Dating in the Era of Social Media

Article by Christine Ritah

The art of falling in love has been lost. The thrill of waiting by the phone for a call from your love interest has become obsolete due to the constant contact made available through the use and popularity of smartphones and social apps.

With the explosion of dating apps, a different sort of mating pattern has emerged. Instead of making acquaintances in social spaces like a coffee shop, at the gym, mall, or in Church, finding someone you share common interests with, and riding off into the sunset with them, we’ve traded this in for sliding pictures left or right and then meeting up for ‘Netflix and chill.’ Speaking of Netflix, I hope you’ve watched The Tinder Swindler by now.

Before social media, there was the phone. The biggest game played was how long to wait till one calls after a date. Now, you not only have the phone, but you also have text messaging, Face timing, Facebook/Twitter, Instagram, and WhatsApp. You have to put thought into what you are posting, liking, or commenting on.

Most of us are guilty of showing just the right pictures online. People don’t post the bad times or the times they are heartbroken. If they do, we say they just want attention and write them off. While I don’t think social media is the place to share your toughest moments, this also means we all look like we have the “perfect” life, talking about how happy we are. No one discusses how he or she went through a difficult time because we are told we can’t show vulnerability.

If you are single in your late 20s, 30s, or 40s, your friends, parents, and relatives are probably harassing you about when you’ll meet a nice guy or girl. Meeting a nice guy or girl in this day and age is close to impossible because of the presence of Social Media. We’ve grown up telling ourselves we deserve the best, we don’t have to settle for less, we should know our worth blah blah blah.

Expectations are made based on fictional relationships and scenarios leading to continuous disappointments. On Instagram, we compare our relationships to those seemingly happy couples and wonder why we can’t find that. In reality, we are all struggling. That ‘perfectly happy’ couple you follow on Instagram could be fighting every night, go days without communication, and still post photos together all smiles and cuddles. Those who genuinely like the couple would comment with smiley faces and fire emojis. The bitter ones would comment ‘mtaachana tu’ a famous Swahili lingo meaning ‘you will just break up.’ The guy could be abusing the girl but we’d probably never know until it gets nasty and blows up then ‘social media in-laws’ and KOT would run with a hashtag full of criticism. These comparisons not only ruin our self-worth but also the ability to find ourselves worthy of finding a good partner.

Culturally, our expectations of relationships have changed; people are getting married later in life, and many people are eager to explore relationships in a less structured way without pressure to commit, as they prioritize self-knowledge and developing as individuals. I do acknowledge that women in past generations lived hoping to get married, have children and be perfect wives to their husbands. This zeal for marriage is slowly being killed by Gen Z and some Millennials who think that marriage is nothing short of a white picket fence and if that’s not the case then ‘it’s never that serious’ as most Gen Zers would say.

You probably have had a series of dating rules. Remember Steve Harvey’s popular 90-day rule? How many of you have followed through with that? Well, I bet 1 out of 10. Have you tried listing out all the dating tips and advice you’ve come across on Social media? Date for at least a year; don’t date anyone more than a year; put clear boundaries in place; date a bunch of people before settling down; don’t date anyone until you are ready to marry; spend quality time together; be careful of the amount of time you spend together, I could go on and on.

Dating is exhausting. Playing all the little games gets ridiculous. Putting yourself out there is hard. You never know when that person you really like or are deeply in love with will simply wake up one morning and say ‘nope’ there’s someone better. I should probably look elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, it can happen. If you find that person who truly wants a life partner and is willing to fight through this crazy life with you, you can have that happily ever after.


SOURCEChristine Ritah is a Social Media Content Creator.
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