This Is How We Date But It Can’t Be How We Love

200 likes on Facebook. The best filter on Instagram. Another pin on Pinterest, another swipe on Tinder.

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We live our lives so connected to what everyone else is doing. What everyone else has. We dress up our lives on social media, making ourselves prettier, skinnier and happier. We flaunt our availability and show off our feelings over 10 second Snapchats. We pick out the people we like and send them a “hey” with a flirty emoji. We message back and forth before we order them to our doorstep just like a pizza delivery.

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You flip through Netflix, have a few drinks, get to know just enough about them that you aren’t embarrassed when you have your next encounter, if you have one at all, and you hit the sheets for a casual hookup. You wake up, you part ways and you maybe send some cute selfies back and forth.

Can we really call this a date?

Can we even call this intimacy? No. Dating isn’t Netflix. It isn’t liking each other’s posts. It’s not posting a story on Snapchat of your matching wine glasses. Dating is putting your phone down. It’s sharing conversations at the dinner table, getting to know each other on a level that’s deeper than the pictures you post on Instagram. It’s eye contact and sweet gestures and valuable time. It’s paying attention.

The problem is, we don’t do this anymore. We don’t invest in people. We hit them up when we see a picture we like (a picture that is most likely not even real, but filtered and resized) and immediately fall into a lustful and shallow relationship. We aren’t valuing our dates based on compatibility, character or interest. We are basing these dates on what we see from social media.

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Maybe you two hit it off.

You go out and only check your phone a couple times. Maybe you want to see each other again. You text back and forth, meet up a few more times and finally have the talk. You agree to stop seeing other people, stop searching other people’s profiles and enter a relationship.

Here is where it gets hard. Our generation thinks that making an effort in a relationship is as easy as “good morning beautiful” or “thinking of you” with a cute selfie attached. We are afraid of work. We are afraid of committing to one person without leaving room for a backup guy or girl to take our mind off of any relationship drama we might face. We aren’t willing to put up a fight.

We are so damn connected to everyone else’s life that we can’t help but compare. We see the perfect relationships on Facebook and wonder why we can’t have something that special. We read other people’s pins on what the fairytale love should be and start wondering if we are really happy. The problem is, it’s all a lie. No one posts pictures of mascara running down their cheeks. No one quotes hurtful words and hashtags #reallove. We don’t see the fights, the financial struggles or the realness that comes with love. Love is not a good morning text. Love is not filtered selfies and beautiful dates every weekend. Love is patient, it’s tolerant and it’s strong. Real love requires work and acceptance. It requires sacrifice, forgiveness and real effort. There are hurtful words that were never meant to be said, there are apologies and tears and disagreements. There are nights that never see much sleep and days that are filled with “I’m sorry.” Real love looks nothing like the love you are comparing your relationship to on social media.

What is even worse, people will end their relationship because they think it’s “too hard” without realizing what too hard even is. Arguments happen. Disagreements happen. Financial struggles, words coming out the wrong way and over-reacting are all a part of relationships. But people don’t realize that. They are so quick to walk away from a struggle that they don’t realize how unhappy they will be with every relationship they enter for the rest of their lives.

Real dates are the ones that require conversation.

Courting. Effort. Put your damn phone down and give someone the chance to interest you enough to forget about picking it back up. Real commitment is two people unafraid of being exclusive. No backup dates, no cute guys or girls on the backburner. Real intimacy isn’t good casual sex. It’s long talks on the phone. It’s vulnerability. It’s opening up and showing the parts of yourself that you don’t really like. It’s feeling their love shine in those places of your soul that you would rather not look at.

If we continue to date the way we are, we will never experience real love. We will never know what it’s like to grow stronger with another person through the struggles life likes to throw in our faces. We will never experience the comfort of leaning on someone we trust. We will never feel secure with another human being and we will never be vulnerable. We will continue to dress our relationships up with filters and cute hashtags, making it out to be much better than it is, until reality slaps us in the face and we run away.

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Make a real effort.

Love someone that has flaws, and let them see you with your guard down. Invest in real conversations and don’t be afraid to fall. Be committed and be honest with each other. Stop dating in the fast lane. Love is about quality, and it doesn’t have a chance as long as our dating mindset is all about quantity.

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