Those of us who fall in the late millennial/cusp/gen z population know that dating at our age is way too stressful. It seems that you're never really with someone. If you're not just hooking up, you're either hanging out, talking, THEN dating, then...and this is rare...it's official, you've got yourself a relationship. Why does it have to be this way, though? I think we can all agree that this is a ridiculous way to go about getting yourself a significant other.
Some may argue that the problem lies with social media and dating apps. We are so obsessed with ourselves and how others perceive us, that we are afraid of being authentic. If you post the person you've been seeing too soon, you're too obsessed. If you don't post that person, you're either hiding them or embarrassed to be with them. You really can't win. We don't want to seem clingy, or too attached, so we don't let our guard down and tell people how we really feel about them.
We've created such a shallow culture that when we finally find someone who genuinely likes you and isn't afraid to say it, we run the other way. Then that person is labeled as a clinger, and the cycle of treating others poorly repeats.
The hookup culture is flourishing now that we have apps like Tinder and Bumble. You can literally find someone to hook up within minutes. There isn't anything wrong with this per se, however, it makes it hard to meet people in real life. We've become so used to meeting people online, that when someone approaches us in real life, we think it's creepy. Also, for those who aren't content with just hooking up, it's hard to find a relationship.
Back to the whole "stages of dating." The frustration is more common among my female group of friends rather than my male friends. You meet someone, and you're vibing really well, things are going great, so you go on a few more dates. Except they aren't considered dates..you're just hanging out. This whole time you think this is going somewhere, you may even hook up in the process, and then you either find out he's been doing the same with other people, or he didn't want anything other than whatever that was. Here's the best part of the whole thing, if you get mad about it, you're crazy!
Another issue I have is ghosting. Personally, I've been in a few situations where I would have liked to ghost, but I can't bring myself to do that to a person.
Not everyone has that issue, though, and it happens all the time. Again, it's more common for men to do it than women, probably because we're afraid of being murdered if we turn someone down, but whatever.
Even if you're just hooking up with someone, you could get ghosted. Like, you're both having a great time with no strings attached, and then one day you just don't get a response to your "wyd" text. No matter the context of your... situation... ghosting still sucks.
I guess what I'm trying to say here is, be honest with your feelings and what you want out of the time you are spending with a person. You should also be honest with yourself, if you want a relationship, and the person you like just wants to hook up, it's probably best to just cut it off while you're ahead. If you just want to "hang out" call it what it is... a friendship.
No matter your situation, make sure to use protection and give/receive proper consent so we can keep our problematic dating culture safe!