When we think about dating, especially heterosexual dating, it’s not uncommon that we find ourselves taking sides. Women tend to highlight the challenges they face dating men, and men tend to focus on the difficulties they have around women; one side always trying to understand how the other can be such a mystery.
However, the more I talk to my single friends from both sides of the equation, and the more I pay attention to my own experience, the clearer it is that both men and women actually face a lot of the same challenges in dating — we’re just too focused on our own point-of-view to see the other side.
Here are 5 dating challenges that are definitely not sex-specific:
Lack of chemistry
You won’t have chemistry with everyone you go out with, that’s why whenever you do have chemistry with someone it feels so damn good.
You can’t pretend to have chemistry, you can’t make it up, it’s either there or it isn’t. With the prevalence of online dating, it seems like legitimate chemistry is even harder to find these days. You might match with someone online, have great texting chemistry with them, but discover the spark is missing when you finally meet in person.
The search for real chemistry leads both men and women on a string of first dates that lead nowhere. While that’s part of the process, it can be frustrating.
If the chemistry is what ignites a relationship, matching values keep the flame alive.
Your values dictate how you see life, what matters to you in the present, and what your goals are for the future. Although compromising on values is not impossible, completely giving up on what you hold dear in order to please a potential mate is a recipe for disaster in the long run. You simply can’t last long with anyone unless your core values are the same.
Mismatched values can include, but are not limited to: whether you’d prefer a monogamous or polyamorous relationship; if you’d like to have children someday or not; how you’d handle finances as a couple; your opinion on religion, and so on.
You have some dating experience under your belt — especially if you’re over 30. You’ve had your heart broken before, and chances are most people you go out with have had their hearts broken, too.
Every once in a while, you come across someone who’s not only been hurt but who’s let that hurt shape their view of romantic relationships for the worse. They’re jaded, and they don’t do a good job neither handling it, nor hiding it.
They see you through the lens of their former partners. They judge you by what they assume about you, not by your actions. They pull away before you get too close.
The challenge in dating a jaded partner is an obvious one: jaded people have a hard time being legitimately enthusiastic about the people they’re seeing, much less about the dating process itself. They go through the motions of dating as if it’s a chore as if they feel pressured into dating even though they’d probably be better off staying single for a while.
They make you wonder why they’re even dating in the first place, since they have such little enthusiasm for it, and so much reserve towards entering a relationship.
Unwillingness to work on the relationship
This is a common complaint I hear from both men and women: how hard it is to find a partner who’s willing to work on the relationship. At the first sign they might need to make an effort, too many get scared and bail.
A lot of people prefer casual relationships, but even keeping it casual requires some negotiation, compromise, and work. Even casual isn’t completely effortless.
Many are also addicted to how easy and effortless the honeymoon phase of a relationship is, and as soon as that’s over, they quit. They equate dating with pleasure, and anything that’s even remotely like hard work easily scares them off.
It can be tricky to adjust the timing in a relationship.
You can find someone you have chemistry with, who shares your values, who’s willing to work on the relationship, but timing may not be on your side.
They might receive a job offer that takes them out of state (or country), they might need to hit the breaks on dating to take care of a family matter, they might need time to focus on a big career milestone or their own mental health issues. Or perhaps you do.
It’s also possible they’re not ready for a relationship the way you are. Either way, bad timing can seriously compromise your dating life, whether you’re a man or a woman.
Dating can sometimes feel like a minefield, especially now, but acknowledging the similar challenges we all face might make it easier to close the gap, and to diminish the perceived disconnect between the male and the female experiences.
Previously published on Medium.com.
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