Impulsive behavior seems to have taken over our lives, and everything is about the "here and now." I know I'm a very impulsive person, and that has led me to make some very poor choices over the course of my life, particularly when it comes to dating and sex.
People who are impulsive typically don't like waiting, so they choose immediate rewards and “feel good” activities. But, they regret this later. Patient people, on the other hand, see their rewards as coming later because “good things come to those who wait.”
According to research, “For impulsive individuals who repeatedly make decisions that satisfy their current desires at the expense of their future needs, the negative effects on their health can be significant.” That's very true.
Personally, being impulsive has hurt me significantly. I need to “feel good now,” and I say I will deal with the consequences later. That's where the problem lies.
I have learned the error of my ways, but I have noticed — through my work with single people and my own dating experience — that people generally dislike waiting for the good thing. Mr. Right Now seems more interesting than Mr. Right. That is why — for me and for countless others — dating in the age of instant gratification is quite difficult.
Why It Never Lasts: The Truth About Instant Gratification And Dating
We want it all, and we want it now. Why not? We deserve it, don't we?
We shouldn't have to work hard for it. It should just come to us. It's our right.
Besides, if I don't get what I want from one person, someone else will give it to me. Then, on to the next, right?
Wrong. According to some scholars, instant gratification is one of the things that keeps us from long-term fulfillment. By wanting to satisfy our urges immediately, we lose the things we hope to achieve in the long run.
We are being reactive (rather than proactive) with our lives and decisions. Essentially, “The only problem with instant gratification is that in the end, it doesn't give us what we really want, and in most cases, it actually keeps us from deeper longings we wish to fulfill.” Story of my life.
In my effort to not care, just be happy and do what I want, I ended up exactly where I didn't want to be. Mind you, I've learned so much in the process.
But did my impulsiveness and desire for instant gratification do more harm than good? Well, I think that it did.
There is currently a false sense that we have endless options and choices when it comes to online dating. However, this also translates to actual dates.
Having sex and hooking up early on in dating has become commonplace, and these people often think it doesn't have an impact. They believe it won't affect them negatively in any way.
They're sexually aroused at that moment in time, and the person they are with is irresistible. So, they figure, "Why the hell not?" What do they have to lose? Well, chances are, they lost their chance at a relationship with that person.
We've all been there, perhaps more times than we'd like to admit. When you are recently single (and especially if you don't really care), you don't want a relationship with anyone. You just want to be wild and free.
But as a result, you could end up in an emotionally draining place. Personally, I once ended up in a multi-year love affair with the wrong person. He did nothing but love and hurt me at the same time. (What do they call it? La douleur exquise: the heart-wrenching pain of wanting the affection of someone unattainable.)
Even if you have this person's affection and love, you don't have him or her. Talk about draining.
I often wonder, "If I wasn't so impulsive and looking for instant emotional and physical gratification when I met him, would I have still connected with him on all those levels?" I guess I'll never know.
“What's In It For Me?” Dating
Everyone wants to be happy and feel good about him- or herself. I get that, but it's all about ego.
Instant gratification is all about ego. It's all about the moment.
Dating in the age of instant gratification is the same. In order to combat loneliness, we go out with whomever asks us out. We have sex with whomever we want, whenever we want.
We use people because they meet our immediate needs. But, we give no thought to the impact we're having on them and their lives.
Dating in the age of instant gratification is all about selfishness. It's all about, “What's in it for me?”
If I don't get what I want, then I'm on to the next. Why give someone a chance if I don't feel it?
Don't get me wrong; I'm certainly guilty of this. I want the long-term rewards. But I want them now, and I want them with the person I want. If someone doesn't fit into the mold I want him or her to fit in, I'm on to the next.
But, I've realized how wrong I've been. I've changed significantly, and I've been rewarded with great people in my life. Live and learn, right?
From Reactive To Proactive Dating
When you sacrifice instant gratification, you get so much more in return: You get your long-term goals. How?
You start dating thoughtfully. You put some actual thought into your dating process, what you're doing and whom you're doing it with. But, be aware that there is a danger of putting too much thought into it.
Don't be reactive or impulsive, either. Take the middle path. For example, just because someone didn't return your message right away, that doesn't mean he or she never will.
A reactive response would be to keep messaging him or her until he or she finally answers. By this time, you've probably lost him or her. A proactive response would be to wait until he or she returns your message.
If this doesn't happen at all, you can try once more casually. Then, let it go and move on.
Do you get what I mean? The same goes for sex.
Unless you're only looking for a casual sexual encounter, keep it in your pants until you know this person's true intentions. Get to know him or her before getting intimate because all those sexy hormones could cloud your judgment, leading you to miss some significant red flags.
Remember: Safe sex is physical, mental and emotional. Don't do anything without being fully aware of the consequences.
Impulsive dating and sex — or dating in the age of instant gratification — can have lasting negative effects on you. So, be smart about the choices you make. In the meantime, enjoy the dating process and have fun with it.
Readers, what do you think? Do you agree that dating in the age of instant gratification is hurting our chances at love? I would love to hear about it in the comments.