Love & Sex

Five Valuable Dating Skills That Are Going Extinct

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Damn you, telecommunications!

Any of my friends will tell you I have a problem: I'm a modern Luddite. This has its pros and cons: I used TextEdit all through college because I'd never heard of OpenOffice, but now I'm excellent at manually indenting things with my spacebar.

Lest you think my crippling disability is entirely based in ignorance, some of it is based in actual concern about the times we live in. Whether I like it or not, we will go down in history as the first little pods who came of age in a digital world. Technology has changed the way we consume media, the way socialize, and yes — the way we love. And while it's not all bad (hello, Words With Friends), there are some ways in which technology is changing dating for the worse.

1. Limited stalking possibilities

Remember when stalking someone meant trailing them home and watching them creepily through your car window at two a.m.? Fine, maybe that's not behavior we'll totally miss. But there's something to be said for preserving a little mystery when you're interested in someone. Are they dating anyone? Where do they work? With Facebook and dating-site profiles, there's little left to the stalking imagination. And then when you finally do go on that date, you have to act surprised to hear all that stuff, which is just awkward. Let's keep the mystery alive and wait to Google till the third date, shall we?

2. Having to actually show up

Back in the days when politicians bothered to lie about blowjobs and not everyone had a cell phone, people made plans and usually kept them. Without the ability to claim sickness in a last-minute text, people actually had to fake sounding sick on the phone to blow people off. Not only are our collective acting skills worse, but also, we barely know what it means to commit to plans anymore. Imagine if you promised to go out with your friends, agreed on a time and place to meet, and had no way to bail last minute because you felt like watching Netflix? You'd probably get laid more.

3. Awkward first phone conversations

These days, it's pretty likely your first-date plans will be set up via text. And while you might get butterflies from sending fifteen text messages back and forth about which bar you prefer, for me, it's the end of romance. I want that awkward first phone call; the one where you hear the other person's nervous voice, accidentally talk at the same time, and say something in a less than perfectly-composed way. It's not often we get that heart-thumping-in-your-ears-stomach-flip feeling anymore. I say we try and seize the excitement where we can get it and reclaim the old-fashioned phone call.

4. Knowing how to wait

I might be nostalgic, but I'm as bad at waiting as anyone else. And man, are we bad at it. Even the New York MTA knows it. They're currently investing money in those "next train arriving" signs, because they've found it's not so much the train being late that we hate — it's not knowing how long we'll have to wait. But here's the thing: waiting is inevitable. We can try to keep ourselves distracted at all times with devices, but some things just take time. (Like, say, human gestation, or a new Jonathan Franzen novel.) Not knowing how to wait is making us impatient when it comes to dealing with things that matter — like finding long-term strategies to combat global warming, or going for the delayed tantric orgasm. Relationships take patience, and patience takes lots of practice. Every boring, distractionless chance we get.

5. Being utterly alone

How many minutes out of your day are you ever fully alone with your thoughts? I don't mean listening to your iPod on the train, or watching TV, or sleeping. I mean totally, utterly alone with yourself and your thoughts — no distractions. Yeah, the number's not too high for me either. And I think that's a big problem. Most of our greatest art and thought has come from people who were comfortable being alone. But that's not the only thing that falls by the wayside without solitude: the biggest thing that suffers is our relationships. How are we supposed to enjoy time with others when we don't spend quality time dating ourselves? (And no, masturbation doesn't count.) We need time alone without technology to figure out who we are and what we want. If we lose that, we might as well be cyborgs. And with that, I'll get off my nineteenth-century soapbox. Besides, I have things to do, like finally figuring out this Napster thing I've been hearing about.