Well, after what is easily the longest hiatus I’ve yet taken on this blog I find I have far too much to say in one post! My thoughts and feelings about the Coronavirus and lockdown have changed so deeply and profoundly that it’s extremely difficult to even articulate them. And now we find ourselves in the midst of riots and protests which have erupted so suddenly and violently that, after such a long period of forced isolation, it’s hardly any wonder.
I’m very grateful to be able to go back to Mass, but many more around the world aren’t so lucky. Let’s continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who are still without the sacraments, that they may be able to go back to church as soon as possible.
But I’m not going to talk about the lockdown or the riots today. If you want my views on those (or at least the former), I strongly encourage you to check out Computing Forever’s channel over on YouTube. His videos have really shaped the way I view the whole situation.
What I want to write about today, dear friends, is Anna Kendrick’s new TV show, Love Life. I watched the first three episodes the other night and was struck by it for a couple of reasons. I should mention now that it’s a dreadful show and I do not recommend it, yet it was very eye-opening for me about the secular culture of dating.
Kendrick plays Darby, a 20-something everywoman living in New York City (where else?) navigating a succession of relationship dramas. The show is pegged as a romantic comedy but I found it thoroughly depressing.
Not because of the relationship failures Darby undergoes, but because this really is what modern dating looks like. Two people meet, sleep together a few hours later, and then it maybe-kinda-sorta morphs into what we would consider more or less a normal relationship (if she’s lucky).
No commitment, no declaration of intention, no responsibility, nada.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “duh, Anna.. how do you not know that this is what happens in modern dating culture?”
Well, yes, I am aware of this, but seeing how normalised everything has become – even things that would have raised eyebrows not too long ago – was what I found so surprising. Moreover I don’t spend a lot of time around secular singles, so the reminder was perhaps more potent.
I’ve also started being a little more circumspect about the kind of television I expose myself to. I wouldn’t usually watch something like Love Life but I like Anna Kendrick, so I switched it on out of curiosity and continued to watch in a kind of horrified fascination. Perhaps it’s because of my self-imposed isolation from the more tasteless media on offer nowadays that the vapidity of this show, the dialogue and scenarios remained with me as they did.
After I finished the third and (at that point) last episode, all I could think was how utterly depressing and banal modern dating is for both sexes, but particularly for women. What a pup they’ve been sold.
Since last century women have been told they can have it all: independence, a career, casual sex, zero-commitment relationships and – best of all – they can have it guilt-free, pain-free and worry-free! Of course it’s all a fantastic lie; but what’s even more nefarious is that it’s a lie with expectations attached. Not only can you live like this, but you should.
This is the undertone to many of the conversations in Love Life – and most other current sitcoms, I imagine – you don’t need to commit to a man if you don’t want to; you don’t need to feel bad about casually sleeping with a guy and then never wanting to speak to him again; you slept with him on the first night and he didn’t call you? He’s the one with the problem!
It’s all me-me-me relativistic selfishness. But here’s the thing: even while promoting the secular worldview, the scriptwriters can’t help but reveal the pain, loneliness and misery these kinds of double standards cause, often for both parties.
One of the most telling moments comes in episode three when Darby bumps into a young man she casually slept with at a party and is trying to avoid. He calls her out on the lies she fed him and when she tries to brush off their sexual encounter as “no big deal”, that they just got “caught up in a moment” he responds with what was possibly the show’s most honest insight into the this lie: “I’m not a moment, I’m a person”.
While it can’t entirely escape truth, Love Life, like many other modern TV shows, is formed by a feministic narrative which appears to resent the biological reality that men can walk away from sex far more easily than women can. Before the 1960s, this was known as the ‘risk’ of pregnancy. (Funny how doing the very thing that creates babies sometimes, you know, creates babies.)
The advent of the pill changed everything. Suddenly women could be just like men. They could have sex and walk away from it. The deep resentment built up over hundreds of years turned into a frenzy which demanded women receive everything men had access to. They called this ‘equality’ but really it was about superiority; a long-awaited plan of revenge that could finally take shape.
Now, I’m not going to pretend that abusive and corrupt men have never existed, nor am I going to claim that I’m ungrateful for certain liberties afforded me over the last 50 years, such as the freedom to study and work wherever I please. However, what the feminists then didn’t anticipate (or care about) was that despite the pill, women would still be unable to walk away from sex as easily as men because they were, and always will be, tethered to the biological and emotional drive to be cared for, protected and loved.
I honestly believe that if men didn’t care that much for sex, women would not choose to engage in it as often as they do. For women, sex is less about pure physical pleasure and more about creating or strengthening emotional connection. But because women are expected to be just like men, they’re expected to walk away from these encounters without much emotional investment.
There’s clearly an emotional element for men, too, but it’s not as strong, nor does it drive the desire to have sex nearly as much as it does for women.
So when women walk away and they discover that they do care, they do feel emotionally invested in this person, it really hurts. But to add insult to injury, women are made to feel guilty about this very real and very natural pain.
The other major thing that struck me about Love Life was how alike all women really are, regardless of whether they’re devout Christians or diehard atheists.
As I’ve said, all women want to be loved, cared for and protected (whether or not they say so). Women also want to feel secure in these things – in knowing that they’re there to stay. This is why women care so much about defining the relationship – it even has its own acronym, for crying out loud!
In episode one, Darby experiences anxiety and depression when a guy she sleeps with fails to contact her after several days. The narration describes this descent from joy to misery:
The first day after sleeping together she is jubilant.
The second she gets a little concerned.
The third day anxiety sets in and she begins to question herself and her attractiveness.
Day four her anxiety deepens and depression begins to show.
Day five sees her thoroughly deflated and questioning whether she should just contact him instead.
And on it goes. This part of the episode is very well written; Darby’s experience resonated with me completely. Not the one-night-stand obviously, but that anxious hope for security, for a sign of committed interest from someone you care about.
Fortunately for me, I’ve been spared the far deeper pain that must come with giving so much of yourself away at that level of physical intimacy without any promise of commitment or responsibility from the man.
Gosh, without even so much as having held hands this kind of waiting can be torture! Is he interested or not?/Shouldn’t he have called me by now? I gave him my number/We had such a good conversation! What’s going on?/We’ve been on several dates but I’m still not sure if he likes me/Are we dating or are we just hanging out?
Some time ago I was seeing someone who’d recently converted to Christianity; we’d been on a few dates but it had morphed into ‘hanging out’ – cooking, playing video games, etc. Friends asked me if we were dating and I genuinely didn’t know what to tell them.
Were we? Nothing had been declared and lines had been blurred, so I simply didn’t know. I waited, but he never said anything. Finally I brought the question up and he admitted he probably wasn’t ready to date after all. I later asked him whether he had been planning to address whether we were dating or not, and his response really took me by surprise: “no, because I knew you would”.
When I asked him what he meant, he elaborated by saying, “girls always want security”.
I found this attitude a huge turn-off at first, until I realised that this is the way of the world. No-one is expected to commit or declare their intentions. Men don’t ask women out any more, they kinda-sorta-just fall into a relationship. Or worse, sleep together continually until it just turns into one.
What a pathetic standard.
And since women nowadays are expected to give it away at the drop of a hat, is it any wonder that so many are left waiting for a call? It’s never been easier to get away with casual sex than it is today. If that’s all a man wants, and he finds a willing woman without too much trouble, once she’s given him what he wants why should he stick around?
I know many of you are already familiar with this line of reasoning, so I won’t hash it out too much. Suffice to say, it doesn’t take much to understand why everyone in the dating pool is so unhappy nowadays. The world gives young people very little incentive to live virtuously, so unless they receive good instruction from a trusted figure, they’re pretty much guaranteed to fall for this deceptive and worthless narrative.
I can only imagine how much it must hurt to have to go through the agonising experience of uncertainty about whether the object of your interest likes you enough to want to pursue you after having given yourself to him completely.
What is clear to me after watching this terrible but insightful TV show is that women fundamentally all want the same thing, but most have been lied to about what this is, or the best way of getting it.
All women really do want the same thing – love, security, to be understood – but so many have been blinded by what the world tells them they should want that they convince themselves it’s what they really do want; and when it fails to make them happy they think there must be something wrong with them.
Dawn Eden writes about this phenomenon in her conversion story, The Thrill of the Chaste. She was convinced that the only way to catch a man was to give him what he wanted immediately, hoping that he would then want to stay with her, and could never understand why he always left the next morning. It wasn’t until her conversion that she realised what she was doing was the very opposite of what she should have been doing to find a good, committed man.
I find it very disheartening that the same foolish message is still being peddled to young women. However, I discovered some surprising nuggets of truth in Love Life as well. I’d like to think it’s not possible to entirely escape from the truth that your heart speaks to you, even if it’s the antithesis of what the media, your friends and the world say.
After all, women have always sought love and romance, and they continue to, in spite of the feminist agenda which infects every facet of society. This gives me great hope for those caught up in the cycle of modern dating – if we speak to their hearts, perhaps they too can be set free.
5 thoughts on “Why modern dating is disastrous”
Great post, Anna! You echo a lot of what Mark Regnerus found in his book Cheap Sex.
Honestly, I do not remember a time that I didn’t want to get married and have a family. Perhaps it was the hand of Divine Providence. Perhaps it was the fact that my parents provided me with a wonderful example of a loving, long-term marriage. Perhaps it was my personality, which sought to rebel against the status quo of “free love.”
I don’t want anyone to believe that there was no “spark” or romance when I fell in love with my wife. However, I had looked at marriage pretty objectively for a while and knew that it provided huge benefits beyond sex, companionship, and children. Married people — especially men — live longer. On average, married couples earn greater income and accumulate more assets than do singles. Married couples’ children tend to live longer and finish schooling. Simply put, the deal was too good to pass up!
Obviously, the benefits of marriage could be a case of mere correlation and not causation. Genetic determinists might argue that those who are prone to earning more, accumulating wealth, etc. are simply more genetically predisposed to get married. These are possible explanations, but I lean toward the belief that marriage creates extrinsic benefits because the “whole” of the marital unit is greater than the sum of its parts.
Note: Everything that I’ve written above applies equally to arranged (but NOT to forced) marriages. In the West, arranged marriages are not as widely practiced, but there IS a lot of wisdom in the practice.
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I always avoided the secular scene but the Catholic dating scene is strange. Without really thinking about it I gave up on dating 3 or so years ago and when asked why I realized it was becasue it was just so depressing: settling for asking out women to whom I was only marginally attracted becasue there were so few around, mutual awkwardness, getting shot down at a very high rate. It was hardly ever fun.
I have 2 friends who were seminary drop-outs and hit the local Catholic dating market with a lot of hope only to give up out of frustration. One had issues with depression so I get why he was unattractive but I couldn’t figure out why the other was always striking out, he was a fun, athletic southern boy. They both ended up secular dating – the second guy with really pretty girls – and fell into the sort of sins one would expect. I’m sure it there are analogous experiences for women.
Very insightful and very well expressed post, Anna. The modern dating scene is just mutual masturbation and leaves everyone high and dry, not just women. The development of contraception was a radical revolution that is very much behind this malaise.
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It may be difficult to accept, but there’s a reason why men don’t see reason to “be romantic” any more. The “cheap sex” analysis is not wrong, but it’s incomplete in self-serving way. This article puts things far better than I could:
The bloke who did the research into the contraceptive pill, was an Australian Catholic- you won’t see his name in the credits. There were three brother’s, all supported by their mother in a fatherless household. He later did the preliminary research into cloning, and the subsequent to this, that of DNA statistical mapping of the sequential – key to unlock the genome(s) ,again you won’t see his name in the credits- the key to life is pure, an unadulterated naked truth. His intent with the contraceptive pill was( his poor mother)to make married women’s lives easier, by giving them greater control. It was never intended at the level of morality for general societal use outside of marriage. Corporates- Market – betrayal, and the baying mob sided with Barabbas ( give us what we want) We gain the world at the expense of the soul.