The Millennial Guide to Loneliness and Dating
(Podcast Show Notes)
Hello and welcome to the Dating Smash podcast. My name is Rob and this is the only podcast dedicated to showing you how to create sexy connection by being goddamn authentic. Shout out to Nikolai Heidlass for creating this kick ass intro music. You can find him on free-stock-music.com
Today we're covering the millennial guide to loneliness and dating. Whoa, drama. Alright, so here's the problem. Modern dating is a big fat fail in my book. But why? Why do I say that? I mean, there are obviously plenty of people who seem to love Tinder, Hinge, Bumble, or whatever it is kids these days are using to get laid. And there are presumably families and relationships that do work out ...that start online, right?
But the metric that we're going to be talking about today is loneliness. And why is loneliness so important? Logically, I mean, if people were really getting what they really wanted out of dating, I think it's pretty safe to say that they wouldn't feel alone or crave meaningful connection.
But that's kind of exactly what scientists are finding. On May 1st 2018 CIGNA shows that 46% of Americans suffer from loneliness. That's 4% away from being half of people. Which, for a planet completely populated by humans, is a crazy ass number.
47% of us feel like we don't have daily meaningful face to face interactions. And according to Forbes, loneliness is a modern day epidemic. Now do I think that's buzz wordy and sensationalist? Hell fucking Yeah. But I also think that it gets near the truth. And here's why.
I want to talk about the recent changes to how we communicate. I mean, it wasn't too long ago that it was normal to show up on someone's door and stop by for a chat or just to call them up because you were thinking about them. Right? (And if you are past a certain age threshold, none of that will make sense. But do trust that that used to be part of culture, they would just call each other and they'd pick up and conversations were had.)
It's a bit weird are now getting a call from someone's these days, though, isn't it? It's kind of like, what happened? What's wrong?? What's the emergency. I'd argue that these days, the socially appropriate norm is to text or to message over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LINE, Slack or WhatsApp.
It's not easy to get someone to commit to a call. You can't even get me to check a voicemail these days, even though it takes up literally like 20 seconds of my time. So we've basically switched from voice based communication to text, and we send an average of 8.5 billion texts a day as a nation. And that's just over SMS. So it's not including data-based apps like Facebook.
So according to smartphone data analysis, 85% of our phone time, is dedicated to messaging apps. Like it or not, social media is the new normal for communication. And there are plenty of studies that show that this new trend doesn't actually help us feel connected or loved, no matter how much we use it.
In fact, heavier social media use is linked with depression. So when we replace our primary means of connection with something that's correlated with depression, I don't think it's surprising at all that so many people feel lost and without meaningful connection into their day to day lives.
So the example that springs to mind is my GPS. I love it. I use it literally every day. And because I do, I've completely lost the ability to navigate without it like, like, if I ever lose my phone, I am boned. I won't know where I am or how to get back to where I need to be. And I suspect that we're seeing something very similar happening just with communication.
That is, when I'm taken away from the structure of social media and texting. I will begin to feel a little lost. Like if you throw me into the middle of a holiday party, or you asked me to meet some strangers, it's not going to be comfortable for me, right? That sensation of being dumped into this party without knowing anybody else...
Everyone feels a little bit out of their element in this stage. Why? Because arguably, we've been trained to communicate in a completely different way, this is no longer normal. It's no longer a comfortable thing to meet new people. And I think the exploding number of people suffering from social anxiety disorders is a testament to that. It's an estimated 18% of people.
That's almost one in five, right? And those are the people who are willing to accept the ugly label of being "mentally ill". So odds are that this number is much higher. There are probably a lot of people out there who are suffering from depression and anxiety, silently. So I think it's fair to say that we've lost our way, we don't know how to communicate anymore.
Now, that is a big claim. So I'm going to give you some examples. So, for some people that shows up as having the same fight with their partner, over and over and over again. Never getting to the bottom of conflicts, just distracting and setting them aside until they blow up again. I've been there too, for me, when my partner and I used to fight, I was so busy feeling attacked and being defensive that we never got to the real reason for the fight, right? Instead, we'd have arguments over like boba or coffee, or why we were spending so much time at the mall. Rather than having the conversation of like, "Hey, I don't feel like safe in this relationship. I feel like it's falling apart. And I would love to figure out a way to just improve that, to get out of that space".
This can also show up as bad luck with dating. People always just stop responding to your texts. They're flaking on you. And when you're out on a date, you might feel like you're on trial, or putting on a performance trying to keep the other person from seeing, quote, unquote, what's wrong with you.
Like you can't fully express who you are, because you're worried that people would react poorly.
And for others still, it feels like drifting through life surrounded by people, but feeling absolutely alone, like like a permanent outsider. So for half of Americans who have and are still experiencing these things, the solution is surprisingly straightforward.
First, accept yourself. Yes, this sounds like hippie granola kumbayah. Yeah. But consider this. Rejection of this idea is the very same reason why you and I and others have experienced deep, profound loneliness.
I don't mean looking in the mirror, and in the morning, and go. "I guess I'm all right". Right? That is not accepting yourself. I mean, digging into what you're ashamed about what you hate yourself, for what you hate others for, and finding a way to forgive yourself, and love yourself.
Anyway. Make no mistake, this is straightforward. But it doesn't mean that people don't struggle with it. The minute I stopped judging myself and started expressing what I meant vulnerably instead of trying desperately to avoid stepping on people's toes, or to hide my real feelings, because I was ashamed of them, or afraid of what people might actually think about them, I immediately started getting these crazy, meaningful encounters with total strangers.
So this is my thought. It's not the truth. It's my take on the truth. That feeling of loneliness comes about because we've been trained to hide who we really are. I mean, for me, at least, high school was one big exercise in learning to hide who I really was so that no one would think that I was uncool, or that I didn't fit in. But living life this way also means that many of my relationships were founded on this edited version of me, right?
When new people tried to connect with me, I give them this mask, because it felt safer than being me. But it also meant that I missed out on having people accept me for who I was.
I'm going to repeat that, because that's a big deal. Me hiding who I was, me using that mask, meant that I missed out on the opportunity to have people accept me, for me. And that hurts, right?
That's a rejection in and of itself. Making the change from feeling safe behind our masks to feeling at risk as our true selves takes help. If it were something we could all do alone, I suspect, we'd all be much happier. But change takes commitment. And that's something that we as humans are notoriously bad at. 80% of us fail at New Year's resolutions by February.
And the pattern that I used to fall into all the time is: when I fail, then I quit. I don't know about you, but I used to take my first stumbling blocks as evidence that I just wasn't good enough. I have failed. Therefore I am a failure. I missed yesterday's run. So if I missed today's ...I am already a failure... so it doesn't matter, right? It's fine. I'm not a runner.
Making modern dating and relationships work means being bigger than our excuses, insecurities and beginning to love ourselves.
It means choosing to connect day after day. Even if you're scared as hell. It means that if this stuff seems hard, but you're sick of hiding means going out on a limb and asking for help. Instead of trying to tough it out soldier up or keep up appearances.
It means giving up grinning and bearing it in favor of finally being free. And that's all the time we have for today. My name is Rob and this is episode one of Dating Smash.