“Every time I date, I remember why I don’t date,” Karlie says. “It’s so stressful. I’d rather be home curled up on my sofa relaxing.”
Mira had a different reason. “I don’t want to get hurt. Relationships are so sticky. You’ve got to take on someone else’s problems. I’d rather just focus on my own life right now.”
Karlie and Mira are twenty years younger than me, but I get exactly where they’re coming from.
Dating is stressful. Relationships are sticky. It’s so easy to get hurt.
So why do it?
The world of intimate relationships is transforming…
And the future is looking shockingly lonely.
You’d think that with the explosion of dating apps, love would be at everyone’s fingertips. There are more American singles today than at any time in history. Social mores have collapsed, and anything goes.
So why are more and more young people choosing not to date?
Generational scholar Jean Twenge has an idea.
She believes that the generation growing up now, which she dubs “iGen,” is more averse to taking emotional risks than past generations.
They don’t want to get hurt. They want to have all their ducks in a row before they commit to someone. They know that marriages don’t always work out.
But what makes this generation REALLY different is that they’re spending more time on electronic devices than with people in person…
Leaving them more comfortable with solitude and less skilled at the social nuances of real-life relationships.
If you’ve ever dated a guy in IT, you know what I mean.
When someone spends most of his day in front of a screen, locked in his own head, he develops a taste for his own company. He can disappear for hours, playing video games or holed up in his room. He may long for love, just like anyone, but be unwilling to do the work of inviting another living human being into his personal paradise.
And why should he? The online world provides a satisfying substitute for human interaction.
When it’s just you and an electronic device, you get to control how you present yourself. You can mull over the perfect turn of phrase before pressing send. If you get fed up, you can just turn it off.
That’s nothing like real-life relationships, where you’ve got to show up as who you are instead of who you want to be. You don’t get time to think. Once you’re sitting down in front of another person, you’re in it for the duration. No getting up, turning the person off, and walking away … unless you want to be majorly rude.
No wonder 1 in 3 people on online dating sites have never actually gone out on a date with anyone they’ve met. It’s safer to stay online.
Online, you set the terms of engagement. You chat with people when you want to chat. If you don’t like someone, you just ignore them.
Perhaps that’s one of the reasons behind ghosting.
We’ve lost our taste for the messiness of breaking up. It takes a great deal of courage and tact to tell someone you don’t want to see them anymore. Why bother, when you could just disappear?
Today, if you go out on a date with someone you met online, his silence tells you there won’t be a second date. He doesn’t bother to text you. He doesn’t say, “It was nice meeting you, but we’re not right for each other.” He just never contacts you again.
These trends are having a major impact on the future of marriage.
I’ve got to share with you a statistic from Twenge’s book that made my jaw drop:
By 2014, more 18- to 34-year-olds were living with their parents than with a spouse or romantic partner.” 
We assume the decline in marriage is due to more and more young people hooking up or moving in together, but that’s not the case. Instead, they’re choosing to go at it alone. They’re even having less sex than previous generations. It’s too risky.
Young people today are highly aware of the risks of pregnancy and STDs. They’re even more concerned about the emotional connection that comes with sex. What if they sleep with someone … and they fall in love? The pain of longing for someone who sees you as nothing more than a hook-up is too much to bear.
Luckily, electronic devices provide a “safer” alternative. Sexting and porn are on the rise. Why intimately connect with another human being when you could do so with the safe distance of a screen between you?
Twenge concludes wryly, “All in all, iGen’ers are increasingly disconnected from human relationships—except, perhaps, with their parents.”
What does that mean for you?
If anything, it’s a reminder that technology can’t save us from the pain and messiness of human interaction.
Yes, dating is a lot of effort and often for nothing.
Yes, rejection hurts.
Yes, falling in love with someone who doesn’t return your feelings is painful.
But those feelings help us grow. We can’t gain the experience we need to be successful at relationships without stumbling and falling a fair bit. Protecting yourself from hurt deprives you of the lessons.
So keep going. Of course it’s nicer to sit on your sofa in your pajamas than sit across from a complete stranger making small talk.
But, as Glennon Doyle says, we can do hard things.
We’re brave enough.
Resilient enough to bounce back from hurt.
P.S. There’s another reason men pull away. Sometimes they do it because of their attachment style. Your Brilliance expert author James Bauer explains the push-pull dynamic of rocky relationships.
 Jean Twenge, iGen (New York: Atria Books, 2017), 222.