That term, essentially, is this concept that having too many options is leaving us with no options at all.
This idea intrigued me because, as someone who has only started dating a little over a year ago, all I know is the hook-up culture.
I grew up on it. I’m experiencing it. And honestly, it’s exhausting.
Our generation’s views on relationships and love are the outcome of being exposed to so much infidelity, divorce and remarriage that “true love” has become a myth only seen in fairytales and rom-coms.
We are the result of failed marriages and broken homes, so it should come as to no surprise that we created this culture of casual sex and almost-relationships.
I know that’s true for me, at least.
It’s scary to think that as a child, I wanted nothing more than to become a submissive wife and mother, only to grow up 10 years later warding off any notions of marriage or a family.
Although I had my grandparents as role models that you actually can marry your first love, I had everyone else – including my own parents – prove otherwise.
As I got older, wrecked homes became a norm, and I lost hope in finding “the one.”
Even when I finally started dating, I already had my guard up.
At an early age, I had accepted my father for what he was: a cheater. Although I loved him all the same, it made me think that a monogamous relationship was too idealistic and impossible.
If my goofy, loving and caring father wasn’t faithful, then surely nothing would be different once I started dating.
I made the conscious decision to never trust anyone, without even giving them a chance.
I threw away all expectations of a relationship.
I thought this would help me be more realistic in the long run, but my “new age” perspective on love turned out to be even more romanticized than the traditional version and I found out the hard way.
I thought if two people wanted to be committed to each other, they could do it without a title. Nobody would have to force it upon the other.
To me, titles were mostly used to tell other potential courters that this person was off limits.
But if two people really wanted to be together, they could be, with or without the change of a relationship status on Facebook.
Because it’s not like a title would keep someone from sleeping with other people anyway.
What I later realized was that I was just afraid of being hurt.
Cheating could only happen in a relationship, so if there was no relationship to begin with, it doesn’t count right?
It still hurts just as bad when you find out the person you’re talking to is still active on that dating app, is still looking for other options and is still talking to other people.
It makes you feel inadequate. You start to question if you’re good enough, if you’re even worthy of love.
The paradox of choice also gives us this false sense of entitlement.
Because we’re only looking to have fun and hook up, we don’t owe anyone anything.
We’re allowed to have all of these options, in fact, we feel as if it’s our right.
No relationships, no strings attached, no emotions.
But when we assume that everybody is a part of this hook-up culture, we disregard those who actually want something serious.
We think since this person is on this kind of app, then he or she has to be on it to hook up, when that isn’t always the case.
People start feeling bad for wanting something serious because we’re supposed to be “too young to be tied down.”
However, we shouldn’t feel bad for wanting something meaningful with someone we care about. It’s not wrong to want to make memories with somebody special.
But we settle anyway.
As corny as it is, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” explains the anomaly in the popular quote:
We accept the love we think we deserve.
We make ourselves believe that “situationships” are the best we can get because it’s our only option.
If we don’t settle for this, we’ll just end up alone.
And I guess our reasoning is that being with someone who you suspect is sleeping with other people is better than being alone.
Doing this only creates a vicious cycle.
I’m guilty of being one of those people who decided to date around for the pure choice to keep my options open.
With more options to choose from, if the one I really wanted to be with didn’t want me back, there would be some other choices to cushion the blow.
I justified my disrespectful actions because I speculated that my partner was doing the same.
Even though I found someone I connected with and wanted to be with, in the back of my head, there was a nagging voice saying that something is better just a swipe away. I felt like he probably had the same nagging voice, too.
After all, why else would we still be active on a dating app after already meeting someone?
We just don’t want to trust because we don’t want to get burned. And we don’t want the responsibility of burning someone else.
If someone gets the opportunity to go home with a person they meet at a club, or maybe they get a text from their ex and want to respond – nobody has to feel guilty for doing so.
Since there was no talk to “define the relationship” with the person you’re seeing, you’re basically in the clear. It’s still fair game.
Eventually, when you do start to routinely see someone and find yourself in a situationship, “real” relationship problems come up anyway.
Because if it looks like a relationship and it smells like a relationship, guess what? It’s still a relationship.
Yet because there’s no official label, once problems arise, we simply ignore them, hope those problems go away and just start over with somebody new because casual sex is supposed to be fun.
The sole purpose of these situationships is not having to deal with the heartache and complications of a real relationship, so we try to avoid problems by never speaking to that person again.
I’m not saying that it’s ever right to ignore someone’s existence; it’s just what happens when we decide that commitment is only required when a title is placed.
Apparently nobody is worth the communication and effort to work through the issues.
That’s where all the ghosting comes from.
And it’s easy to start over with someone new.
For every lonely and heartbroken person out there, there is someone else who is just looking for the next best thing.
Also published on Elite Daily