Commitmentphobes, Lonely-Romantics Microcheaters, Breadcrumbers, Ghosters: everyone I know is bad at love.
Tinder hides between my apps, in a folder aptly titled "games," sitting just next to Candy Crush. Modern dating makes it is so easy to create new connections, to start a conversation with a stranger while you're eating ice cream in bed and to forget about them before it's melted, each new face on the screen disposable, each new match mediocre. How do we navigate old ideas about love and romance in a new age that has transformed dating into an algorithm, a game, that treats finding the next person you have sex with the same way it treats ordering a meal (both will turn up late and leave you unsatisfied).
Love, largely seems to be the same. We continue to go through life as if we are fine on our own, until we bump into someone that makes it seem so obvious that we are not, really, fine. And then we partner up, become a 'we,' find a way to fit into some emotional tetris that seems to make sense. And despite the revolution of dating apps, of digital communication, we have continued to hold onto traditional ideas of love, remaining largely monogamous. Despite the fact that we can find sex with one swipe, we still continue to have sex with the same one person at a high rate and, we continue to cheat.
Cheating is no longer taboo, and no longer clear cut. The idea of cheating has evolved just as rapidly as dating, with apps and websites created to simplify cheating. As our private lives become increasingly more public via the advent of social media, they also become easier to conceal. 60 percent of men and over 45 percent of women will cheat at some point in their marriages. But what do we count as cheating? Is it Pornhub? Or sexting? Is it sending shower snaps? Do these micro-aggressions, these small acts of pulling away, signify cheating or are they simply a part of being in a modern relationship? When we have so much choice in dating, is it inevitable that we cheat?
Cheating has also become increasingly replaced with non-monogamy, which is not necessarily polyamory but in the venn diagram of relationships can include polyamory. Non-monogamy refers to being monogamish, everything that can fall outside of the idea of romantic and sexual relationships being between just two people. This type of relationship structure doesn’t shy away from the FOMO that comes from being in a long term monogamous relationship, and instead can mean couples having sexual partners outside of the relationship, having online sexual relationships (sexting) or simply being open to something more, beyond the idea of "You + Me = Forever."
So, we have a high rate of infidelity in modern relationships and an increasing rate of non-traditional relationship structures, and then what's in between? Turns out there is a lot in between, with modern dating providing a myriad of opportunities for the commitmentphobe (fuck boy) the emotionally unavailable (breadcrumber) and the insecure and indecisive (ghoster). There are countless ways to navigate the grey area between relationship and strangers, with the occasional text or snapchat enough to rekindle communication. These romantic powerplays can seem just as manipulative and harmful as traditional cheating, with all the time, effort, and investment in a relationship wasted once it fizzles and fades out.
Where does that leave us? Are we doomed to perpetually feel out of touch and out of contact with potential love interests, only to have them cheat on us in one way or another? Is monogamy dead (R.I.P)? Maybe the real relationship we're in is with our tech devices – it's easy to pretend through a screen, and the rejection hurts less. Moving on to real face to face communication – I don’t think so. Or maybe, despite the changes in technology, the new ways to meet people and reach people, loving people has stayed intrinsically the same. I guess we're all just stumbling around in the dark, trying to find the light switch that will make everything bright and clear.