My longest relationship lasted five years. Half a decade. That's a solid chunk of time any way you look at it, and though the relationship ultimately didn't work out, I can honestly say we went in with grit and determination. We worked through problems and didn't give up until it was absolutely necessary.
But the mini relationships I've had since then? They typically last about three weeks before the wheels start to fall off. I realize I'm not that into it or something else goes wrong. While my non-single friends are always thoroughly entertained by my dating horror stories, the reality of what it's like to be single in 2015 can actually be sort of depressing to think about.
For a while I assumed I was just picking the wrong people to go out with, which is definitely part of it, but then I realized the issue is bigger than that. Somewhere along the way, I've picked up an "on to the next one" attitude. I'm not proud of this and it's something I'm working on, but I've realized I'm not the only one who's like this. When I talk to other single people, there's a blasé feeling about dating. If this one doesn't work out, surely someone else is just around the corner, right? How could this not be the case, with Tinder, OkCupid, Match, and others so readily available?
But while "On to the Next One" is a great song by Jay-Z (or Mr. Beyoncé Knowles, if you prefer) it's not a great way to approach dating. Because when your kneejerk reaction is to move on at the first sign of rockiness, you can miss out on connecting with a solid match just because you weren't willing to put in the work.
Somewhere along the way we've forgotten that building a connection with someone actually does require effort. There are growing pains. Instead, we want ready-made relationships. Just add water. We've lost interest in learning how the other person thinks and communicates. We're not really that into accepting someone else's quirks, though we expect them to embrace ours. And maybe in the back of our minds there's that thought that another potential match will be better, flaw-free even.
Here's the other problem: when you first start dating someone new, it's easy to think you know what they're all about. After all, you've exchanged roughly 14,000 text messages, 2,000 Snapchats, and have liked each other's posts on Instagram many times. This is in addition to the three or four actual dates you've been on. Of course you know them!
Social media and texting give you a false sense of intimacy. They make communication surface-y and too easy. Then, when an issue does pop up, you're unpleasantly surprised and tempted to say, "I'm done. I'll just hop online and find someone new."
If this mentality had existed when I started dating my last boyfriend, we would have broken up after just a matter of months. But back then dating apps weren't a thing, so I didn't know that it's become acceptable to want a relationship without having to put in any work. Without having to have hard or awkward or deep conversations while looking another person in the eye as you do it.
No, you shouldn't waste your time on someone who's clearly a bad fit. If you're not genuinely excited to spend time with that person, cut your losses and find someone you click with better. But if you've just started seeing someone and things are going pretty well, don't let a little bump in the road derail the whole thing. Take some time to actually talk to the other person, and I mean face-to-face, no emojis allowed. Let them know what you need. Because as much as it feels like you totally get each other, long-lasting relationships have to go deeper than swapping Facebook likes and texting all day.