here are some ground rules one should set for themselves while dating in this social climate.
"I tell single women all the time: Every meme, quote, post should not scream, 'I'm single,' 'This why I ain't got no man,' 'Men ain't sh*t,' etc. Your profile should be fun, light, and exemplify that you are beautiful, you are enjoying life, and simply interesting. Men should be so intrigued by your page that they'll want to learn more, and won't think twice about hitting you up, especially whether or not you have a man."
Self-Preservation Is Everything
As an exercise, I volunteered myself for a kind of social experiment. I bought roses for myself and, a few days later, I grabbed them while dashing out the door. I spent the day giving those dozen roses to a dozen beautiful women I encountered. One to the woman working in the parking garage at my office building, another to hostess at the restaurant where I had lunch, so on and so forth.
It's too easy to forget about loving yourself when we've been made to believe we need a partner to feel whole. You should be so full of love that your cup runneth over.
We don't have to search outside of ourselves for the love we so desperately seek when we have the capacity to give love unconditionally. When it comes to social media, and looking to a potential bae's page for reference, look at the women he does post on his page, pay attention to his mannerisms and if how he displays himself to the world is aligned with your own self-expression. Is he worthy of your time and energy? Or would he leave you feeling half-full and emotionally exhausted?
"Dating [in the digital age] is all about seeing if you like the person and want to spend more time with them. It's not about changing them, and molding them into someone of your liking. YOU decide, based on the information you are gathering from his page, whether or not it's going to work for you. It's ok to say 'no' and move on. Your conversation would be: 'I'm looking for something different,' not 'Why are you posted up with all these different women?'" Emily said.
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