Why is dating so hard for women today?
Are dating apps the devil? Are women today a helluva lot pickier than previous generations? Have all the good guys actually disappeared? Or do we all just suck at dating?
According to a 2019 survey conducted by Pew Research Center, 47% of Americans say that dating is harder than it was ten years ago. 53% of those people claim the major challenge is finding someone looking for the same type of relationship, while 43% say it’s finding a partner who meets their expectations.
It can sometimes feel as though things were easier back in the day. No mobile phones. No social media. And no bulls**t. If you liked someone, you told them (MADNESS, right?). If a man wanted to take a woman out, he’d ask her face to face or call her on the phone (so old school). No sliding into people’s DMs and saying, “low key feeling you.”
Fast forward to today, and dating has gotten confusing for us all. The mixed signals, the misinterpretations, and the total lack of clear communication. Does he like me? Is he just being nice? Does he just want to f*ck around? Why does he think it’s okay to treat me like an option? Why can’t I find a kind, honest, sweetheart of a man and live happily ever after?
And WHY is modern dating so hard for women?
I’m breaking it all down in this article.
Here’s why dating is so hard today
1. We’re more aware of what’s right and wrong
Pew found that 65% of women currently single and actively looking to date say they have experienced at least one form of harassment from someone they went on a date with or were dating. This is unacceptable. And I think one of the reasons these stats are becoming increasingly alarming is because we’re all becoming more educated each day.
Even just a decade ago, pre #metoo, we weren’t having the kind of conversations we’re having now around consent, sex, and misogyny. This means as a woman dating today, you’re much more aware of what is and is not acceptable, and you’re not going to let sh*t like that fly—and that is a GREAT thing. Keep calling out behavior like this.
2. We haven’t dealt with our emotional baggage
We all go through a series of varying-sized traumas from the day we’re born. That time your dad shouted at you for accidentally throwing a basketball through the front window. Trauma. That time the guy you were crushing on at school called you ugly. Trauma. The time your boyfriend of a year cheated on you with your best friend. TRAUMA.
Chances are good some things happened to you in your past that affect how you show up today, and you’re not even aware of them. This fear, anxiety, and sense of worthlessness imprints on your brain and affects ALL of your future interactions—including how you date now.
Maybe your ex hurt you, which has led you to fiercely guard your heart and not let anyone in. Maybe every time a guy ghosts you, it reminds you of that time all your friends froze you out in high school.
I promise you, we all have wounds like this.
So, how do you start the process of healing?
Confront all of those shadows lurking in your closet. Take the time you need to address your insecurities and heal fully. Don’t allow your past to color your future.
3. Dating is so hard because we’re afraid
I want you to know that it’s normal to feel nervous about going on a date with someone you’ve never met before, whether you’re a woman who dates a lot or you haven’t in years. The guy meeting you probably feels the same way. But don’t allow your fear to stop you from enjoying dating, being vulnerable, and creating that all-important connection with someone. Vulnerability is key to developing intimacy.
One of the best ways to take the pressure off yourself is to focus on your date. Ask him lots of questions (come prepared with things to ask if you find you freeze up or run out of things to say)—most people love to talk about themselves, and this is a great way to get to know him better.
4. We settle for less than we deserve
Have you ever found yourself putting a man on a pedestal only to realize much later that you were celebrating qualities and actions that were the bare minimum of a good person?
Like, he texts you back and answers your calls and isn’t a sexist, racist homophobe who’s done jail-time, and you think, WOW, this guy is one serious eligible bachelor.
But really, these are basic traits that you’ll find in all high-quality men. So quit settling for someone mediocre because you think that’s the best you can get, or that’s all you deserve. Raise your bar, and men will meet you there.
5. Or, we’re looking for a fairytale that doesn’t exist
I want to address the other extreme of settling: having unrealistic expectations, usually born from consuming too many fairytales and romantic movies while growing up. If you’re out there expecting Mr. Perfect to show up, you’re going to feel stood up for the rest of your life. Why? Because he doesn’t exist!
None of us are perfect; we’re all flawed human beings. So if you find yourself on dates searching for what’s wrong with someone or having a million deal breakers, including he whistles too loud, he snorted once when he laughed, and his hands are too small, you’re likely to struggle. Of course, you want him to match your love vision (Little Love Step #2), but you’re never going to meet a man who ticks ALL your boxes if your list is ten pages deep.
I also want to add that if you’re looking for a long-term, committed relationship, you must accept that the initial honeymoon phase where everything is exciting, passionate, and sexy will eventually wear off. Relationships are not fairytales.
6. The paradox of choice
Is it just me, or do some people dating these days confuse people with buses?
There’ll be another one coming in 10 minutes; it doesn’t matter if I miss this one.
The bus over on that street looks newer and shinier and comfier.
I’m just gonna leave my rubbish here all over this seat, and I just don’t give a f*ck.
There’s so much choice. A plethora of options. Hundreds of matches in minutes, all at your fingertips.
He seems nice, but I wonder if there’s someone better out there…
He’s not as hot as the last guy I dated…. Pass.
I don’t like his hair… HARD PASS.
Or overwhelm kicks in when presented with an infinite choice. You spend an hour every evening scrolling and searching through profiles looking for someone who catches your eye, only to give up eventually and binge on Netflix.
This is the funny thing about choice. More is not always better. You think you’ve got a billion options, so you resist making a choice, but you constantly find yourself back in the same dating funk where you’re a million miles away from the happy, committed relationship you desire.
My message here is, don’t shout NEXT too soon on a guy you could potentially be incredibly happy with. So what if you don’t have an instant spark? So what if his hands are on the small side? Until you can confidently say he doesn’t meet your love vision, keep dating him.
7. Dating is so hard today because it requires less investment from us
So many women ask me, why is online dating so hard?
Like I mentioned above, we now have endless dating and hookup options without having to set foot out of the house. And because it’s so easy to find someone (anyone), it doesn’t matter if one person loses interest or moves on; you can get back on your phone and find someone else to take their place in a heartbeat.
There’s no real investment when it comes to dating apps and sites. So some people have a mindset of: why should I push myself to be authentic, vulnerable, honest, or self-aware? Likewise, there are no real consequences if we decide we’re done and ready to move on to the next person. This is why so many people ghost. But this is also the reason why so many people struggle to build meaningful connections and relationships.
8. Some people hide behind their phones
Although you might be a grown woman and behave like one, not everyone you meet will do the same. Some people never grow up. But because you expect better or assume they will treat you with respect when you’ve only just met them, you wind up feeling disappointed, let down, or hurt.
The security blanket of our phones makes some people behave like ass*oles.
Picture this in real life.
You’re on a date with a guy. You ask him a question.
He totally blanks you.
You repeat yourself thinking he didn’t hear you.
He still doesn’t respond.
You start waving your hands in front of his face or jumping up and down, thinking he might be in some weird hypnotic trance.
But still, no luck.
You’d think this guy was INSANE.
And what man would have the b*lls to behave like that in person anyway?!
But just because it’s on a dating app or via text messages, this behavior is deemed acceptable. Because the communication is faceless, some people find it easier to cower and run away rather than be honest with their feelings.
Moral of the story?
If a guy ignores your text, don’t message him EVER again. And make sure you’re keeping your options open (part of Little Love Step #4), so you don’t bat an eyelid when one of them disappears.
9. We struggle to communicate
Another reason why dating is so damn hard is that we are afraid to say how we feel or don’t know how to. On top of that, we all have different communication styles, and when you meet someone new, you’re pretty much clueless about what this is.
This leads to oh so many crossed wires, mixed signals, misinterpretations, and, you guessed it, people wind up hurting each other (and themselves).
Have you ever stopped to think about how strong your communication skills are?
Do you find it easy to express how you feel with people you know and don’t know? Or is it a struggle?
Are people receptive when you communicate with them or do you leave them feeling judged, attacked, or on the defensive?
Like all things, practicing how to communicate effectively with others will significantly improve your dating experience and help you navigate conflicts that arrive in your future relationships.
10. Some men believe that showing emotion makes them weak
One of my theories why dating is so hard these days is that we still live in a world where men are taught, practically from birth, that showing emotion makes them weak. It doesn’t matter if no one explicitly tells them this because they learn it through a string of subtle, everyday cues.
Like when he’s little, and something makes him cry, and a friend tells him to “stop being a girl.”
Or all the movies he watches filled with “action” men with bulging biceps, shooting machine guns, and driving fast cars who NEVER talk about their feelings.
Or that viral meme of Dawson from the Creek balling his eyes out as he lets Joey go. He was maybe the first teenage guy on a hit TV show to show any kind of emotion on screen, and look what happened?
I wish guys knew just how much you ladies want them to show you that side of them, instead of shutting down and drowning alone on the inside. Because without this vulnerability, you can’t build emotional attraction, which is key to getting to the next level in every relationship.
Sometimes if you’re willing to be open and vulnerable yourself, you’ll make a man feel comfortable doing the same when he’s with you, even if he usually wouldn’t. But there are no guarantees.
11. We want a relationship without the work
Do you want a relationship, but you’re not prepared to put in the work and get out there and date?
Do you find yourself repeating patterns in your past relationships where you give up on things too quickly?
“There’s actually nothing more difficult on the planet than another person. We’re all difficult; we all come to each new relationship wanting easy, but we also come with our fair share of unresolved painful experiences from previous relationships.”—Stan Tatkin in his TEDtalk Relationships Are Hard, But Why?
As Stan rightly says, relationships are HARD. They require work, and so does dating. Don’t expect to meet Mr. Right when you’re glued to your sofa every Friday night, accompanied by a stuffed crust pizza and a bottle of red.
And when you do finally meet a man who meets your love vision, be prepared to work at your relationship every day. You can think of relationships like plants—without this consistent nurturing; it will wither and eventually die.
12. It’s tough to figure out where you stand
Are you just hooking up, are you friends with benefits, dating other people, or are you officially a couple?
How the hell are you supposed to know?
Can a woman make the first move? Is it okay to text him first? Should I tell him I’m into him?
What are the rules and expectations?
There’s SO much confusion these days.
Here’s what I tell all the women in my Love Accelerator Program: unless you have officially had “the talk” and explicitly said to each other that you are in an exclusive relationship, you are both SINGLE and free to date other people (this is Little Love Step #6). In fact, I strongly recommend you date multiple people at once, and don’t pin all your hopes on one donkey.
If you’ve reached a point where you’re ready for exclusivity, don’t be afraid to be the one to ask a guy where you stand and where his head is at. You’ve got nothing to lose.
13. We fall into bed too quickly
Before you say it, I know there are couples out there who slept together on the first night they met and are living happily ever after. But generally, these people are the exception.
Somehow we’ve gotten into the mindset of getting naked physically before we get naked emotionally with someone. Sex first, heart later. Maybe for some people, it’s easier to be physically vulnerable than it is to bare their soul. And sex is not a bad thing. The problem is when you’re casually sleeping with someone without both being explicitly clear about your intentions, someone almost always ends up catching feelings and getting hurt when the other person is ready to move on.
We like to think of casual hookups as a way to enjoy meaningless sex, but sex always means something, and it always makes things messier. So if you find sex has been complicating your love life, take it out of the equation and see what happens. Plus, telling a man you’re not ready to sleep with him is a brilliant way to know whether he genuinely likes you or is just looking for some fun.
Instead of fixating on the question, why is dating so hard for women, look at every happy, healthy relationship as all the proof you need that love is possible. It’s out there.
In all honesty, dating can be a stroll in the park if you walk into it with the right mindset and strategy. The right approach will make this whole dating thing fun (yes!) and help you attract the man and relationship you deeply desire.
What’s your biggest struggle as a woman when it comes to dating today? Let me know in the comments below.
PS. If you’re ready to start making men pursue you for love, then join me on this free webinar to discover the 3 steps to building emotional attraction – Register here to get started (it’s 100% free).