What can women do to successfully navigate the dating world?
These days, the age range of women looking for partners spans from young girls starting to look for love to mature women who find themselves in the dating arena again after the loss of a partner or a divorce. Dating apps across the generations have changed the landscape of finding a partner. But has it made dating easier?
I have a handful of women in my practice who want to be in a monogamous relationship, but the dating apps they’re on seem to show one woman after another parading themselves for men looking for a quick hook up. These women want to find love and companionship, but they don’t want to feel as though they are simply a menu item.
Another thing they tell me is that many men on these dating apps have created “rules” for dating. For example, a man will ask for sex on the first date, and if she declines, there will be no second date. Another thing I’ve heard is that some men are asking for nude photos to be texted to them before they will consent to a date. Never do this. Ever. Trust me, he doesn’t want to get to know you. And you can bet he’ll share those photos with his friends. The bottom line is that dating should never make you feel inferior, self-conscious, or second-rate.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the dating apps where female objectification and frat-boy behavior is celebrated. Just take a look at many of the popular TV shows that laud female cat fights, affairs, plastic surgery, sexualized clothing, teenage pregnancy, and marriage at first sight. Viewers can watch women battle each other for a man’s attention long enough for him to give one of them a rose to signal who will be chosen to stay or go home. What does all of this unconsciously tell us? It says that healthy, loving relationships are boring.
I’d like to discuss female objectification. The definition of objectification is the act of treating a person as an object or thing: The objectification of women in the media teaches girls that all they have to offer is their body and face, and they should expend all their effort on physical appearance. In other words, female sexual objectification refers to the perception that women are simply objects for men to enjoy.
There’s a long history of female oppression and subjugation where women are seen as a man’s property. In some religious teachings, a woman’s body exists for her husband’s pleasure and for bearing children. Deeply flawed theories of biological determination equate women with dumbness. A recent study on implicit bias revealed 75% of people think men are smarter than women, which only serves to build on gender stereotypes. All of this reinforces women perpetually being reduced to sex objects for men’s pleasure.
If you find yourself disheartened with dating apps, you’re not alone. A Pew Research Center study of 4,860 U.S. adults found that those who use dating apps or websites said the experience left them feeling more frustrated (45%) than hopeful (28%). Many users, particularly women, report being harassed or sent explicit messages on these platforms.
How do women find a loving, monogamous relationship these days?
There are some dating apps that focus on finding long-term relationships and marriage. Research those that focus on serious dating. If you use dating apps, consider the photos you post. What do they say about the person you are and what you’re looking for? Like going for a job interview, you need to dress the part. If you want a healthy relationship, make sure you aren’t contradicting that statement with the photos you post.
Dating apps aren’t the only way to find love. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box and meet people face to face. There are MeetUp groups across the country that organize many different types of events like hiking, biking, dancing, music, art, cooking, and much more. That’s a great way to meet people who enjoy the same activities without some of the pressures that come with dating.
Sometimes it helps to stop looking for a while. Take time off for yourself. Pick up a hobby. Take a pottery class. Learn a new language. Volunteer. Whatever it is, find something that makes you happy and do it. You’ll find that you meet people you never would have met otherwise. You can create a new circle of friends that brings new possibilities.
When you’re happy and fulfilled, you become a people magnet. When that happens, you just might find the relationship you’ve been looking for falls right into your lap.
If you feel anxious, depressed, or have feelings of sadness or hopelessness, please reach out to us. The sooner the better. At Wallace Family Therapy, we are trained to provide the most effective treatment that meets your specific needs and challenges. We’re here to help you.