NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Why Was Dating So Much Easier in the Past?

One of the biggest complaints today among people who are dating is that, compared to dating in the past, the dating world today has become so difficult and often discouraging (see my article: Dating vs Being in a Relationship: Take Time to Get to Know Each Other).  I'll be exploring why dating was so much easier in the past in this article.

Why Was Dating So Much Easier in the Past?

Why Was Dating So Much Easier in the Past?
There are many reasons why dating was easier and a more satisfying experience in the past:
  • Meeting in Person vs on Dating Apps: Unless you're in your 20s or younger, you probably remember a time before dating apps when dating was a lot simpler than it is today.  Part of the reason for that is that you would meet people in person. You would go out to a social event, a friend's party, a club, a dance, a discussion group or some other social event, and you would meet people in person.  The other alternative is that a friend might fix you up on a blind date.  Today dating apps are convenient, but there are thousands of choices on these apps which can lead to an endless and obsessive feeling of there being "someone better" out there.  This attitude often leads to bypassing many good potential choices. Instead of taking the time to get to know someone better, people can get stuck in an endless cycle of first dates that go nowhere because they're focused on that next elusive person who might be "someone better."
  • Getting a Vibe About Someone in Person: When you met someone in person, aside from the initial physical attraction, you would get a "vibe" about that person.  If there was a spark of an attraction between you, you would probably exchange phone numbers and go out on a date later that week.  Today, even when dating apps have detailed profiles, most people are making choices based solely on looks instead of an overall first impression you get from meeting someone in person.
  • Making an Effort With Someone You Liked: In the past, there was a recognition that you would have to make an effort to win someone over.  Both people would try to put their best foot forward in a romantic way. Today when someone wants to ask someone out on a date, s/he usually doesn't even call--they text.  That takes minimal effort and it's devoid of romance.
  • Taking the Time to Get to Know Someone You Liked: More likely than not, in the past you weren't dating several people at the same time, especially if you hit it off with someone special, because you and the person you like wanted to see if something more would develop between you.  You would know that dating multiple people at once wouldn't allow for a potential romance to develop. So, when you were focusing on that special person you liked, you would try to connect with them on a deeper level. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen nearly as often today in the fast paced world of online dating.
  • Dating With a Purpose: Developing a Relationship: As compared to the more superficial world of hooking up, dating had a purpose in the past, and the purpose was to try to figure out if you wanted to be in a relationship with the person you were dating. This isn't to say that there aren't people today who want to be in a relationship because there definitely are. This is what leads to so much frustration and dissatisfaction. People who want to be in a relationship are frustrated and discouraged by the superficiality of the dating app world.  Also, overall, dating is complicated today because people have many different choices about the type of relationship they want to be in. Rather than just dating with the idea of entering into a potential "forever relationship," there's the possibility of hooking up or some other form of casual relationship (see my articles: The Pros and Cons of Friends With Benefits (FWB).
  • Knowing What You Want: Many choices can lead to confusion about what you want.  When dating someone special meant that the two of you were trying to see if you were compatible enough to enter into a relationship, it was generally understood what was wanted and expected. But today so many people seem confused about what they want. Whereas in the past a question like, "Do you want to be in a relationship?" was a relatively simple question, today this same question elicits confusion from people.
  • Understanding Where You Stand With the Person You're Dating: In the past, it was more likely that you would know where you stood with the person you were dating.  There was clearer communication and most people were better at talking about their feelings as compared to today. Since people had more experience meeting in person, talking on the phone, having more in depth conversations and knowing what was expected of them, they communicated better with each other. Today what often passes for a "conversation" is a few lines of text messaging, which is much more impersonal than talking on the phone and certainly more impersonal than talking in person. More often this superficial communication can lead to confusion and mixed messages (see my article: The Connection Between Ambivalence and Mixed Messages).
  • Developing Better Social Skills From Dating: In the past, people developed better social skills and knew how to interact better as a result of their dating experiences. Dating helped to improve overall social skills because people were interacting more in person, making more of an effort, approaching dating with a purpose, and taking the time to get to know each other. As a result, they learned valuable social and interpersonal skills through dating--even if dating didn't result in a long term relationship. A first date was more about having a conversation and making a good first impression than it was about showing up with a checklist of questions for your date or ticking off boxes.
  • Breaking Up Was Cleaner: Overall, before the age of online dating and social media, when you broke up with someone, it was generally a clearer and cleaner process. Usually, you would have a discussion in person and, ideally, have closure.  But today people are breaking up with each other via text messages.  This can leave the person who is being broken up with feeling confused, angry and abandoned.  Also, in the past, you might occasionally run into the person you were dating, but you wouldn't have to be concerned about seeing what was going on in their life on social media. Also, you wouldn't have to be concerned about all the posts and pictures of the two of you that would live on forever online.
Since dating is a topic that interests many people, I'll focus on this topic in future articles.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR, AEDP, EFT and Somatic Experiencing therapist (see my article: The Therapeutic Benefits of Integrative Therapy).

I work with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.