Many bloggers tend to start writing “reflection” posts at the end of 2016, or write some sort of beginning of the year goal-oriented saga about how they are going to be better people, work out more, eat less, blah blah blah. This year, my version of all of this was simply looking backing on moments that changed me for the better, or times I had some sort of revelation about my life and where I was headed. There were many a time, and 21 was a year that certainly made me have some eye-opening kicks in the behind about my life and what I want. One of those things was, unusually, how I feel about the modern dating scene, and I think (with hesitation), I’m ready to share how I feel about it.

The article that resonates with me the most is from Thought Catalog, called “Why Modern Dating Makes Me Want To Punch Myself in the Throat.” I agree with everything written, but here’s an excerpt:

“We live in a world where people are afraid to feel anything genuine, or at the very least, are afraid to show it. When someone is angry with you, there’s no phone call asking to talk about it. Instead you get a passive aggressive response to a text message or a suspiciously relevant subtweet, quietly calling you out in 140 characters or less. If you like someone, you don’t tell them how you feel; rather you act interested enough for them to pick up on it, but not enough to freak them out. Don’t like it? Too bad. It’s all a big game and if you don’t play by the rules then you lose, and if you lose you end up alone and drowning in a pile of your own insecurity, wondering what you did wrong.”

This is what bothers me.

What happened to people just being honest and taking chances? What happened to respect? Why must we live in a world where we have to tip-toe around each other before someone FINALLY says something? Why are we living in a time when we must reconsider everything we say, because we’re afraid to look ‘too much’? What happened to being bold and buying the girl the damn bouquet of roses?

At one point last year, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try one of the apps. Just to see what the fuss was about. And I did it for about a month. I hated it. Why? Because there was no human connection or genuine curiosity in who I was as a person, and unfortunately this isn’t all that different from what I have experienced in “real life.” We’re so caught behind screens and images, that judging someone based on three or four pictures and a 50-character sentence is enough to be flirted with. I do not really look down on anyone who uses the apps – I have plenty of close friends who have been successful with them (and their boyfriends are THE best) – but the concept is not my jam. And in “real life,” I find that other humans my age tend to skip the part about getting to know someone even then too. It all has to be “not a thing” and “chill,” and if you take it one step too far, the guy might ignore you forever (see article above). This path seems too similar to what people call being “ghosted” on dating apps. It’s a shame that we are so bound by these invisible rules that we are missing out on actually getting to know each other on a personal basis.

I had a couple of experiences last year that made me sit back and wonder what this culture is really all about, and time has shown me that I still refuse to conform. I refuse to give my energy to anyone who doesn’t take the time to get to know me before anything else. I refuse to be controlled by the overarching societal standard that I have to go to specific places, act or dress a certain way, or be on apps to have any luck with getting someone’s attention. I’m not going to change who I am and what I am looking for because people tell me it doesn’t exist anymore.

Just for the record, I should say that I am still the most shy, quiet person in these circumstances. I tend to hide under a rock and wait. I’m afraid to speak up or even TRY to flirt because I think I’m incompetent. My palms get sweaty and I think I’m acting like a haute mess. I will re-think everything through later and wonder if I did anything wrong because when I like someone, I really do care THAT much.

And if caring and hoping is just THAT unpopular, I don’t want to be a cool kid anyways.