By Ashley Albertson
We all know the world of dating is complicated. In fact, I bet you can almost immediately think of an example of messy relationships either in your own life or someone close to you. Why is something so important and so coveted in our society so difficult?
We watch movies where the guy gets the girl and the movie ends, no mention of the effort it takes to make it work with the girl. I think we’ve been convinced that happily ever after is achievable with no work, no education, no change. If relationships are so important why are we willing to spend zero time in investing in them, running at the first sign of emotional danger? Why are we willing to accept a hookup in place of a committed relationship? We are increasingly attracted to a more informal, casual approach to dating, and are far more likely to “jump in the sack” at a much earlier stage than ever before. The ease of access and mass acceptance of social media and dating apps, 50 million Tinder uses alone, as well as a decline in traditional social norms and attitudes to relationships all contribute to this, as does a more relaxed attitude to dating and relationships.
For too long we have been told that this is acceptable. That happily ever after is not within our grasp and, if it is, it’s too hard to maintain. Happily ever after IS attainable, it IS worth waiting for and it IS maintainable. We are capable of taking control of our dating lives, and making informed, healthy decisions about what we want. If that is something you are interested in here are some hints and tips about how to navigate through hookup culture and live happily (and emotionally healthy) ever after! What can we do??
DATE WITH INTENTION Knowing what you want from your dating life, and later on from your relationships, and actively pursuing this, is key. Hookup culture can encourage a casual, ephemeral approach to dating, which leads to insecurity and a lack of self-confidence. Set yourself standards, stick to them, and don’t apologize for holding yourself and others to them. Be confident, and express yourself rather than constantly trying to impress others. Setting high standards and knowing what you want from dates and relationships doesn’t necessarily mean upholding traditional values, or getting super intense from the get-go. But it allows you to be clear-sighted about what you are doing, what you want, where things are going, and what other people can offer in dating. It allows you to date with confidence. All it really means is that you are mindful of your own emotions and your own actions. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF Of course, it is incredibly hard to pursue what you want, and to express yourself to your partner, if you don’t know exactly what you actually DO want, and if you can’t be honest with yourself. Take the time to really get to grips with your needs and desires, and be honest about what you are looking for, and what you are happy to do. The dating world is always far larger than people think, and there is always going to be someone who wants the same things as you. Being honest with yourself, and connecting with your own emotions, is a really important part of navigating hookup culture and dating successfully. Because dating is more casual and less formal in today’s world, things can move faster and you may find you have less time to think, and to feel. If you are honest with yourself about what you want, and what you are feeling, you’ll be able to deal with issues that come at you fast far more effectively.
COMMUNICATE Communication is all-important in any relationship and at any stage in life. It is, however, particularly important when it comes to dealing with hookup culture. Once you are honest with yourself about what you want, and have set yourself standards, you need to communicate with the people you date, or want to date. One of the biggest pitfalls of today’s dating world is lack of communication and lack of clarity about what each person is looking for from the relationship. Of course, this doesn’t mean you have to hand over a ten-point plan for your whole life together on the first date! It just means that being open and clear about your intentions, and your hopes for the future is key, and will lead to a far more successful dating life than otherwise. DON’T BE AFRAID OF REJECTION Rejection happens, even in the best of circumstances. You’ll find people who aren’t looking for the same things as you, and perhaps even those who aren’t as comfortable addressing these sorts of issues. But rejection is a natural part of dating, and it is important that you don’t let the possibility of things not working change the way you act, or the way you feel about yourself. Ultimately, although being more open and honest may initially bring some negative responses, it will achieve far greater, more enjoyable and more productive results in the long run. Relationships are hard in the best of times, and the emergence of hookup culture has only added more layers to the complication. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and with the right combination of confidence, honesty and openness you will be able to enjoy yourself, keep yourself safe, and eventually find love and happiness! Your happily ever after is worth fighting for.