I feel as if for many, the idea that the type of love we witness on the silver screen is just that, an idea - a figment of our collective imaginations, a dream too lucrative to be reality. The idea that someone could be so truly enthralled that they write us a collection of letters like Daniel to Holly, climb a fire escape like Edward confessing his love for Viv or could recite our love story from a notebook to immortalise its beauty like Noah does for Allie, is beyond absurd. For most of our generation, this fairy tale does not exist.
The reality of dating as a 20-something in today’s society is a much more bleak: friends with benefits, tinder, and the almighty (and unanimously hated) situationships. If you hadn’t got the gist yet, I’m not in my ‘lover-girl era’. Recently, the joys of dating hit me hard and a breakup (that apparently wasn’t a breakup) had me feeling as if the world was going to end – dramatic I know. But after the tears, and the anger, and the tears again, it had me thinking about how ridiculous my situation had been and how ridiculous it was that so many people had the exact same story as me.
To set the scene, the usual on again off again dynamic finally turned ‘serious’. The no label conversation was had to begin with but after about a month and a half, I wanted some clarity on where this relationship was heading. That’s where I was met with the classic line: “I really like you but I’m just not ready for a relationship”. I had been in a situationship. Like every other girl I knew, I had fallen for the man telling me he liked me and wanted to date me, who was then surprised that I thought he liked me and wanted to date me. Crazy, right?
Everyone I spoke to nodded and shared their experience, or their friends experience, which sounded identical to mine, and it was at this point I realised how warped our perception of dating and romance has become. Why have we normalised experiencing the perks of dating without the responsibility, and validated it by giving it a label? Why have we accepted 50% effort and endured it? Just because ‘everyone has had a situationship’? I needed to know at what point we stopped expecting the flowers and love notes and started anticipating the daily red snap and begging for the bare minimum.
The most obvious thing to blame was the rise of dating apps. In my immediate circle, I don’t know many who haven’t at least explored their prospects on the likes of Tinder or Hinge, I myself am guilty. But has this new way of meeting a potential match hindered our ability to make meaningful connections? I think the knowledge that there are endless opportunities to find someone new with just a single swipe have created a generation of nonchalant daters who are careless with maintaining our connections because we know there are plenty of fish in the sea. I once read an article stating that we as a species were never intended to know that so many other people were out there and so by broadening the dating pool it makes young adults inherently afraid of commitment; because what if this one person is not the best selection out of the thousands of faces available through dating apps and social media? The constant exposure to this new ‘fast’dating takes away the excitement of courting and chasing seen in past generations. The ability to hide behind a screen removes the need to go out of your way to pursue someone in person. Instead, you can casually send a text or a snap, never really having to consider whether your interest has any real weight to it.In turn, this partial interest is perceived by us gullible romantics as a romantic endeavour. And so, we result in our beloved situationship.
I understand that this is a truly cynical view of the world coming from a place of heartbreak and embarrassment. Deep down I know that the love seen in movies does exist and can still happen.
Some may think that is the hopeless romantic in me, but in today’s dating climate I must cling to that belief. But to coincide with this, I do believe our generation has become so reliant on technology in forming connections that we forget that most of the best relationships we see were formed through genuine human interaction. There seems to be such a stigma or fear now surrounding meeting someone in real life that, for me, such meet cutes are basically unheard of. Furthermore, our relationship criteria have been diluted and our expectations so lowered that we now view the bare minimum (a text back, dates, compliments) as the fundamentals of a good relationship. Expecting an ounce more leaves us only with fear of commitment and a rejection of labels. In my opinion, situationships are the most outlandish dating relationships we have ever created. This preposterous way of dating has created a society which is far too happy to settle for convenience than to search for the true love we see on the screen, and it is not a society I live in happily.
Words: Ellie Thistlewaite
Image credit: Ellie Thistlewaite