The Dating Paradox

Social media has been linked to higher levels of loneliness, envy, anxiety, depression, narcissism and decreased social skills. As a Behavioral Scientist, I wonder what causes this paradox? The narratives we share and portray on social media are all positive and celebratory. It’s a hybridized digital version of “Keeping up with the Joneses”. Meaning for some, sometimes it appears everyone you know are in great relationships, taking 5-star vacations and living your dream life.

However, what is shared only broadcasts the positive aspects of our lives-the highlight reels.

Since we’re only getting people’s highlight reels and comparing it to ourselves, it is natural to have reactions to what we’re watching. How does this impact relationships, dating and our love lives? I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active social media users and found that:

  • 60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way
  • 50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationship
  • 80% reported that is easier to deceive others through their social posting

Paradox Effect

It seems that social media is creating a paradox effect: giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options. Can it be that our highly connected world has now become disconnected? Posting dinners, selfies and vacay photos over human interaction for some is interaction. That IS their interaction. The paradox effect in dating is creating the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity, but masking one’s true persona. Since some are interfacing digitally more than physically it is much easier to emotionally manipulate others because they are reliant on what I call “Vanity Validation”. The one you portray on your networks and the true you, for some creates a double consciousness. Your lauded self on social media is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes, not life. 

Vanity Validation

In the latest Match Singles in America study’s findings on how social media has impacted people’s dating lives, they found that 57% of singles say social media has generated a Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO). In my study, 50% reported feeling FOMO when comparing themselves to others on social media, while 60% of millennials reported feeling FOMO. Are we comparing ourselves to other people’s highlight reels? Are we creating a false reality? It seems that we’re only willing to share things that get positive reinforcement. If we’re living through only focusing on the highlight reels, how do we express the negative side of our lives?

If you’re comparing yourself to someone else’s profile, aren’t you discounting yourself? Anything that we share on our streams are things that we’re either excited about or creating some popularity for yourself. Are we supposed to applaud that you eat? Are we supposed to applaud that you are out? Are we supposed to applaud the 100th seflie you took while you were out? Are we beginning to learn to relate to people for immediate gratification only?

Won’t this impact our dating behaviors? If we only broadcast the “look at me”, are we able to deal with the side of rejection, detachment, and non-commitment? Are you surprised when people blow you off or lead you on aka ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb? Yet another paradox. Here we are thinking the world is a positive and reinforcing place, that we are interesting, we’re so popular; then we get ghosted, breadcrumbed, benched.

What people don’t tell you about dating the wrong types.

When you’re dating down, you aren’t always aware that you are doing it. I came up with an inventory to help you identify some of the red flags on Stop dating down! If you are doing 4 or more of these things, chances are you are settling in your relationship. Once you realize this is a feature of your relationships, then you can see if this yields a pattern in your life.

So, let’s begin by talking about the types of thinking that occurs, then we’ll talk about what occurs as a result.

Type 1: I know that s/he isn’t xyz, but they possess abc.cheating

Type 2: I know that s/he isn’t what I normally date, but I was unsuccessful with my past types.

Both types create a false sense of intimacy, hope, trust, and disillusionment in the relationship. If you are lying to yourself in the relationship, it’s easy to disillusion yourself about the realities of the relationship. In addition to decreasing your standards, you are changing your tolerance level of other people’s lies they tell themselves and you accepting it as your reality (their bullshit).

Which invariably creates Type 3: I’m getting a shot at someone I normally wouldn’t have a shot with and this is great!  

This is creating a false sense of hope in someone else and they will apply that to their next relationship. Type 3 will pursue people that they probably wouldn’t ever approach because they have this new inflated self-esteem. While the person who has admitted to dating down, has a diminished self-esteem.

 

Top 10 things to bring in the New Year & new you!

Happy New Year! Hope your New Year is off to a great start! To help bring in the new you, here are top 10 things you can do:domp

1. Learn from the past, but don’t relive it in the future.

2. People are what they are not what you want them to be.

3. Once you accept someone for what they really are, they will surprise you by being better than what you expected.

4. Forgive yourself for your past sub-optimal decisions.

5. Seek out people that make you a better version of yourself.

6. Follow your gut. Period.

7. Be the type of person you would like to be in a relationship with.

8. Don’t lose yourself while trying to hold onto someone who doesn’t care about losing you.

9. Desperate is not sexy, confidence is.

10. Who you date is a function of your self-esteem.

Who you date is a function of your self-esteem

I have heard many clients throughout the years tell me that they can’t date someone that they really like because they are out of their league. I’m here to tell you that does not exist. You attract what you think you are worth.

When you are dating you are seeking people that you can relate to, that you admire, that you trust, that you can work collectively with to reach your common goals. In a sense it should be an extension of what you are and someone who enjoys you for who you are and what you will become. After all, you’re trying to find someone that compliments you and that makes you a better version of yourself. How can that occur if you’re working from a deficit from the very beginning? You’re already working against yourself because you’re concealing your insecurities. You’re not challenging your insecurities because the person isn’t helping you realize your fully actualized self. “Dating in your league” means it’s someone that you feel won’t challenge some of the pain you’ve experienced. You are hoping that you can avoid experiencing similar pain, but endure different pain. You just found someone that will keep you living at 70%.

The answer to why you will see a couple that you think “how did they get together” and “why can’t I get that”? Self-esteem! One or both of them abandoned the idea that they can’t attract what they really desire. What you desire is what you should pursue. Not the other way around. If you have a list, make sure you figured out what you want vs. what you need. Ask yourself if it’s based on characteristics vs not getting hurt. Sometimes you replace familiar hurt with new hurt.

wvsn