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The Art of Dating in an Anything-Goes World

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

Movies seem to be a natural go-to place for me to reflect about what’s going on in culture, and it’s no different this time as I reflect on my upcoming Art of Dating workshop – the Netflix algorithm did not disappoint. Out of nowhere appeared the movie Newness described as a movie about two millennials in LA "who are navigating a social media-driven hookup culture and find themselves beginning a relationship that pushes both emotional and physical boundaries."

During a recent workshop on dating I heard comments and questions like “I’m not sure how to be a man in a relationship,” and “What does it mean to be in relationship?” Participants also were deeply reflective about how their own parents have contributed to their patterns when it comes to relating to that special someone.

This movie captured brilliantly the sense that everything is up for grabs when it comes to relationship these days. Some may frown upon what feels like an everything- and anything-goes culture, but I think that the purpose of all this exploration is for something new to emerge that actually brings deeper connection between people who feel drawn to each other. We just haven’t figured it out yet.

Our Experience of Relationship Has Deep Roots

They say millennials value experience more than things, and I think with a new perspective and framework for considering the deeper purpose of relationships, millennials may help in the overall evolution of the way we relate to each other in romantic relationships.

Love at first sight and opposites attract – That intense initial attraction on a mind, body and soul level is real for some people. It happened to me! In many cases though that initial attraction – especially among opposites – turns into resentment if the couple is not aware of the deeper purpose of the attraction. Often we are attracted to someone because they embody traits that are undeveloped in us, and the purpose of the attraction is to make that conscious. The problem is that if we do not develop those traits, we later come to resent them in the other person. Try this: Reflect or journal about what you seem to be most attracted to in romantic partners and consider whether those traits are your weaknesses.

Parents as our first examples of relationship – We just can’t get away from the impact our parents have on how we think and behave. We may have had the most wonderful childhood, but there are still patterns that sometimes turn out not to work for us, and if we’re not conscious of where those patterns come from we can’t change them. One of my workshop participants discovered that she was breaking up with men before they could break up with her. She grew up in a military family and when her father would leave to serve his country she felt abandoned. In her experiences with men, she realized she was protecting herself from being abandoned again. Try this: Reflect or journal about your parents’ relationship and try to identify your own patterns of relating to others that may have developed as a result. By the way, siblings will not develop the same patterns even though they have the same parents.

Psychological type – You’ve maybe heard of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator test – based on C.G. Jung’s theory that there seemed to be 16 general psychological types that describe people’s way of being in the world. There are some types that are naturally complementary and others that can be disasters UNLESS the couple consciously works on their self-awareness. The people we are attracted to AND the people who repel us are often mirrors for what is either lacking in ourselves or of what we are in denial about. Try this: Take any of the many free versions of the psychological type assessment and see what you can learn about how you relate to romantic partners.

Relationship as Life Lessons

There’s this saying about how every encounter contains a life or spiritual curriculum. This has been my experience as I have made sense of my 24-year marriage that ended in divorce, my obsessive online dating experiences, and my current relationship, which has helped me open up to a new kind of love.

If you are feeling lost in today’s mess of dating apps and breakdown of norms related to romantic relationships, join our conversation about The Art of Dating on Wednesday, November 7th, 6:30-8pm at Elle Studio + Wellness. Click here to register.

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