Intimacy, commitment, and courtship feel like ancient traditions compared to the new and hyper-sexual dating scene Generation Z now inhabits. Hookup culture reigns supreme, and everyone is worried about "catching feelings," not falling in love. It isn't all tragedy though. There are still men and women out there who want love, commitment, marriage, and family. The trick is to figure out how to wade through the unlikelies as unscathed as possible before finding your future spouse. Here are three things to keep in mind as you navigate the dating culture today:
Hookup Culture Destroys Genuine Connections
Few people understand the damage you can do to yourself by engaging in copious amounts of casual sex. Because there’s no such thing as consequence-free casual sex.
Research from the Medical Institute for Sexual Health shows that when we have sex with someone we release a chemical in the brain called oxytocin. This “love hormone” creates a feeling of attachment, affection, and bonding to the person we’re intimate with. In ideal circumstances, the release of this hormone would be the beginning of a pair-bonding experience that would tie you to another person for life. Casual sex, however, leads to a decrease in oxytocin over time, as the brain wires itself for bonds to be broken over and over again. This is not to say that it will be impossible to pair bond with a person after many casual sex experiences, only that it will be harder and result in a different kind of neurochemical experience than someone who has not engaged in repeated casual sex.
Casual sex leads to a decrease in oxytocin, as the brain wires itself for bonds to be broken repeatedly.
Hookup culture encourages and even demands that young people not take too seriously the person they happen to be sleeping with this weekend. Gen Z, more than any generation before, feels deep pressure to have many sexual partners and to not settle down with any particular person too quickly. This makes finding a person suitable to have an actual long-term relationship with near impossible.
As hard as it may be, don't cave to the pressure to engage in casual sex. You could be exposing yourself to sexual disease and unplanned pregnancy with someone you barely know. Sex is an intimate act that should be taken very seriously, so express from the get-go to people you’re interested in that you’re not the kind of person who has sex without commitment. It might mean finding a lot of frogs right up front, but you give yourself a better chance at long-term success in marriage later in life.
Social Media Is an Illusion and Damages Real World Connections
Today much of our personal identity is tied up with what we show in our lives on social media. Everyone knows that we all tend to be highly selective about what we decide to reveal to the world about ourselves online, and more importantly, there’s much we omit. There have been many campaigns online which expose the damage done to us by viewing unrealistic portrayals of others and comparing ourselves to another person’s highlight reel.
I would argue, though, that it’s the juxtaposition of what we know our real lives to be with the perfectly curated life we show to the world that does the most internal damage. We see our perfect and filtered life which is celebrated online by others only to have to face the fact at some point that that life isn’t one we’re living. Not only does the illusion of social media make it harder to know others in a sincere way, but it makes it harder to know ourselves.
Gen Z doesn’t know or remember a world before social media. They do understand though, the power and social credit they can achieve by having a large social media following. We experience others initially through the filters and photoshop edits of a flawless profile, meaning we often have an illusion of who people are before really getting to know them. Not only this but we understand that others see our social media persona and expect us to be that. Meaning we’re more inclined to try to live up to what others have seen of us rather than be who we really are.
We see our perfectly curated life celebrated online, only to have to face the fact that that life isn’t one we’re living.
This creates all kinds of roadblocks to building genuine connections between people. Not only is it easier to ghost someone you really only know via social media interaction, but it’s easier to have your time wasted by people who are ultimately fake. A recent study showed that 37% of Gen Z participants felt that the increasingly technological landscape in which they interact with others has impaired their people skills in real life.
With all this in mind, guard yourself against being preyed upon by savvy social media users who put up a good front online but leave much to be desired behind the screen. Be careful to not be lured into the trap of pretending to be someone you aren’t online. Being true to yourself is essential for finding a compatible partner. When we spend more time trying to appear like something we aren’t, rather than developing ourselves into the person we’re meant to be, we make it much harder to find true love.
Men and Women Have Lost Touch with How To Relate to One Another
Dating used to be defined by a set of social codes that were understood by all. They were eloquent in their simplicity and related to the true nature of men and women. In modern times, the rule book has been thrown out, and many men and women no longer define themselves in the traditional sense, according to the masculine and feminine characteristics associated with their sex, further complicating matters.
1 in 6 Gen Z adults now labels themselves LGBT. With the growing popularity of non-binary and gender queer identities, we’re truly in uncharted territory in terms of what it means to be single and dating in 2021. The more the genders are blurred, combined, and reimagined, the less clear it becomes how people should relate to one another in the context of dating, relationships, family, and love.
The radical changes in feminism since its inception haven't helped either. Feminism no longer champions a call for men and women to be merely treated equally, but more than ever encourages women to act, dress, work, and speak like men. First of all, many women don’t want to be treated the same as men — they want to be treated like women, with delicacy and dignity. Secondly, not only does the masculinization of feminist women makes them less attractive to a large portion of men, it makes indoctrinated effeminate men less attractive to women.
Despite decades of feminist programming from pop-culture and even undergraduate degrees in women’s studies, many feminists still find themselves most sexually attracted to men they also consider “sexist.” While on the surface this may seem confusing, it actually reveals something about our nature as women that few feminists want to admit. We love strong, masculine men. Maybe most especially the “problematic” ones.
Women don’t want to be doted on by a doughy, stuttering male feminist. Women want to feel secure, protected, and provided for by a man in charge of his own destiny. Only a very few women will ever feel fully fulfilled and satisfied in a relationship where they wear the pants. This phenomenon leads me to believe that the old ways of doing things are not as outdated as they would seem. That the traditional roles of men and women were not wholly forced upon us by a rigid and patriarchal society, but that they came from within us. These roles spoke to our innate natures, evolutionary biology, and the spontaneous harmony that emerges between masculine men and feminine women.
All these things considered, my advice to navigate the complex, and at times treacherous, world of dating is as follows: Don’t fall prey to hookup culture. Date to marry. Be real with others about who you are. And don’t get sucked into the circus of modern dating guided by genderless, anything-goes feminist demagoguery.
Perhaps doing things exactly the way our grandparents did is unrealistic in modern times, as we’re not the people they were. But we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Believe you can still find love today! Just know it will take following our own internal compass rather than caving to the whims of a directionless and ideologically faulty culture.
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