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Why We’re All Hypocrites When It Comes to Dating

You know that saying your parents’ drilled into your brain since you were a kid: “Treat others the way you’d want to be treated yourself?”

It was simple advice, and something most of us have grown up practicing in our daily interactions with everyone from our barista to our coworkers.

But we don’t do that in dating.

Though we’re set in our views and opinions about many things in life, when it comes to dating, millennials are all a bunch of hypocrites.

Take ghosting, for example.

Ghosting involves the cutting off of all communication in the hope that the person you’re involved with will get the message, rather than being an adult and having a mature conversation, explaining that you’re not into it.

Within the past year, I listened as an anguished girlfriend explained how the guy she had been dating seemed to fall off the face of the earth, yet he was very much alive on social media. “What a jerk,” I told her over cappuccinos. “That’s so lame. How old are we? If you’re not into someone, just tell them.”

But, two seconds after the words came out of my mouth, I realized that I had essentially done the exact same thing to someone (but probably worse) just a few months prior. And no, it’s not something I’m proud of. And yes, it probably felt just as shitty to him as it did to both my friend and myself the last time it happened to me.

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It happens all the time: anyone actively dating in Toronto has a ghosting story.

Shamefully, ghosting is sometimes the easiest way out, especially when you have about 5 million other things to worry about on the daily.

The thing is, since it happens with such frequency in the dating world, despite the fact that we know how much it completely sucks to have it happen to us, we have accepted it as the norm.And we know we could find ourselves on either side of it.

In the early stages of dating, the ideal outcome is that you’re both equally into one another. The thing is, that’s not always the case, and there’s usually one party who is a little more overzealous in his or her attempts at communication.

Over cocktails a few months back, my girlfriends and I flashed our screens in front of each other’s faces to show the series of unanswered text messages from certain (persistent) men who we clearly couldn’t care enough about to text back. “That’s so desperate,” we cried over eye-rolls and sips of martinis. “Why can’t he get the message and move on?”

The irony is, about a month later at brunch, one of the same girlfriends somewhat guiltily revealed she was in borderline stalker territory herself, after sending a series of unanswered texts to a “brilliantly bearded” Tinder catch she was semi-dating.

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Elsewhere in the city, that same guy could very well have been enjoying a brunch with buddies himself, pulling out his phone to reveal her series of novel-like text messages, exclaiming how “crazy” this new girl was he was “hanging out with” for a hot second.

The thing is, he could find himself the “crazy” one after his next Tinder prospect blows him away with her brains and body.

We all want things we can’t have. You push; they pull. It’s simple. We want to know that we’ve worked for it. For that reason, it’s often difficult to tell whether you’re addicted to the chase, or if you truly care about the other person.

We’re even hypocritical in the advice we give others.

By now, most of us are seasoned enough in the dating department to offer some pretty sound advice to friends when it comes to their love lives.

We’ve been there, done that, and hopefully learned from our mistakes (right?!).

“Don’t chase her; you’ll come on too strong,” a guy will say to his buddy. “Don’t get back together with him; you’ll only make the same mistakes twice,” we’ll tell our friend who has been heartbroken before.

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Yet, once we find ourselves in similar situations, we not only refuse to take our own advice, we often do the opposite of the advice we were given by our sympathetic ear-lending friends. Even relationship columnists don’t always practice what they preach when it comes to matters of the heart (I am admittedly guilty).

Sometimes, we simply can’t stop ourselves.

So, why are we such hypocrites when it comes to dating?

When it comes to romantic (and not-so-romantic) situations, there are two powerful forces at work that can lead to irrational behaviour: the heart and the ego.

Sometimes, the two are interchangeable. For example, in the wake of a break-up, it’s often difficult to distinguish between a broken heart and a broken ego.

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Both love and crippling heartbreak can also make you behave in ways that you never thought you could (shudder) – whether it means walking across the city in a blizzard to see them, showing up in tears at their doorstep, or shamelessly crying your eyes out in the back of an Uber on the way to work.

Sometimes, all rationality goes out the window when the brain loses its battle with the passionate heart.

It’s called love sickness, and every once in a while, we’re assured it still exists, even at a time when good, old-fashioned, organic romance is becoming a thing of the past and emotions are increasingly absent from the equation. Speaking of our modern dating culture, many millennials treat our potential love interests as menu items. So, we have subconsciously learned to treat people like disposable options – a factor that could contribute to the whole hypocrite thing.

Maybe we’ve forgotten that people do indeed have human feelings in our ever-connected, emotion-repressed society.

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Erin Davis

Erin is a Toronto-based actor, writer and queen of the side hustle. When she’s not writing the day away in a face mask, she’s taking in the city’s vibrant arts scene, doing a red carpet interview or brunching with her leading ladies. Follow me: @erinnicoledavis