Next GEN Dating
Why it’s more important than ever to be honest about what you want in your next relationship.
If love were a TV channel and we were producers, ‘Soulmate’ is one show that we wouldn’t recommission. Not because of the idea behind it (we love clicking with people). Not even because the one in 7.125 billion odds of stumbling upon your designated person aren’t exactly great. But because in an era where your Follower count has the potential to open more doors than your postcode, the idea of finding that one person – and only the one – feels … small.
In the pre-Internet days, soulmates had a god-like status because it was so hard to meet people. And when you did, there was no ‘swipe left’ function. So if you finally saw someone attractive who had the same taste in music and chips, it was considered a miracle.
Today, however, we’re pretty spoilt for choice. Social media is ubiquitous, across platforms like Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat and Tinder – each account a portal for sparking rich, exciting, even romantic connections. So what’s the secret to handling the dating game like a professional? One (big) word: Transparency. In fact, defining your intentions – AKA where you’re at in terms of your stage in life – and matching it with another’s has never been more sanity-saving.
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Increased connectivity not only broadens the number of potential partners, but the type of relationship we could have with them, too. “The exposure to more forms of sexuality leads to a growing level of comfort with types of relationships that were previously seen as abnormal,” explains clinical psychologist Gemma Cribb ( equilibriumpsychology.com.au).
Today’s relationships fall somewhere between ‘Let’s just have sex’ and ‘We’re boyfriend and girlfriend’. Not convinced? Well, Gen-Y news website Mic.com has coined the apt term ‘dating partners’ to describe this very modern scenario, of dating someone – having sex, days (and nights) out, deep conversations – without agreed exclusivity. And this new term applies to data analyst Ella, 24, who now calls herself a ‘tech-sexual ’. After a complicated break-up with the guy she’d known since she was 15, she turned to Tinder for comfort. “It’s my ‘10pm stage’,” she says. “Around that time every night, me and a guy I just met on Tinder start texting, which usually ends in sexting. It’s a fun confidence boost – for now.”
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With even more dating categories, there’s now less clarity about where we stand within them. We only become our own worst enemies when we stop thinking ‘Where do I want this to go?’ and replace it with ‘Must. Act. Chill ’.
Student Zoe, 22, tries to follow her own set of rules. “I make sure I don’t text too often,” she admits. “And I never send more than one message before they reply. I try to be easygoing about the fact that we’ve slept together for two months and I have no idea where things are going. Inside, I’m freaking out.”
Although, according to Cribb, there’s a potential danger in not being open about what you want, as it might leave you vulnerable to experiencing trauma, low self-esteem and getting hurt.
Plus there’s also the bigger picture: “In trying so hard to be ‘one of the guys’ or ‘not like most girls’, we promote the idea that women are flawed or inferior,” says lawyer Rachel, 29, a former member of the ‘chill ’ cult. And – truth bomb – most guys actually want to know what’s going on with you. Consultant Neil, 26, wants women to tell him what they really want. “Because I care, and I don’t always know what’s happening,” he explains. “Think of TV – all those romantic rows in shows could be easily fixed if the people involved just opened up. Just be straight up about it!”
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Romantic connections have never been more ambiguous. An attractive person might ask you out for drinks but have an ulterior motive of getting that superimportant job at your company. Or you can spend an hour drinking coffee with someone but only really sense they’re interested once they start following (and ‘liking’) you on Instagram. Frustrating? Yep, you bet. However, instead of getting angry, get curious. Ask the question to find out if you’re both at the same stage. That’s exactly what writer Jenny, 27, did after dating Adam, who was “a dream on paper”, for nine months. “He was a DJ who’d toured with Calvin Harris – bearded, funny, hipster-cool,” she says. “But I was always the one arranging dates. I put it down to him being disorganised, until I eventually asked him where he saw our relationship going. His reply? ‘Nowhere.’ He wanted to focus on his music. I wish I had have asked about his game plan in the first month – I can’t get those wasted eight months back now.”
Sometimes just ‘seeing each other’ isn’t enough. And, you know what, that is absolutely okay.
Straight up – are you looking for Mr Right
or Mr Right Now?