Single Life
A couple wonders why dating is so hard for them.
6 Relationship Experts Explain Why Dating Today Is SO Difficult

It’s brutal out here.

by Griffin Wynne and Isabel Calkins
Originally Published: 
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My parents met their junior year of college, in line for a bar called What Ales You? 20-something years later, my older brother met his life partner before he could legally drink. It's safe to say that I grew up assuming falling in love in your late teens was something that happened naturally to your body, like hormonal acne. But as I graduated high school and then college, I wondered, “Where the heck is my star-crossed lover?,” and more importantly, “Why is dating so hard for me?”

As the great Charlotte York once said, "I have been dating since I was 15. I am exhausted. Where is he?" But seriously. What gives? The worst part (or the best part — I am not sure yet) is that I am not alone in thinking dating is hard. According to Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge, “51% of Hinge users tell us they’re experiencing FODA, or Fear of Dating Again. Singles are experiencing fears around their health, their comfort meeting up in crowded places, and their atrophied social skills.” Validating, right?

But like any chatty young person with too much free time and internet access, I reached out to every type of relationship expert I could think of in order to truly understand why dating today just feels so hard. Pausing the Sex and the City episode I was watching (via my ex's HBO account), I asked them about the culprit of today's dating drama. Hookup culture? Addiction to technology? Inability to create real and vulnerable relationships? (Spoiler alert: It's all of the above.)

In hopes of understanding why dating nowadays feels so hard, here's what six relationship experts had to say.

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of The Media
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Our expectations are higher today because we are flooded with images of ‘perfect love’ from TV, films, advertisements, and social media. We expect perfection and, if we don’t find it, we move on quickly. This makes dating harder because it’s common for us to look for what’s wrong with someone, instead of focusing on what’s right. We expect an intense spark to be there from the start. If it’s not, we check out and look for someone else, because we feel it’s easy to meet someone thanks to modern technology.
And having fun has become more and more important in today’s culture. After the initial spark wears off and the routine sets in, we become frustrated, bored, and want to experience the spark again. Many people would rather start fresh than fully dive into the other phases of love. And the ease of finding someone online takes away the perceived risk of ending up alone.

Claudia Cox, relationship coach

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of Dating Apps
In the past we relied on chance meetings, using friends as intermediaries, talking to a person to gain knowledge about them and thus our choices were reduced but the intensity of our connections was greater. Now we have access to anyone in the world — literally. We have computer algorithms that will match us based on stated preferences, we have the ability to make our physical appearance on line look more flattering than our actual appearance and we have all of this at the swipe of a finger. The result is, for many, having to sift through lots and lots of ‘dating data’ to find a good, authentic fit.
Moreover, because we have access to people without having to leave our homes, we have access to communicate our wants and desires without much cost. The result is a much more complex array of dating categories including casual sex and hookups. We simply find another individual via the Internet who wants casual sex and without having to ever leave our homes we can arrange the process. There is very little investment and thus, it happens frequently.

— Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of Hookup Culture
In the not too distant past, obtaining a casual sex partner was a difficult bit of business.
'Hookup culture' has given us mass confusion. It's made it hard to define what we're doing with a person. We find ourselves asking, 'Is this a date?', 'Are we a couple?', 'What are the rules?' 'What are the expectations?' 'Am I one of many?' 'Dare I text them first?' 'Is it OK to let them know I like them?' 'If I express a concern, will they dump me?'
There's no need for a 'committed relationship' if a person is primarily seeking sex. Hookups are effortless, therefore the rigors of being a 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend' have been eliminated.

Susan Winter, NYC-based relationship expert and love coach

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of Technology
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Now we can hide behind our phones and computer screens and totally avoid vulnerability and true intimacy but simply telling ourselves, 'It shouldn't be this hard,’ and then you move on to the next person waiting in the wings.
Like social media, online dating has allowed us to invent the person we would like to be, even if that person is not truly who we are. This is often subconsciously done (I'm not talking about intentional catfishing here). By creating a profile of who you think you are or perhaps wish you were, you are potentially attracting the wrong person and setting yourself up for failure without even intending to.
It has also left us with the impression that if the person in front of us doesn't meet our needs, there are plenty more where they came from and I can just find a new one. Why try so hard? Why push myself to be self aware, vulnerable, scared, compromising? I can order something off of Amazon and get it within 24 to 48 hours, and I can find someone who more perfectly suits my wants and needs.

Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of Ambiguity
Before, relationships were relatively black or white — either you’re together, or you’re not. Today, there are multiple shades of gray that exist, and as long as both parties are aware and agree, who is anyone to dispute that? Relationships today can look however they want and the ability to have sexual relationships outside of monogamy has accelerated that idea.
The amount of content we have accessible to us due to the internet gives us many more options to 'distract' ourselves from creating in-person connections, because there’s a false sense of connection created by liking or commenting on posts on social media and other platforms.

Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman

Dating Is So Hard Today Because Of Fear
Dating has always been an anxiety-provoking experience, but a year and half into the pandemic, it’s normal that many people are feeling more anxious than usual. So normal, that we even coined a name for it: FODA, or the Fear of Dating Again.
Here’s how to overcome FODA: First of all, understand that it’s normal to feel nervous on a date. It’s likely the other person is feeling the same way. You can break the ice by mentioning that you feel a bit out of practice. This confession will help you relax, and may even create a point of connection if your date expresses feeling the same nerves. I also recommend focusing on the other person by asking thoughtful questions and follow-ups. That’s one of the best ways to relax and get out of your own head!
Finally, take your time, getting to know someone. Many of the best connections come from the slow burn, not instant chemistry or fireworks.

Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge

From hiding behind phones to feeling overwhelmed with choices, there are a ton of reasons dating is so hard today. I've found that it can be helpful to try to see every happy couple as proof that you can (and will) find love, too, instead of comparing yourself to your friends in happy relationships. At the end of the day, while modern dating may be hard, you can sleep easy knowing that so many others are navigating this bizarre sea of love, together.


Logan Ury, Director of Relationship Science at Hinge

Claudia Cox, relationship coach

Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show

Susan Winter, relationship expert and love coach

Nicole Richardson, licensed marriage and family therapist

Thomas Edwards Jr., founder of The Professional Wingman

Editor's Note: This story has been updated by Elite Daily Staff.

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