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Love and relationships are difficult as it is, but in today’s modern world where traditional values are replaced by new ideas and technologies are becoming an integral part of everyday lives, it might be even more difficult to find something meaningful.
“I am independent” or the ME ME ME Syndrom
Do not get me wrong, I am all about having security and having an action plan for any situation. I also think that it is good to focus on yourself, to have your own interests, hobbies, even to sometimes disappear for a while and just be by yourself. However, I feel like there is this agenda, where people are urged to believe that they do not need anybody, that they should be strong, they should be independent and they should not rely on others. And although, there are examples of individuals that can exist on their own and do not need social contact, most of us do. I refuse to believe that the majority of people in today’s world have been so strongly affected by these progressive ideas that they do not need any social interactions and can turn their back to centuries of evolutionary reality.
As Aristotel once said: “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.”
And if you do not believe mere words, then let me give me you some science. One of the most fascinating studies I have encountered is the longest research devoted on the topic of what makes people happy. The 75 yearlong study on adult development shows that embracing community not only makes us live longer, but it also makes us happier. If you are interested in finding more about the study check out this video. Yes, be independent, follow your dreams, but don’t turn into a selfish lonely person, who only thinks through the prism of what is good for them. After all, shared happiness means more happiness.
Paradox of Choice
Oh, social media and new technologies. How many opportunities they have given us: to connect, to share, to inspire, to meet other like-minded people, to find love? For the first time in my life I downloaded a dating app last year around this time. I had never used one before and it was a new and bizarre concept. It was not long before I started matching with people, all of the sudden I felt overwhelmed. What was I doing? Did I really think that I will meet somebody special on an app that is associated with random ‘hook ups’? All these thoughts came flushing to my mind and I deleted it.
Not long after (a day or two) I decided to give it a second try. I downloaded it again and started swiping left and right through a sea of potential bachelors. I did engage in conversations with some of the guys, but to the most part I was just swiping my way through the app. It was like a very addictive game: Let’s see what kind of guys are in this city, let’s see how many I will match, let’s see if I will come across somebody I know. And the prize of this game was to get a short hit of dopamine when I match with a cute guy that I thought I have no chance with. And despite knowing that it’s fairly easy for girls to get matches, it still does give you a little confidence boost. Minimal effort and a temporarily satisfaction as a result. However, after a while I realized that even though I had many more choices than I would probably have in a real life situation, I was overwhelmed and I was not deciding on any guy. Actually, I don’t even think that I was giving most guys a chance. If they did not grab my attention in the first few minutes of our conversation or I was not interested in chatting at this particular moment, I would just leave the conversation. And other times I would be the one left hanging.
Because of dating apps and all of these attractive people of social media we are somehow led to believe that we have so many possibilities to find another person and another one, and another one (DJ Khaled vibes). And at some point we maybe stop giving people the chance they deserve, because they did not reply the way we imagined it or they said a stupid joke or we matched with somebody, who is much more attractive. We rarely give people a real chance and in our overwhelming search for the one, we end up not choosing. If you think that I am making this up, you don’t know me, because I have the science to back it up: “Science now tells us that if you put 24 jams instead of 6 jams for people to sample at the supermarket, people will buy less jam. The presentation of too many jams may lead people to believe that somewhere, out there, exists the perfect jam. If only…” (Adapted from Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice)…if only.
Emotionally Immature and The Peter Pan Syndrome
It sounds a little harsh, but let me tell you the science behind it (Maybe I should turn this blogpost into a PhD). According to research, adulthood nowadays comes later and one can speak of a prolonged/extended adolescence, where 25-26 is the new 18, predominantly in Western societies. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it gives young people more time to figure out what they want from life, to mature on their own, to test their capacities. However, it does become an issue when you morph into a modern-day Peter Pan. It can be perceived as a problem when you become older and yet continue to live in your fantasy world where you avoid real responsibilities and never mature on an emotional level. Like children we want to try a bit of everything. We want the good parts and neglect the bad ones. Often times we think we are entitled to happiness, without having to work for it. However, adulthood is not easy. Life is not easy. And maybe that’s what is fun about it. It is a challenge. You have to work for the things that you want and at some point you have to grow up, learn how to deal with your emotions and take responsibilities for your actions.
Spoiler alert: If you have not read Peter Pan or watched the Disney adaptation, let me spoil the ending. All kids leave Neverland and return to the real world, except Peter Pan, who refuses to grow up and is left behind. He remains alone.
Yes, keep a bit of innocence, some child naivety and a bunch of silliness in yourself, but be open to change. The sooner you accept that you have the grow up and embrace every new part of your life with positivity and hopefulness, the happier you might be. After all, you can live in denial only for so long.
Too many expectations little to give
This does not necessarily apply to everybody, but most of us have probably been in this situation, consciously or not. And my guess is that it might be due to the rise of social media platforms (there is probably also a scientific research, but I don’t want to bore you).
There is nothing wrong with having preferences, expectations and high standards. If you like a certain type of person go for it, if you can absolutely not tolerate some qualities then do not put up with them. However, often times, we as people, are much more demanding of others than we are critical towards ourselves. We have so many criteria about the perfect person, what they should look like, how they should talk, what type of cologne they should use, what they should be willing to do for us etc. And having high standards is great, knowing what you want – even better. But what are you willing to give in return? Unfortunately, we often expect more than we are willing to give. So many people want the perfect partner and the foolproof fairytale life that is also Instagrammable. But relationships (no matter if romantic or not) take time and patience. It’s a two-way street, where you cannot just be on the receiving end, but it is also not okay if you are the only one investing. What if perfect is not what we deserve…or need.
Or maybe we are just unlucky that at the most “social” and interconnected stage our world has ever been in we have forgotten how to communicate. Despite this, I hope that one day you are lucky enough to find what you are looking for…or maybe you won’t and you will come across something much greater.