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SCARED SINGLE – PART ONE ‘Love’ on Demand: Keeping Your Options Open

By on October 12, 2015

The Scared Single series is a glimpse into modern dating and the hurdles millennials face on their road to the chuppah.  

Marriage continues to be a milestone most people aim for.  Ask the previous generation about its take on our generation’s dating and you’ll be greeted with gasps, prayers, and an overarching sense of flabbergast.  

“Why are you so picky?”  

Events such as fundraisers and charity events are teeming with eligible singles, ironically complaining at the event that there’s no one to date in this community.  They seem to be waiting around for something better – someone new – at the next event, perhaps?  And if you’ve outgrown the “low-tech” approach to finding someone, a plethora of “high-tech” mobile dating apps gives you a flood of new faces, along with the freedom of indicating interest without the fear of rejection.  

In an age of instant gratification centered on customization of just about everything material, that mentality starts to impact our mindset in our pursuit of a successful, meaningful relationship.  Though our generation’s experience with customizability has been pretty pleasant – we get everything we want, and nothing we don’t – we inherently know that our human experiences (personal and professional) should be fluid constructs centered around qualities that need to persist beyond the here and now.  

Timeless adages passed on to us such as “no one is perfect” and “marriage is full of compromises” may sound like deeply wise and grounded hindsight, but access to love on demand puts us in the driver’s seat, swipe-chasing that perfect, uncompromising fantasy person.  And that chase can quickly turn into an aimless, seemingly endless pursuit – it leads us to objectify, and ultimately talk our way out of, the prospects that are the basis of our motivation for attending that event or downloading that app in the first place.   

Think about your relationship role model.  The cornerstones of that relationship likely were traits of longevity: commitment, loyalty, devotion, mutual respect, partnership, etc.  The struggle in our generation lies in whether we have the ability to determine who is the best life partner for us.  And even if we clear that hurdle, the next hurdle is whether we have the fortitude to commit, since there’s the everflowing temptation to look behind door number 2, and to customize just a little bit more.  

The never-before-seen wave of the cropped social media image gives the average single person access to thousands of highlights of other people’s relationships, which begin to flood our own relationship psyche, setting and resetting standards for what we desire.  We know those images aren’t exactly real – the heartwarming anniversary tweets, the perfect proposals, the emotional thank you videos – largely taken out of the greater context of that poster’s life – but we consciously and subconsciously internalize them anyway.  

Dating against the backdrop, and dare I say threat, of cropped imagery and instant gratification seems to run counter to the development of an authentic relationship – and the need to account for the now and later. There’s this intense pressure to continue cropping that JSwipe profile, be a little flashier at the event, in the hopes of grabbing attention of prospects in that split second swiping window, in that surveying of the ballroom.

How can you attract a partner and develop a relationship which evolves in line with the greatest relationships you have witnessed when you know the person on the other side may still itch to access love on demand?  How can you act naturally, be yourself safely, showing real and raw dimensions the other person may not really want to see but are part and parcel to who you are, in a culture of cropping?  

Along with the freedoms not afforded to previous generations, our generation has the freedom of self-discovery, which theoretically gives us a shot at ultimate choice and happiness.  Instead, in a culture of cropping and comparing, I think we’ve swapped the freedom to know and be ourselves with the freedom to swipe.  There’s no doubt that losing that freedom generates fear.  

That fear stems from what we can’t seem to understand, get a hold of, and quite frankly communicate to our elders – we can’t gain the confidence to make choices to start that journey towards our very own elusive model relationship.

Maybe our answer to those prodding and indicting pickiness questions should reflect the new era of instant gratification we choose to live in: “Honestly, I really enjoy the thrill of keeping my options open.”  

Imagining giving that shame-laced answer, we may invariably stumble across the naked truth…that we may not be more free, that we may not be better off and that we are ultimately scared single because we live in the age of love on demand.

 

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About Eyal Aharonov, Esq.

Eyal Aharonov was born in Israel to Persian and Bukharian parents, raised in Los Angeles and is the youngest of three boys. Eyal was raised with a deep connection to Judaism and to Zionism. Through his education in the United States, he has developed a sense of awareness and responsibility for Judaism in the Diaspora. As a result, he joined the Skribe team to help create and facilitate a dialogue among his generation of Jews in Los Angeles.