I’m at a point in my life that many other young adults seem to be at. Single and out in the world. More and more in the last couple years I’ve come to realize that dating is really hard when you don’t have an environment full of other people in similar age and interest i.e. college. Dating in college was easy. It was a high concentration of people similar in age and plenty of groups that had similar interests. The sheer probability of finding your “soul mate” is significantly higher simple due to density. Out in the normal world though, those groups of people similar in age an interest are more spread out over much large areas. This leads to a huge drop in probability of just randomly running into somebody that might be compatible with you. Simply put, dating in college is like shooting fish in a barrel. You still might miss but the chance of hitting is pretty dang high. Dating outside of college though, its like deep sea fishing. There just so many other fish over such a large area that you could get a nibble but it might just get uninterested and you’re back to square one.
So how does one improve their probability of finding true love? Well, from what I’ve observed, people seem to just move to other ponds and try their luck. I guess a better metaphor for dating in college and dating in the real world is that in college, there’s one big pond with lots of fish, in the real world there are an infinite amount of ponds with varying populations of fish. These ponds are basically mini microcosms that have one similar thing in common and all the fish there share that same commonality. These can be commonalities such as religion, work, a group activity, or just a general social gathering place that has alcohol (a bar). More and more with the digital age becoming more normalize, there are new ponds like Facebook groups, online forums, MMO games. The one that seems to be the most unpredictable is online dating.
I’ve tried online dating, I mean who hasn’t by now, and I have to say it’s a very interesting topic of social science. If I were to put a name to the type of commonality that brings people into the online dating ponds, it would be “people who are single but are tired of being single and are picky.” That last part might be a bit harsh but lets think about this for a second. In an online dating profile, whether its a large dating site, like OkCupid or Eharmony, or a dating app like Tinder or Bumble, its basic frame work is “who are you, now who are you looking for.” In all cases of online dating, everyone has a choice of different potential partners and can weed out anybody based on information that is given out willing. Everyone is trying to sell themselves all while trying to pick the right person to give a chance. With time being more and more of a commodity in our society its no wonder that more and more people are turning to online dating to try and just pick the right person right off the bat. Also with our growing consumerist culture of always wanting the highest rated food or best reviewed product, we are turning ourselves into perfectionists without even knowing it. You can now shop for a life partner the same way you can shop for a car.
Now, I’m not trying to condone online dating and know that there are countless couples that have success stories with online dating. It’s worked for me a couple times too. I’m just saying that this is a pretty significant shift in our culture. The main difference with online dating and with just going to different ponds is that the way that relationships are built are flip flopped. In these “ponds” you already have a shared interest and are typically already getting to know that person without the cliff notes on their life whereas with online dating, we can read who each person is before even meeting them and physically interacting with them. It’s backwards from what people have been doing for years.
For me, even writing this is sort of eye opening of how I should change my approach to dating. Being an introvert though has made it difficult to want to leave me fortress of solitude and venture out and interact with people, but, I think the fear of that could be decreased by finding a group of people with a single interest and becoming a part of that pond. Having something to talk about with random strangers definitely makes it a lot less anxiety filled. I envy those that can just walk into a bar or social space and just be a charismatic ball of awesome, though I’m learning that this can be a learned skill, but even just that scene doesn’t seem like me anyway.
For now I will probably keep doing what I told myself I was going to do last June. I’m going to work on myself and improving myself both mentally and physically. I decided that I should focus my energy in improving my emotional intelligence as well as learn to actually love myself. More and more as I’ve been reflecting on all my past relationships and trying to puzzle what went wrong, I’ve been realizing that it really wasn’t them, but me. Though my very supportive and loving friends would tell me that they were missing out and that they fucked up, I’m coming to terms that it really was my own fault for driving those relationships to the ground with whatever my skewed perception of a relationship was to me at that time. All in all, its a new year with new beginnings and continuing promises to myself that I made late last year. The more I work on myself the better the next relationship will be, whenever that is.
One final thought. Statistically speaking at my age, the probability for me is slowly declining but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have the ability to increase my chances. Good things come with time and I’ll just keep aging myself like a fine wine and hope I don’t become corked before it’s too late.