A Beginner’s Guide to Modern Dating: Part One


Just like so much of what I write on The Twenties Club, this article is not what I had originally planned.

A reader had sent in a message voicing his frustration with the modern dating scene. A scene that has far too many inconsistencies while simultaneously containing so many rules, and even more exceptions to those rules. He wanted a blog post dedicated to the unwritten and rarely discussed guidelines for navigating the millennial dating scene. YES!! What an idea. So I put the word out to The People (that’s you), expecting to be flooded with all kinds of insight, knowledge, and ingenious tips and tricks of the trade.

What I was not anticipating (stupidly), was to be mostly flooded with confusion. With questions. And, in a lot of cases, sheer desperation.

Sure there was some stellar advice, which I’ll unpack in Part Two. But as it turns out, we have a few universal concerns. Like Briar, who asked “Why do guys message us on Snapchat? Who told them this was a good idea? If you have my number, text me!!!! Can someone give me a breakdown of what conversations on each medium mean?”

Or Jordanne who said she “NEVER knows how goddamn available to be. In an age where I can be connected to six different platforms at any given time, it’s almost impossible to maintain an element of aloofness. How soon is too soon to reply to a message? When does it stop being polite and start looking needy? And do you want a DM, Snapchat, text, email or pigeon carrier??”

It’s not our fault, by the way.

The problem is that the millennial dating scene is constantly evolving. It’s like having a newborn. As soon as you think you have the baby figured out; when it sleeps, when it poops, what it’s seven different cries mean, the baby changes and you have to figure it out all over again. Esther Perel, world famous relationship therapist and author, believes that our generation has a very specific set of problems (hah mood). We live in a world where, due to technology and social media, there is a heightened sense of individualism. Therefore our generation often looks to our romantic relationships to provide the emotional and physical resources that a community or village would have historically provided. We look to our partners for identity and self-worth – two things that we should never ask another person to provide. Perel also suggests that our generation is notorious for falling into the “Is there somebody better?” trap. That whole grass-is-greener debacle.

But what use is this insight if we don’t know how the hell to change it?

I don’t know. I’m sorry, I don’t. But I do know two things: firstly, what you resist persists. If you refuse to acknowledge your shortcomings in romantic relationships, you will cease to change them. Acknowledge the role you play when things fall apart. Times where you didn’t meet the other person half way. When you didn’t compromise. When you weren’t practicing crystal clear communication. And the second thing I know is that knowledge is power. Ask yourself: Am I angry because I can see he’s on Facebook and yet hasn’t replied to my text message, or am I angry because I’m relying on that message to validate my self-worth, to affirm that I’m worth replying to, rather than validating that narcissism on my own?

The answer to that question, and other pearls of wisdom direct from TTC readers will be in Part Two.

See you soon.

Header image by Wono Kim for The Twenties Club