I’m not really a horoscope kind of person. Along with fortune cookies, the current state of the American presidency, and organized religion, I consume newspaper astrology with a healthy dose of skepticism. But when my mom decided to forcibly read me my 2016 love horoscope over the phone last weekend, I was pleasantly surprised with what the stars had to say.
“Why would anyone look to the heavens for an insight into their love life? Do we really feel such an important aspect of our existence is so entirely out of our own control? What does that say about how we see ourselves? Might it imply that we understand so little about others… or about our own feelings, that all experiences in the realm of interpersonal exchange are as random and unpredictable as the lottery? Many of us tend to take a surprisingly passive view of romance. We dwell on what others have done, said or acted. We wonder what they will do or say, or how they will act next. We suspect our own ability to influence this is severely limited. If our hearts are radios, we see them as receivers not transmitters.”
Yeah stars, you pretty much nailed it.
The spotlight on modern love is enormous right now and I’ve been spending a fair bit of time reading about it online lately. I’m recently single and perhaps this is a not-so-secret ploy of mine to delay the inevitable “getting back out there” process. For whatever reason, I’ve been hiding inside a lot lately with my cat and my laptop, learning all sorts of things I had limited knowledge on before. (For instance, “ghosting.” Prior to reading this essay, I thought ghosting meant arriving and leaving a party without anyone noticing your arrival or departure.)
In June of 2015, Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg published their book, Modern Love: An Investigation. I read the book in December expecting a fluffy memoir about Ansari’s experience being an ethnic kid in Southern Carolina and the romantic escapades of his youth. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised when the book turned out to be a thoroughly researched exposé on what it means to be single in today’s society. Spoiler alert: it’s not going well for a whole lot of people.
Klinenberg is an American sociologist and a scholar of urban studies, culture, and media. He is just one of many professionals who dedicates a significant portion of his career to understanding modern love (which is a pretty important cause to dedicate your career to, given that it affects and confuses pretty much the whole entire world).
Anyway, there seems to be a reemerging theme throughout what I’ve been reading.
The state of dating right now leaves a lot to be desired. Dating has become a lazy practice, and there seems to be a little bit of a disconnect when trying to connect. There is also a passiveness that develops as a result of insecurities that everyone has but nobody seems to want to admit they have. Being complacent in the search for love is not good. Neither is this endless power struggle that seems to govern the back-and-forth between two people, inhibiting an organic connection altogether.
So what or who is responsible for sullying up modern dating? Is it our phones that keep us at a safe distance from the people we are seeing, or the masterminds behind online dating websites that throw potential mates at us at with such velocity that we lose sight of why we are even dating in the first place? Or maybe it’s the figurative coldness of this city (Toronto is the second unhappiest city in Canada, did you know?), or the fact that something like 50 percent of our parents are divorced? Perhaps it’s the media’s glorification of love and dating, which creates a gaping chasm between what dating is and what we expect it to be.
The early stages of dating have never, and likely will never, foster feelings of confidence and security in those looking for love. The stakes are too high to feel entirely safe when you date. There are a lot of reasons to keep someone you’re dating at arms length and there are a lot of reasons to not believe in love anymore. But in the end, there has always been a lot of reasons, and there always will be. If texting doesn’t make dating hard, something else always will. I mean, people used to have to date in the absence of shampoo use, and they still powered through. So maybe, just maybe, we can all power through too.
Zakiya has her degree in journalism from Ryerson University and currently works as a freelance content writer based in Toronto. Zak is a dedicated journal-er and enjoys writing and reading fiction, particularly science fiction, in her free time. Mental illness is something that has touched her life and the lives of her loved ones, so she is supportive of anything that brings attention to and provides new perspectives about mental health.