As a woman, I think about relationships excessively. We have a genetic tendency to analyze and obsess over them, why they work, why they don’t, how to fix them if they’re broken . . .
And during my analysis, I can’t help but notice that relationships have drastically changed in the past 15 years. The culprit? Facebook. Texting. Social Media.
Young men and women now have these brilliant ways of sizing each other up and flirting without any of the risk, and therefore they are more likely to walk into relationships because relationships can happen so easily. You can spend hours creeping on someone’s Facebook profile without saying a word to him or her before you decide if the person is really your “type” or not. Likewise, a surefire way to protect yourself against boredom is texting—whether or not you’re really interested in the guy or girl. It’s entertainment. It’s ego-feeding. It also messes with people.
I’m not saying social media is from the devil and is corrupting all of our relationships. In fact, I use social media more than the average person, and I met my fiancé on Twitter. But social media does change the game. Today it takes a lot more effort to be clear with your intentions, and most people find safety in the ambiguity . . . which in turn promotes insecurity.
Today it is almost unheard of for people not to text or be friends on Facebook before initiating anything further. After all, you can tell a lot about someone from an “lol” and a series of emoticons. But it’s so easy to get attached to someone you talk to every day and hang out with regularly before you are in a commitment.
As a result, it has become exceedingly difficult to know where one stands in a relationship without a “DTR” (defining the relationship). In decades past, opposite-sex friendships did not exist as they do today. With the rise of coed friendships, confusion has also increased. Are we just friends? Does he like me as more? Do I like him as more? Could this turn into something?
I don’t care what you say—it is EXTREMELY rare for neither party in an opposite-sex friendship to not, at one point, at least entertain romantic feelings, even if fleetingly. And maybe you’re sitting there thinking, “Not true, I’ve never liked _______, and we’ve been friends for years!” Okay, cool. Congratulations, I’m happy for you. But that doesn’t mean he or she has never thought about liking YOU.
The cavalier attitude most of us have adopted when it comes to dating has its pros and cons. On the one hand, we can get to know someone really well as a friend without the pressure straight out of the gate. On the other, it can cause unnecessary emotional floundering about the status of the relationship, and it makes it exceedingly easy to bow in and out depending on our mood.
Research has shown that if a person feels that his or her likelihood of being rejected for a date is high, there is a better chance he or she will ask through a text in a nonchalant manner, rather than bucking up the courage to ask in person. Not exactly transparent living.
Additionally, another aspect that has not stayed the same is the terminology. Until recent years, when a couple was exclusive, they were considered to be “going steady.” Now, an official couple is just “dating,” which in generations past was the stage before exclusivity. The technical term for the gray area between friendship and dating is now deemed “talking.”
What does talking even mean? I talk to all my friends. No wonder everyone is confused all the time. How can anyone tell if you are friend-talking or crush-talking? I feel as if we are back in the Dark Ages, when people went into “negotiations” for arranged marriages . . . only with dating. “I’ll give you four goats and a big-screen TV if you throw in date nights once a week . . .?”
Philippians 1:10 states that we are to be men (and women) of transparent character. Our duty and calling as Christians is to be transparent in all that we do, including dating and getting to know people. You don’t have to put all the cards on the table in the first five minutes of meeting, but be honest. It’s too easy to get sucked into pseudorelationships in this age without even meaning to. Express your interest, or lack thereof, to avoid putting someone through emotional turmoil. Have respect for one another, even if it is easy to put off the DTR until you decide for sure. If you don’t know, tell him or her that you don’t know! Be courteous, be honest, and be careful.