How to Have a Healthy Experience in Modern Dating

“The problem with our world today is that we’ve taken a consumer mentality and put it into our relationships with human beings, and we treat human beings like commodities.” 

-Ben Stuart

By: Lauren Michelle
Editor: Rachele Blick 
Cover and Content Artwork: Sarah Johnson, @sarahxdesign

Modern Dating: What can you do for Me?

dating 2

According to a Harvard longitudinal study over a 80 year period, the highest correlation to a long and happy life is meaningful connections. If this is true, then why do we pursue and maintain our most important relationships through so many meaningless avenues? From hookups to scrolling through several dating apps at once, the process of dating is becoming more of a casual and unproductive experience.  

No one knows what dating looks like anymore. Both men and women seem to set unclear expectations and intentions. There’s an increase in the avoidance of commitment, devaluation of relationships, constant need for validation, and demand for instant gratification. We live in a culture that has two-day shipping, constant bings and buzzes from our phones, and an addiction to novelty things that eventually lose our attention. Society as a whole is always on the move. We have difficulty in mindfulness and maintaining the attention needed to get to know someone without the distraction of our devices and daily to-do lists. We keep our options open, and we are terrified to actually “unfilter” how we feel at risk of being truly known and rejected.  

Online dating coach Eric Resnick said, “Online dating has become more of a video game than a viable way to make a real connection.” Instead of living our lives through the internet and using it to maintain dating relationships, let’s use it as a tool and do the hard work of human connection offline. 

The moment we view dating as a shopping experience or a video game is the moment we lose the great opportunity to discover intimate and real human connection. 

 

3 Ways to Make Dating Better 

1. Check your heart, intentions, and boundaries before pursuing dating

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Ben Stuart says it best: “We must get our relationship with God right before we can get our relationship with a guy or girl right.” I believe that God’s qualities of compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, mercy, grace, and wisdom (among many others) are best reflected in our lives when we have an intimate relationship with Him. When God is the sole occupant in the altar of my heart, there is nothing that can make me feel worthless or unloved because I find my worth from God alone. I don’t need the validation of getting messages from guys or having likes on Instagram to satisfy me. 

If you are struggling with setting boundaries, then give yourself a break from the dating world and do some honest self-reflection. Know what you want before dating someone.  As a Christian, evaluate if the person you are dating is bringing you closer to God or away.  Setting physical or emotional boundaries shows maturity, clear expectations, and mutual respect. 

For more advice about determining who to date, check out my article here with advice from Ben Stuart.

 

2. Take healthy emotional risks and seek honest human connection 

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In order to develop courage, you must place yourself in situations that require courage. The same can be said for vulnerability and taking initiative. I’d rather invest my time and effort into getting to know someone rather than maintain shallow conversations. As scary as it is to tell someone that they matter to me, I think it is even more scary to never be able to communicate those feelings at all. 

According to Dr. Tammy Nelson, “Couples who are more willing to take risks often enjoy more intimate connections.” In addition, she adds, “Exposing your vulnerabilities shows trust.” In order for someone to get to know you, you have to take the risk of sharing who you really are, what you care about, and even your dreams for the future. Start small, develop that rapport and understanding, then gradually share the heavy and tough things. 

If it doesn’t work out, then at least you were able to practice taking healthy risks and courage. Maybe you made a new friend out of it too! It’s okay if someone doesn’t like you back, but it is not okay to let that disappointment destroy your self-esteem.

 

3. Stop scrolling through your phone all the time and enjoy life 

Idating 5t’s okay to not text the person you are dating ALL of the time. It’s okay to stop scrolling through social media mindlessly for hours. The best moments I’ve had with friends or dating experiences have been in real life, in person, doing something fun together. 

I won’t remember the nice text from someone as much as I will remember going to a museum, hiking, or just walking around at the park. Text messages do not build intimate relationships. Intimacy is formed by kind conversations about hard things, sharing your feelings, and laughing at your favorite TV show on the couch. It’s remembering her birthday, or getting him his favorite drink from Sonic on the way home. So take in the experience. Put down the phone, and have fun with the person you’re talking to!
Petit a Petit,

2018-04-19

Additional Resources: 

Everything Wrong with Dating Today by Matthew Hussey

Full “Who to Date” Message by Ben Stuart 

Phylicia Masonheimer Dating Advice (SO GOOD): https://phyliciamasonheimer.com/guarding-hearts-kissing-frogs-and-other-dating-mistakes-were-making/

Nurturing Self-Compassion Article: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/nurturing-self-compassion/201901/the-psychology-modern-dating

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