Popular Culture, Dating and Love
As if it was not difficult enough to find true and lasting love, modern popular changes in our society have complicated it much more. The sexual revolution and permissiveness have opened the doors for ‘game playing’. A good number of people date frequently in order to find love, but end up feeling heart broken and at times, hood-winked. Physical intimacy has lost its “luster” so to speak. It is no longer as meaningful or valued as it used to be. Anymore, it seems as though people go out on dates, get drunk, become intimate, and they break up when they get bored or tired.
To make things worse, people seem to date almost mindlessly. For example, they date whoever is around, available, willing and seem to have good pick-up lines. I may be in the minority, but I truly believe that the popular dating model is not a recipe for finding true love.
Many people, it seems, are not interested in finding true love, but more interested in “plowing the field”. I am certainly not placing any value judgement on these people, but it’s definitely a matter of personal choice. I do know, however, from my professional and social life, that playing the number game never gives a person the type of sublime feeling that finding a true love can.
Just the other day, one of my co-workers was talking about buying a car. I overheard the conversation. She had a list of features she wanted in this new car: automatic gear, power windows, sunroof, leather seats, navigation system, etc. Then she wanted “Carfax”, a computer generated report that gives us the whole history of the car, such as the list of all the owners, accidents, repairs, etc. Listening to her conversation, I was thinking, boy she’s pretty smart and she knows what she wants. And she know how to get what she wants, too.
Since I began writing this article, I have been thinking about that conversation. I asked myself, how many people I know have the same approach when it comes to dating? To my disappointment, I couldn’t come up with more than a couple. It felt rather scary that people may have a more methodological approach to buying a car, than finding that special partner for life. I drive a lot and I will tell you, having a car that is reliable, safe, and has all the features I love is very important. However, finding that special person in your life is infinitely more important than finding your ideal car because the former affects your life in the most profound manner. So, if you want to be truly happy and fulfilled in your life, you need to pay much more attention to how and whom you date. Your approach should be methodical and not mindless; thoughtful and not thoughtless; measured and not haphazard. And yes, I know people are not the same as cars because people can talk and have opinions, whereas cars don’t and cannot say no to you. But once again, it is all about your approach to the process. You may not get the man or woman you want, but your efforts should be directed at the right people.
Men vs. Women
It is generally agreed that the two sexes approach love and relationships rather differently. Of course, there are always some exceptions. Whether you are a man or woman, it is very critical for you to understand these differences in order to pursue true love. For example, men are more likely to focus on the external appearance, while women are more likely to focus on internal qualities. Men are more likely to fear commitment while women are more likely to want it. Men are more likely to view physical intimacy as a ‘conquest’, while women are more likely to view it as a symbol of closeness. Men are more likely to use “I love you" more lightly than women do. Men are more likely to get out of relationship if their partner becomes less attractive than women are. Men are more likely to have multiple dates or sex partners than women are. Men are less likely to engage in conversations about emotionally laden topics than women are. In other words, men are more reluctant to express their emotions than women are.
As you can see, there are many pitfalls on the road to find true and lasting love. If we understand them well, and are prepared to avoid them, then we are most likely to succeed.
The purpose of this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical or psychiatric issue. Dr. Rakesh Ranjan is a practicing psychiatrist and a researcher. He is a recipient of several research awards and has authored several peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapter on psychiatric illnesses and their treatments. He is a national speaker for several organizations and serves on the medical advisory board for NAMI for Greater Cleveland. If you or a loved one is experiencing any symptoms that would lead you to believe that there could be a mental imbalance, please email your questions to Dr. Ranjan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each Wednesday, Dr. Ranjan will address some of these questions in this column. All contact info will be kept confidential.