Vanity Fair recently published an article entitled Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse”. If you haven’t read it, it describes the effect that technology is having on the dating scene. Basically, the gist is that though people have always pursued hookups, it has never been more easy and accessible than today; apps like Tinder make it possible for people to arrange a hookup just about every night of the week. People highlighted in the article do just that, in what is described as sexual “gorging.”
As a parent, there are several things about this trend that concern me. As I look down into the deep, searching eyes of my four-month-old daughter, it pains me to think about people using her future body for their pleasure, only to throw it away for the next available option. Of course, the increased risk of STI’s or an unwanted pregnancy concern me as well.
And the idea that people are being tricked into a one-night-stand is awful. The article quotes one male that states,
“I sort of play that I could be a boyfriend kind of guy,” in order to win them over, “but then they start wanting me to care more … and I just don’t.”
But I think the thing the disturbs me more than anything is the fact that there is an entire generation, both men and women, thinking that this is just the way dating is; that there are millions of young adults riding the never-ending hookup train that will ultimately lead them where? Very possibly to feelings of emptiness; to a lower sense of self-worth, as they, night after night, are shown that they are just another option and never a priority.
Scoring with countless women doesn’t make us better men. Having sex with endless men doesn’t make us strong, liberated women. The men and women of this generation, and generations to come, deserve better than this.
I worry about what will happen to these individuals if and when the time comes that they do want to settle down. Studies show that most people in the U.S. are or want to be married. This tells me that they do want someone to think of and cherish them, and only them. But how possible will this be coming off of years of sexual gorging? There’s research that says that experiences like these constant hookups actually wire our brains to desire and need that level of stimulation. So within a marriage, after the initial excitement of finding “the one” has worn off, how hard will it be to forget those images of countless others, now burned into our minds? Plus we are creatures of habit. If a habit of easy hookups has been ingrained within us, how great will the temptation be to do it “just one more time”?
I am not naïve enough to think that keeping sex within the confines of marriage is widely realistic today, and I’m not a religious fanatic. But I can tell you why I think it’s often a better option.
In a marriage (and I mean this regardless of sexual orientation), there is committed trust. This is huge for your emotional wellbeing, which in turn is huge for your sex life. Before I got married, there was always some level of concern in the back of my mind about the fidelity of my girlfriends. When I got married, that unease fell away.
Sex within marriage often gets a bad rep, but I believe that it actually gets better over time (or at least it can if both people are willing to try). Over the years, you begin to really know your partner, and you can eventually form an emotional connection that is much stronger than in the early years. Your levels of comfort and trust also rise over time. These connections make for a better experience. And maybe one of the most important things you learn within a marriage is that sex is an important, but ultimately small piece of the puzzle. The ability to give to, care for and nurture each other extends far beyond what can be done with our bodies.
Of course, marriage of itself is no guarantee of fidelity; the Ashley Madison hack is proof of that (Ashley Madison is a website that facilitates cheating on your partner; they were recently hacked and all of their users’ data is now online). And many people say, “I don’t need a piece of paper to confirm my love.” But it’s more than a piece of paper. It’s at least once in your life, in front of your friends and loved ones, making a vow to make one special person the priority and treat them well, even when everything goes wrong and times are difficult.
I am under no delusions as to think that these ideas will be popular in 2015, but this is not a holier-than-thou rant; this is an I want you to feel loved and valued note. So before you roast me in the comments, take just one moment to stop and really consider the following.
Do you have someone in your life that thinks you are the best thing that happened to them? Are you able to take your clothes off and stand comfortably with your partner, because you know they love every part of you, however imperfect? If you were to become seriously ill, so that sex was out of the equation, do you have a partner that will say, “don’t think twice about that; I love you always and am going to be here to help you get through this”?
Because I want that for you. I want that for everyone.
And my message to the youth of this generation is this: not only is it possible, but you deserve it.
However, the path to a relationship like this is not by way of a few hundred hookups. This path requires developing yourself, becoming the person that you want to meet; someone that is honest, loyal, caring and loving. And when you’ve become that person and love yourself, you will be able to recognize a partner that is in that same place.