Is 21st Century dating unnatural?

Speed dating. Internet dating. Meeting for the express purpose to see if there’s a romantic spark.

Some people say this is unnatural. When we date this way, we base our decision to see each other again on very little information, mostly physical. Even after days, weeks, or months of emails, texts, IMs and calls, it can all fizzle if there’s no physical spark.

In the “natural” way, you met someone through friends, work, class, the neighborhood, gym, church, etc. You had some interaction with him, usually over a period of time, and got to know him a bit. You were perhaps physically attracted to him, but you were also attracted to how he spoke, treated you and treated others. Once you went out you knew you were drawn to him at some level.

Some cultures take the picking entirely out of the couple’s hands. Using matchmakers or arranged marriages, others decide who would be right for you. Many, many of these marriages have not only been happy, but have lasted until one partner died. They learned to love each other, even if there was no initial spark.

While we know millions of people have met, fallen in love and established committed relationships through the new dating techniques, it doesn’t work for a lot of people. However, if you live in a small town with limited age-appropriate singles, or work alone, or have family responsibilities that limit your social interaction, it may be hard to meet people the “natural” way. So you look to the “unnatural” ways to fill the void.

The Twenty-first Century methods, however, set up an awkwardness that isn’t found in the older methods. On the first date you are evaluating: “Do I like his hair? His manner? His humor? His clothes? His conversation? Does he give and take in the discussion? Does he seem to take care of himself? Did he have too many drinks at dinner? Does he badmouth his ex?” The list is endless. Men do the same thing.

treadmillWhen meeting someone in the natural way, you are not in “date” mode. You’re just hanging out, or doing some activity at the same time, perhaps jogging on the treadmill next to each other. If you enjoy each other’s company, after a few times of this, one of you will suggest coffee afterwards. That may happen a few times before one of you suggests a movie, dinner, or other activity. You’ve grown fond of each other a bit before starting down the dating path. You’re not evaluating him in the same way you are on a first virtually blind date.

However, in the natural way, you don’t necessarily know if he’s married if he’s not wearing a wedding ring. You don’t know if he’s in a relationship. And yes, people can (and do) lie online about their relationship status, most tell the truth. People lie in person, too. If you met someone through a social circle, you can quickly check with others to see what they know about him. But even that is not always accurate, depending on what he’s told them.

What do you think? Do you think today’s new way of dating is better because you know more about a man than someone you met at a class or at the gym? What do you see as the advantages of the “natural” and “unnatural” ways of dating?

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4 responses to “Is 21st Century dating unnatural?”

  1. Geoff Farnsworth Avatar

    I think the natural way is far better. I suggest you try the “21st century” methods but put most of your energy in expanding your social circle. Look for groups and communities that you’d enjoy being a part of whether or not you meet a “special someone”. You’ll be enriched and the chance of meeting someone that you’d want to be in a relationship is improved. Geoff,

  2. sginjersey Avatar

    Dating is dating once you get past the initial contact and mutual interest is established. You’re actually talking about how we go about meeting men/women. Online sites are just another tool to find potential partners and has obvious advantages and disadvantages which have been discussed here many times before (although I think for the most part they are a great way to connect, especially since we are so busy and geographically spread out compared to 20-30 years ago). Meeting someone online or in person doesn’t seem to influence the ultimate outcome in my experience.

  3. hunter Avatar

    I like speed dating and natural. With speed, one can weed out the ones that we are not attracted very quickly. Also, we force ourselves to converse with someone we just met, possibly, keeping us pliable to a certain extent.

  4. dixie Avatar

    Agree with all above but I would love to try speed dating. Not offered in my area. At 49, feel that I could “learn to date” more easily.