The Male Perspective on Modern Dating
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Seriously, what the f*ck?
What exactly has gone so haywire in recent history to cause mass confusion and disappointment in the world of dating and relationships?
As a millennial who professionally writes, speaks, and coaches on the topic, I was also navigating the space as a single man myself for many years.
Here are a few things I observed along the way before I met Rachel:
Meeting women is becoming exponentially harder…but also easier (?)
I’m 35. Even as recently as 10 years ago I’d say that meeting women was far easier in person. We could say hello in a club or bar, or even exchange eye contact on the street.
Forget going back a few decades ago when it was charming for a man to invite a woman on a date.
Since the advent of online dating and social media’s high inventory of creepy dudes, there is a growing distrust towards men. And, rightfully so in many cases.
So many guys have used the tools that are supposed to make our lives easier, to mess everything up.
Ghosting on dating apps, inappropriate comments on social media, unsolicited dick pics…it’s no wonder that women are inherently suspicious of every new man who approaches them.
This makes navigating the dating world ten times harder. How are we to earn trust if we don’t get an opportunity to do so in the first place?
On the flip side, it’s almost too easy to swipe through dating apps and spark up conversations. Just a few seconds looking at some photos are all we need to know if we want to chat someone up. But, since there are 100 other options just a swipe away, the depth of our conversations doesn’t usually have a chance to bloom.
Therein lies the problem. High frequency, low depth. When presented with too many options literally 24/7, the romance and novelty of meeting someone new is extinguished and replaced with the same hit of dopamine that we feel when we get a new Instagram follower.
I believe that living a life of dignity and self-respect will send the proper message to potential partners. Having a variety of interests, passions, goals — and relentlessly pursuing them regardless of your relationship status. This is what gets us in the door, but then we must be authentic and consistent if we want to stay.
Our roles have shifted.
How do men bring value in a relationship?
Years ago, we were the “breadwinners” while our wives would stay at home and care for the children. As women have (fortunately) excelled professionally and socially. Many are out-earning the men who are courting them.
Here’s why so many see this as a challenge:
The outdated but traditional role that men are told to play is that of provider. Old-school norms are passed down through generations that perpetuate archaic views of identity and gender roles.
Essentially, the evolution of society is outpacing us.
Our fathers and grandfathers simply grew up in a world that no longer exists. This means that many times, the lessons they teach us are obsolete (particularly the grand-generation. Not as much with our parents).
So, what’s a man to do?
We must rewire our mindset and shift the way we think about the value we bring to a woman’s life. A woman who will be an equal teammate and partner to you doesn’t care what you drive, where you live, or how much money you make (unless she’s making sure you’re on her level).
She cares about your ability to be compassionate, to provide emotional support, to match her ambition and challenge her intellectually as she does for you.
Women who have a future planned for themselves are not looking for someone who can take care of them financially, but emotionally. Can she rely on you? Can you rely on yourself? Do you display confidence and reliability? Trustworthiness? Can she see you as someone she could raise a family with?
Our new roles as men run far deeper than previous generations. We are no longer expected to go to boring jobs and come home to crack open a beer and sink into the couch while our wives bring us dinner (Thankfully). We are equals and teammates in all areas since the woman in our life is likely working just as hard (if not harder) than we are — even if that means having the full time job of staying at home with the kids.
This means that getting into a relationship should be intentional. Deliberate. If you’re over 25 years old then odds are the women you’re dating are not just looking for a random fling (unless they say so). They’re looking for a partner that they can take seriously and build a life with. I personally stayed single for a very long time because I knew I was not ready to enter this phase of life. I encourage you to do the same.
Speaking of which: Why is it so hard to be honest?
Here’s where the professional in me comes out: I have spoken to literally thousands of women over the years and one of the biggest complaints I hear about men is that they never say what they actually mean. In particular, they lie about looking for commitment when all they want is just a casual fling.
Maybe it’s our fear of rejection. If we subconsciously know that being honest about what we want (or don’t want) will get us rejected, then we’ll avoid it at all costs. Obviously this is wrong and dishonest. Yet, here we are.
Perhaps we don’t actually know what we want.
Let’s think about the landscape many men are growing up in. Our Instagram feedsare flooded with photos of beautiful women 24/7. We see outlandish travel photos, exotic cars, beautiful mansions. We are always being reminded of our own insecurities and it skews our view of reality. On top of that, it smacks us in the face with messaging about what we “should” be pursuing in life.
According to whom?
Such constant stimulus make it difficult to stop and reflect on our actual wants, needs, and desires.
All of the fancy images we see are fun and can be a cherry on the sundae of life, but they do not bring real fulfillment, love, and happiness at the end of the day.
We create that by feeling good about ourselves when we’re by ourselves.
If we don’t figure this out and fully absorb it, I believe that we will always be living in a reactive state where we just want everything that flashes in front of us.
This includes women.
How can we choose one woman and stay committed to her if it looks like all of these bikini-models are ready to jump off the screen at us if we just “like” their photo at the right time?
I’ll tell you how: By actually figuring out what the hell you want in your life.
If we don’t feel supported and encouraged as men to take this internal journey, we’ll never be able to define the destination. And if we don’t have a “goal,” how can we know if we’ve reached it?
Thus begins the cycle of uncertainty for the modern man. What do we want? Who should we be? What is our role in society and in relationships?
Why is nobody helping us figure it out?
WHERE ARE THE ROLE MODELS?
I think we’re being fed the wrong message by those with influence.
Real fulfillment in life does not come from constantly chasing the next goal or dream or woman or wish. It doesn’t come from the constant hustle that you pursue without a real reason why.
It comes from defining our own path and determining what is important to us as individuals no matter what anyone thinks.
It comes from walking this path and celebrating the wins along the way.
It comes from enjoying the journey. Embracing life and love. Feeling gratitude for what we have while we pursue the things we want. Building a life of meaning, purpose, and clarity.
This doesn’t always mean having a partner. Some people want to stay single forever and nobody should have a problem with that (as long as they’re being honest about their intentions).
But for those who do want a teammate, we must project what we want to attract.
Trustworthiness, consistency, authenticity. A kind heart and genuine intentions. Compassion for those around us. Open communication and clarity around our own identity and purpose.
This is how we set ourselves apart from the noise. This is how we separate ourselves from the pack. This is how we show that we are not the same as all the other guys — and not just say it in hopes that someone will believe us.
Dating shouldn’t be about what you can do to attract the right partner, it should be about who you’re able to become. Therein lies the rub.
Doing the inner work to build yourself as a whole and complete man who lives his life with honor and dignity is a win-win strategy. Either you meet a woman who has done the same work and you thrive together, or you stay single and enjoy a fulfilled life regardless of your relationship status.
No matter how much society and the world around us changes, one truth will always remain the same:
The most important relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. If that one isn’t healthy, none of your others will be.
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