12 years ago, I was a writer for a blog that talked about the trials and tribulations of dating, sex and relationships. Here's a reminder that all people who make themselves into someone they're proud of, start somewhere. Writing this article reminds me of the days when I was living in NYC and would come home from a horrific date and write about it. I can taste the cigarette on my lips, and the smell of a NYC evening summer mist as I write this.
Back then, dating apps included Tinder, JDate, EHarmony, and Match. People were still working 9-5 jobs, watching Sex and the City as a constant reminder to stay in the game like all other New Yorkers. We were getting drinks post work in hopes of unwinding and in that, wrapping around some stranger at a bar that we hoped could potentially become our person.
It's funny how much things change in such small amounts of time, right? Here we are, a mere 10 years later and we have forgotten to be relational human beings. Clients often ask, "what does it mean to be relational?"
Relational is defined as: concerning the way in which two or more people or things are connected. We've forgotten that it takes relation-ability to get into relationships! As a psychotherapist, I see people daily regarding their stress and concern with the current dating culture in today's world. One of the things they complain about is how inauthentic dating is these days.
People are seeking instant connection via text, without ever following up. People go out and then ghost without any respect for someone else's feelings or experience. Solely worrying about their own, or the fear of rejection, we would rather not respond to someone else, another human, than simply be one too. Think about that for a moment.
It's actually scary, right?
When did dating become so inhuman? The lack of relational ability amongst people these days has left me thinking that we're not just inhuman, but we're forgetting what a relationship is at all. No wonder so many people aren't getting into relationships, we don't even know what it takes to achieve one. The real inspiration for this post came from my logging into my LinkedIn tonight.
I saw an unread message by a man asking me to grab a "nightcap" at a hotel that he is visiting for a short stay in NY. Brings me back to my single blogger days, but... I'm sorry, but since when do we use LinkedIn messenger to attempt one night stands with people we're simply not connected to at all? I liken this to the skevey sexual messages people send to other people they've never connected to on a dating app and expect for it to lead to love. If anything it'll lead to random sex, but then again we get to the word relational. Sex can be relational, but it's not the only thing you need to have a relationship. In order to be in a relationship, you must be relational and talk about your needs, what you like, what you don't like, how you like something (whether it's your steak or oral). Truth is, we're not relational and yet so many are so desperate for a relationship!
It's comically preposterous, but thankfully can be fixed.
Did this man think I'd say yes? Perhaps, and in some fantasy world, maybe it'd be a safe space but in case we've forgotten it is 2022, and we're all afraid of the world we're in. I don't think anyone would be dumb enough to meet some "VP at a Finance Job" in NYC for a random nightcap at the Peninsula Hotel. Sure, one can argue that it's just a man hitting on a woman and it's "fair game". However, if we talk about basic relational dynamics, it's not only NOT relational, it's predatorily frightening. If you're interested in a woman, man, person, message them, fine...you can even go ahead and do it through LinkedIn (even though it's considered sketchy and dual purposed without appropriate boundaries) but what about engaging in conversation to see if they're interested in a conversation prior to asking for a nightcap? Is it just me, or doesn't the nightcap happen at the end of the date?
Here's where I understand our lack of relationability. I opened the message and held back from answering this man in fear. Truly fear of what he'd say, which is another reason people ghost. He'd say I was a crazy bitch for assuming that his asking for a nightcap at his hotel was anything more than a business meeting. The nerve, right? But there I was, guilty, too. Fear is a wild feeling that brings us to a place in our minds we don't go often enough and in that space we behave as someone we don't want to be. Thankfully I had the ability to block him from viewing my profile, and report the message as inappropriate. Some may say this was an irrational response, some may even say "you're a crazy bitch" and relationally speaking I say, you're right. I am one smart crazy bitch who loves herself, and her safety, and more than anything my powerful intuition that sees through the gaslit bullshit that exists in the world. Some may not like my candor, but at least I'm relational.