Dating is really hard! I hear this from people I work with, friends, family members, etc. It’s a really difficult endeavor. I want to talk about some of the reasons why.
See also: Healing Relationship Patterns with Laurel Roberts-Meese and Hadley Davis.
One of the logistical reasons is that there’s a perception that there’s tons of available people out there which is actually not the case. App-based dating in particular will have you believe that there are thousands of singles near you, [but when you] weed out people that don’t have any shared interests, lifestyle stuff, phase of life -- and by the way, are you attracted to them and are they attracted to you? -- there’s actually not that many people.
There’s some really interesting research that was done by a team of researchers in collaboration with Aziz Ansari -- of all people -- called Modern Romance and it’s about dating practices in the modern age. I know Aziz Ansari had some stuff happening with him years ago, [but] the book is actually really excellent in terms of the cross cultural and longitudinal research on what it’s like to be dating today. I recommend that, and there’s an audiobook if you like that.
But the real reason that dating is so hard is that really activates your attachment system. Your attachment system is basically the internal structure that you have for relating to other people. You didn’t choose your attachment style; [it] is largely formed by the people who raised you, early relationships, friends, partners, all contribute to how you are in relationships.
There are three common types of attachment and they are secure, anxious and avoidant. It’s self-explanatory: people that are securely attached have positive feelings towards her partner and they know that their partners there for them and they feel pretty secure in it. Anxiously attached people need a little more reassurance, a little more frequent contact, and they can have this insecurity, wondering “does my partner really like me? Am I gonna get broken up with?” and that is normal. And it’s also very uncomfortable and gets very activated when we’re dating. And then the avoiding style is really not wanting someone to come in and cramp your style, not wanting to feel like you lose autonomy or a sense of agency or whatever it is that it makes it very difficult to be quite vulnerable.
The good news is that you can heal attachment if you are anxious or avoidant. It can be changed. It really can. There’s a book I really love called Attached. The authors are Amir Levine and Rachel Heller, and it’s really easy to read. There’s some cool little quizzes and charts in there that are really helpful and give some really practical advice on how do you shift your attachment style, or at least find a partner that has a complementary style to yours so that you’re not doing this anxious-avoidant dance. Often anxious people will find avoidant people and they create this push-pull that reinforces these patterns that are so uncomfortable.
If you want to work with a therapist on attachment issues and how they’re coming up either in your relationship or in dating, you can schedule a consultation with us. We love working with attachment stuff. It’s super easy to schedule a consultation on our website. Just click the time and enter your name and phone number and we will give you a call at that time and see if we can match you with one of our therapists. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Laurel Therapy Collective
offers online therapy to California residents for anxiety, transitions, and trauma.