Now that Sex is Easy to Find... What's the Fate of Love?
Never one to downplay the importance and sheer joy of sex itself and all things sensual, I have been bothered lately by thoughts. Thoughts that love, in its purest and sweetest form, may be on its way out. Not so much that it is trending down, but that we as a society forget how to love or worse, are entirely divorcing ourselves from wanting to love another in an active way. I’m not a prude; I just wonder what happened to love.
The Tinder Universe: Freud’s ID at its very best
In this technological age of an updated version of something every 20 minutes, are we stalling commitment and instead, always waiting for the next best thing? With apps like Tinder, we are a swipe away from multiple sex partners; some who are super hot, others who are funny, and yet others who are just very highly appraising of their sexual skill. We get diversity, availability, and the promise of (though not always fulfilled) satisfaction. Then there is the “sport swiping,” which is my new (copyright pending) term for swiping someone you would consider “out of your league” to perform sporty activities of another kind with, to later brag about to your friends. I mean, not that I have ever done this. Of course, I know some people (real people!) who have found relationships on Tinder. I just know a lot more who haven’t.
I admit it. I have downloaded and swiped. More than once. Some nights I would engage in this behavior for hours on-end (just the swiping). When “It’s a match!” shows up, an odd sense of satisfaction accompanies it. It feeds the need to be desired, to be pursued, and frankly, the validation is a nice pick-me-up on a bad day. Sometimes you get a pleasant surprise when a “pie-in-the-sky” swipe turns into the real deal. Sometimes you take it to a date, other times straight to bed. Many times, a right swipe will just disappear into the Matrix as though it never existed.
All this lusty behavior satisfies the ID. Remember the ID? It’s the little 5-year-old in us that says, “I want ice cream, and I want it now.” The ID impulse tells us to satisfy our pleasure center immediately, and we do it. We are licking the metaphorical ice cream like crazy; in fact, we have created a term for it — “hookup culture.”
Why do we look for sex rather than love? Are they exclusive terms? Does it take the pressure off finding “the (mythical) one?” Are we hoping it will turn into more? After all, one-quarter of all singles have converted sex into a long-term relationship (I was shocked too). Are we looking for a shortcut to knowing someone? Do we look for no-strings attached sex to quell our biological and emotional needs, or are we merely avoiding being hurt, being truly seen, and being rejected in a bigger way?
Fear of commitment, failure, and shifting priorities
Cat Stevens sang it best when he warbled, “The first cut is the deepest.” Some of us never get over our first love. Granted, many of us still have issues getting over our fourth and seventeenth loves, but it deserves a moment of marinating on this subject. Committing to someone, committing to making them blueberry and white chocolate chip pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup on Sunday mornings (am I being too specific here?) to show how much you adore them takes vulnerability. It also demands compromise, and at times, putting your paramour’s needs before your own. Some people can’t do that. Other people can’t stop putting others before themselves and end up resentful. Neither way is healthy. Sometimes it is just easier to make a minimal investment, so the losses aren’t that significant.
Regardless of the reasons why past hurts pay forward, fear of failure scares us away from future commitment. Maybe the last one was a cheater, a manipulator, a lousy kisser (a capital offense), or liked One Direction in secret. Maybe they were sweet, attentive, and unforgivably dull, and you hated breaking up with a great person because they weren’t the perfect combination of comfortable and exciting. Your family notices you have a 9-month cycle from infatuation to avoidance and you don’t want to hear about it yet again. You feel a little like a failure because, in a world full of ass hats, you can’t make it work with the “right” man (or lady) you always talk about wanting. Fear of failure, for the second or seventieth time, makes casual a beautiful place to be.
Maybe you have no baggage (liar), and you can travel the emotional version of Spirit Airlines fee-free because right now you just can’t get into a relationship. You know you are moving to another city, or too focused on kids or work, or maybe you just have the good sense to know you aren’t ready for something serious right now. Instant Sex ala Tinder or POF is like ramen; it works in a pinch.
Treatise of the Hopeless Romantic
I admit it; I am a hopeless romantic. I believe in love and someone who truly gets you. I believe in watching Rudy for the 80th time because it’s his favorite movie (spoiler: he gets put in the game). I still want the relationship my grandparents had where he brought her flowers every Thursday and they would sing together. I want to believe others want and need this connection but they are scared to put themselves out there. I mostly worry we are so worried about what’s around the corner that we disregard the beauty in front of us.
Just so long as I don’t have to watch the beauty of Rudy again.; then all bets are off.