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Dating In The Dark Side

Throughout my college years, I have typically been the staple, single friend. I've watched my friends enter and exit relationships, all the while "talking" to people, but never being in a serious relationship myself. While I have valid reasons I tell myself about why I don't need a relationship, such as lack of time or not wanting anyone holding me down post grad, there's other darker and potentially dangerous situations keeping me out of or from seeking a relationship. Below are five commonalities either I or my friends have experienced in modern day dating that would give most people a reason to hesitate when looking for a relationship.

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1. The Risk of Online Dating

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I'm not ashamed to admit that I've tested my luck using online dating websites such as Tinder and Bumble.Sometimes it's easier to meet romantic partners online than it is during everyday interactions. While online dating can expand your pool of potential partners and allows you to answer message at your leisure, there's negatives to taking to online dating such as lying in dating profiles, catfishing, shorter relationships and seeking partners based on appearances (Anderson, 2016). While these are obvious cons to online dating, there lies some darker and dangerous cons. As you get to know someone, you disclose information about yourself that can be used to harm you, otherwise known as access to weaponry. In addition, it's easy for one to create an image of them self online that does not align with who they are as a person. Upon meeting that person and experiencing face to face communication, you may learn info about your potential partner that was unanticipated and undesirable, known as misplaced expectations and unwelcome surprises (Class Notes, Dark Side Criteria, 1/22/18).

Source: http://bit.ly/2iR1dMH

2. Ghosting is Too Real

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The older I get, the more afraid I am of being ghosted than being visited by an actual ghost (don't take this as I'm not afraid of ghosts because I totally am, but my fear of abandonment is stronger). Essentially, ghosting is when someone exits a relationship without any explanation. The relationship can be anything from a few days old to a relationship that's been stable for years. Ghosting has become more prominent with the advance of technology. Say you meet someone on Tinder, exchange numbers, go on a few dates, and then you stop hearing from the person. Despite your angry text messages demanding an answer as to why they deleted you on social media and have been ignoring your texts and calls, the person just chooses not to answer you. Why do people ghost? Simply put, to avoid the awkwardness of ending things face to face. This is especially true of an online relationship as there is significantly less social connections. Ghosting is particularly hurtful because is leaves the person being ghosted feeling disposable, used and betrayed (Vilhauer, 2015).

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3. Ambiguous Text Messages

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I know I've been there, pining over a text message from a boy with all my friends as we tried to figure out the perfect response to his message. Something so witty and well thought out that it would warrant a just as great reply. However, that never seems to be the case and someone always seems to be more interested and authentic through texting. According to the Four perceptions of Aversiveness, one of the questions to ask when determining if a behavior is dark is asking if the behavior is ambiguous (Class Notes, Dark Side Criteria, 1/22/18). Receiving a short text message, especially with no punctuation or emoji's, often leaves the receiver wondering if they said something wrong and if the sender is upset with them.While senders believe they are communicating their message appropriately, receivers often have a hard time picking up on the intended emotion (Jaffe, 2014). Though sometimes the sender does not mean to be ambiguous, that may be how the receiver perceives it, hence putting a strain on the relationship.

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4. Reality is an Illusion

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Take it from Gaga, sometimes it's not love, but a perfect illusion. It's easy to influence how people see you, but even easier to believe the illusion people portray themselves to be. We construct these "pleasant fictions" or idealized images about our partners. However as the relationship develops and ages, these images are adversely impacted (Class Notes, Dark Side Criteria, 1/22/18). However, by beginning a relationship by being honest about yourself, you will experience higher self-esteem and need satisfaction in your relationship (DiDonato, 2015).

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5. Loss of Friendships

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To build a serious relationship, you have to spend a lot of time with someone. While this is all fine and dandy, this leaves you less time to spend on already established relationships, like friendships. I know I've been cast aside and distanced from friends when they find new partners, but what happens if those cast aside stopped caring about their friend in a relationship, and then that relationship is terminated? The person who left the relationship would likely have distanced themselves from their friends and have few, if any, people left to turn to. Our romantic partners control valuable and exclusive rewards and play a huge role in our emotional distress (Class Notes, Dark Side Criteria, 1/22/18), which contribute to the fact that it hurts so badly when going through a break up. Not having your best friends for support during that time would be a nightmare. It's never a good idea to distance yourself from your friends when in a relationship, as friends offer emotional support, help manage uncertainty and give us clarity (DiDonato, 2017).

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6. Conclusion

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While this post comes off as pessimistic, I do believe that relationships and dating can be awesome and exciting. However, it is important to keep this list in mind to avoid being hurt or hurting your partner.

References

Anderson, R., (2016, September 6). The Ugly Truth About Online Dating.

Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mating-

game/201609/the-ugly-truth-about-online-dating

DiDonato, T., (2017, December 8). Why You Talk About Your Relationship With

Friends. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meet-catch-

and-keep/201712/why-you-talk-about-your-relationship-friends

DiDonato, T., (2015, January 19). Does Your Partner See the Real You. Retrieved

from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meet-catch-and-

keep/201501/does-your-partner-see-the-real-you

Jaffe, Eric (2014, October 9). Why It’s So Hard To Detect Emotion In Emails and

Texts. Retrieved from https://www.fastcodesign.com/3036748/why-its-so-hard-

to-detect-emotion-in-emails-and-texts

Vilhauer, J., (2015, November 27). This Is Why Ghosting Hurts So Much.

Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-

forward/201511/is-why-ghosting-hurts-so-much

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