What Modern Dating Can Learn from the Past (Dear Wednesday)

I've been on a mini hiatus from blogging for several reasons: 1. Due to the overwhelm and exhaustion stemming from the pandemic and the senseless murders of Black people in this country. 2. Due to my own need to write most consistently on my Instagram page for June (this is my birthday month) . 3. Boundary setting in a real thing. You should try it sometime soon. I came back with this piece due to our podcast and also due to my own experiences.

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I always wanted to get married, even if I said otherwise (several times over). I never wanted to date. I was never interested in "seeing what's out there" or "testing the waters". That seemed a waste of time to me, even in my 20s when I dated more often. I wasn't interested in getting dolled up to sit at Red Lobster for the Cheddar Bay biscuits or acting like I was overly interested in something that I obviously was not. I was a great actress though. I won't give away all of my secrets, but I had several guys fooled well (in too many areas to name). I wasn't interested in clubbing or in barhopping. Being fixed up on a blind date never suited me, though I was excellent in connecting others. And, frankly, the cycles of text-talk-chat-video-text-meme-text-select-delete were exhausting with men, not to mention the ghosting and plain defensiveness plus having to ego stroke made me wanna puke honestly. Like literally throw up. I was beyond disgusted with dead-end, brokeback, foolishness-personified dating.

Maybe I was born in the right body, wrong time. But frankly, if I were born in any other time than this, I wouldn't have nearly the rights I do right now (and even then... #blacklivesmatter and I'm wondering how far we have come).

However getting married and starting a family was always something graceful in my book. It seems silly to say this now in the age of polyamory and cohabitation, coparenting and non-monogamy. But where did we go wrong? How did what was once an endeavor of the most sacred kind become a declining statistic? Seems we're moving in a direction that looks more like Sodom and Gomorrah -- a free for all, no civility, lack of decent morals, and just plain filth and garbage. Conversations start with "what are you wearing" instead of "what did you do today". Texts are filled with peaches and eggplant smut, airbrushed pics with too much skin and hedonism reigns (look it up).

Just when Coronavirus swept the country and slowed everyone down, the dating world never really changed. When loneliness hit like a flood, the lonely took to apps for boredom begging for a Corona-buddy, and cuffing season returned. People seemed to scour and troll the online world looking for anything and everything to fuel their fantasies.

Is anyone else NOT OK with this chain of affairs (and you can take that statement literally too)?

Is anyone else out there wondering what happened to decency and civility, conversation and charm (not the narcissistic kind)?

Modern dating is a pool of "I don't know", "maybe", "I'm not ready to be tied down", "find someone better than me", "meet me at 6", "hookups only", "my ex cheated and lied", "I don't trust anyone", and "when you coming over".... That's our reality.

We can learn from the dating of past generations. We must take some knowledge from the past. Let me state my case.

Exhibit A. The divorce rate. Past generations did not have as high a divorce rate. People knew that when they reached a certain age and maturity, marriage was expected. There may have been some cheaters and liars in the bunch, but people believed in staying together to make relationships work. I mean sometimes you just gotta work things out, even if you consciously uncouple as Gweneth Paltrow said, and then consciously couple again as some couples (not Gweneth) have done. The older generation knew the subtle art of not giving a f*** before it was popular. Perhaps they just used the philosophy differently. They knew that to care about and obsess over everything took away from connection. They had a hot toddy and went to bed. They didn't sit up on Facebook (because it didn't exist) listening to a relationship guru spouting garbage. Sometimes you gotta know when to hold em and when to fold them. Somebody had to compromise, and many learned how then. Today, we easily accept that things aren't working and start drafting legal documents.

Exhibit B. Courtship. If courtship is a foreign term to you, look it up. Men would prepare for a nice night out on the town with a lady. Back in the day, a man would come in and sit on the couch and simply talk without the promise of anything sexual. Flowers were brought as a symbol of "thanks for accepting the date" and there was no discussion of going dutch. Ladies, you shouldn't even bring up who is paying for the meal. The check should be the furthest thought from your mind when courting (just make sure you have enough to cover the meal just in case). Courtship was a time of getting to know you, not a time of playing beneath the covers. Sex was sacred. Maybe everyone wasn't waiting to have sex, but they certainly were not vying for the title of one-hit wonder either. Ever wonder why women AND men liked "The Notebook"?

Exhibit C. Couples in the past planned their lives together. They shared hopes and dreams. They invested in a team mentality. Sacrifices were made for the good of the couple and family. People back then understood that a "me mentality" will get you left like Scarlett O'Hara...gone with the wind. Now, we live in a I, Me, My society, where sacrifices aren't made unless it's a last resort. I have asked people why they weren't with their exes anymore and it's always coupled with a story about lack of compatibility. No, you saw signs of trouble early on and decided to ignore them. Take some blame.

Exhibit D (and I rest my case). Modern dating can learn that adolescence was never intended to extend past the wonder years (teenage years for those of you who didn't catch that reference). Some men and women are living in an extended adolescence. Literally. They want to be some version of Peter Pan and the plan is for their lovers, partners, hookups, sidepieces to all play along in the fun, flying around forever young. When you are grown, you put away childish things and begin to build. Older generations built. That's what we younger generations have benefitted from. We are able to go on extended vacations because mom and dad or grandma and grandpa invested in timeshares or houses. We are able to have nice things because nice things were passed down. We were able to go home after college because our parent(s) let us in with open arms and didn't necessarily give us a hard deadline to GET OUT. This is why we are living an extended adolescence. We've benefitted from the old school's retirement, and we never felt we had to truly grow up, set and struggle. Granted some of the old generation wanted to ensure we didn't struggle like they did, but we still needed A struggle. Without the struggle, we don't see a reason for a team. We only see ourselves doing whatever, whenever, with whomever, maybe ever forever. That's extended adolescence. It's time for Peter Pan to grow up.

Marriage is sacred and it should be treated as such. It's not something to be worshipped, but rather reverenced with respect. Therefore courtship and dating should be entered into soberly with a sound mind and healed, whole perspective. This sounds hopelessly old-fashioned to some of you and that's perfectly fine. Sooner or later you too will get tired of the empty promises of modern dating. You'll get sick of swiping left and right hoping for a crumb of conversation. You will desire more and you'll wake up one day and realize you're middle aged and searching for love realizing that you passed by love many times in the name of "i'm not ready" or "what one won't do, another will". You don't have all the time in the world (don't believe the lie that you're timeless).

What you have is today, and today you can learn the lessons so you can implement them and change. Or stay the same and risk missing the opportunity to build a legacy with a partner who is ready in good times and bad.

I hope you make the best choice... I know I am definitely jumping in.

This Dear Wednesday Letter was hand-crafted by Dr. Joy. Dr. Joy Well, mental health clinician, confidence catalyst, professor, self-sabotage solutionist and avid researcher is one of the quintessential experts on the connection between the mind, body, and immune system. Her doctoral work explored the experiences of women of color living with autoimmune diseases and how they function and experience the medical community and beyond. Once a shy, small-town girl with big dreams, Joy has found peace and purpose working with women of all ages to develop a fierce, faith-filled identity, personally and professionally. She is a clinician and entrepreneur in mental health private practice, seeing all ages, backgrounds, and genders. In her spare time, she enjoys music, movies, writing, and getting into mischief with friends. You can find Dr. Joy on social media @captivatingjoy, @confidentsoil, and on the best podcast on the planet, Challenge Yo Self, available now on all podcast platforms.

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