Dating in the Age of Instant Gratification

instant-gratificationThese days, it seems everything is about the “here and now”. Impulsive behavior has taken over. I know I’m a very impulsive person and that has led me to make some very poor choices in my life, particularly when it comes to dating and sex. People who are impulsive typically don’t like waiting so they choose immediate rewards and “feel good” activities only to regret it later. Patient people, on the other hand, see their rewards coming later because “good things come to those who wait.” According to research, “For impulsive individuals who repeatedly make decisions that satisfy their current desires at the expense of their future needs, the negative effects on their health can be significant.” That’s very true. I know from my own self. Being impulsive has hurt me significantly. I need to “feel good now” and will deal with the consequences later … but, that’s where the problem lies. I have learned the error of my ways but have noticed, through my work with single people, and with my dating experience, that people generally dislike waiting for the good thing. That is why, for me, and for countless others, dating in the age of instant gratification is quite difficult.

Dating in the Age of Instant Gratification

We want it all and we want it now! And why not? We deserve it don’t we? We shouldn’t have to work hard for it, it should just come to us. It’s our right! Besides, if I don’t get what I want from one person or thing, someone else will give it to me and then on to the next! Right? WRONG!!! According to scholars, “instant gratification is one of the things that keep us from long-term fulfillment.” By our wanting to satisfy our urges immediately, we lose what we hope to achieve in the long run. We are being reactive rather than proactive with our life and our decisions. Essentially, “the only problem with instant gratification is that in the end, it doesn’t give us what we really want, and in most cases it actually keeps us from deeper longings we wish to fulfill.” Story of my life. In my effort to not care and just be happy and do what I want I have ended up exactly where I didn’t want to be. Mind you I’ve learned so much in the process, but, did my impulsiveness and desire for instant gratification do more harm than good? Well, I’m starting to think so. 

There is a false sense of “options” and choice when it comes to dating and social media these days. I’ve spoken about that before, however, it also translates into actual dates. Everyone wants to have sex right away and “hook up” thinking that they don’t care and it won’t affect them. They’re sexually aroused at that moment in time and the person they are with is irresistible so they figure why the hell not, what do they have to lose? Well, chances are they lost their chance at a relationship with that person, sorry to say. I’ve been there, done that, more times than I’d like to admit. In the beginning I didn’t care because I was recently divorced and didn’t want a relationship with anyone, I just wanted to be wild and free, but then as a result ended up in a multi-year love affair with the wrong person, with whom I had an undeniable connection, as did he, who did nothing but love and hurt me at the same time … what do they call it? “La Douleur Exquise” which is “the heart-wrenching pain of wanting the affection of someone unattainable“. Even if you have their affection and you have their love you don’t have them. I often wonder, if I wasn’t so impulsive and wasn’t looking for instant gratification when I met him would I have still connected with him? I guess I’ll never know.

“What’s In It For Me?” Dating

Everyone wants to be happy and feel good about themselves, about their lives, they want to be wanted. I get that. Trust me, I get that. But it’s all about ego. Instant gratification is all about ego. It’s all about the moment. Dating in the age of instant gratification is the same. In order to combat loneliness we go out with whoever asks us, we have sex with whoever we want, whenever we want, we use people because they meet our immediate needs without any thought to the impact we’re having on them and their lives. Dating in the age of instant gratification is all about selfishness … it’s all about “what’s in it for me?”. If I don’t get what I want then I’m on to the next. Why give someone a chance if I “don’t feel it”. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly guilty of this. I want the long term rewards but I want them now and I want them with who I want. If someone doesn’t fit into the mold that I want them to fit in, if they don’t meet my expectations then I’m on to the next. But I’ve realized how wrong I’ve been and I’ve changed significantly. Live and learn, right?

From Reactive to Proactive Dating

When you sacrifice instant gratification, you get so much more in return, you get your long term goals. How? Because you start dating thoughtfully. You put some actual thought into your dating process, what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with. But, there is the danger of putting TOO much thought into it and analyzing everything, I’m not saying do that, but, I’m saying don’t be reactive and impulsive either. Take the middle path. For example, just because someone didn’t return your message right away doesn’t mean they never will … a reactive response would be to keep messaging them until they finally answer, by which time you’ve probably lost them … a proactive response would be to wait until they return your message and if they don’t respond at all, you can try once more casually and then let it go and move on. Do you get what I mean? The same goes for sex, unless you’re only looking for a casual sex encounter, keep it in your pants until you know their true intentions. Get to know them before getting intimate. Remember, safe sex is physical, mental and emotional. Don’t do anything without being fully aware of the consequences. Impulsive dating and sex, or dating in the age of instant gratification can have a lasting effect on you, so be smart about the choices you make. I know I have learned to be (although I do get myself into a little trouble now and again ;)) In the mean time … enjoy the dating process!

Readers, what do you think? Do you agree that dating in the age of instant gratification is hurting our chances at love? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

Your Sister in Dating Bliss,

Single Dating Diva

Copyright Single Dating Diva

19 comments

  1. Another great article! It feels like you are writing about me! In the past 6 months I met a man who was absolutely unattainable, he loved me and hurt me too! I thought I was all about ‘being in the now’, ‘living life’, we did have some fun times, most often when it was just the two of us together, however ultimately all I did was compromise myself, we got into swinging and couples and anything else he wanted to do, I went along with it thinking I was just having a good time. With hindsight all it did was destroy me and it destroy any possibility of a relationship. Not again … I know I’ve behaved without due care for myself, I won’t do it again.

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  2. The younger generation is becoming one of “continuous gratification”…there has to be massive chemistry on the first date…if you disappoint them or they stop “feeling it”…then, poof, you’re gone…easily and quickly replaced by another pretty face on a dating site…

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    • You know what, it’s not only the younger generations looking for “massive chemistry”, it’s people of every age. Everyone’s looking for the “thunderbolt” … it’s unrealistic and unpractical.

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  3. Right on Suzie!….. I can’t tell you how many times I have exchanged messages with women on the dating sites, with them just going POOF after a few e-mails. Guess they were too much in a hurry to find that instant boyfriend, lover or soul mate. People of all ages are just too much in a hurry to connect these days. I don’t mean you have to exchange e-mails for weeks and weeks. I did have a lady go POOF on me recently, on a dating site. I checked her profile to see if it was still there, and learned she had “found the special one”, and wanted to explore the connection. Well, within a week she was active and ready to move on…….. Not with me.

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  4. I agree but will cite a different thing that I noticed when I was dating. So many people expected to have instant chemistry with someone and if it wasn’t there, then there was no reason to want to see the other person again. I agree that having chemistry with the other person is very important, but there are times when it isn’t “love at first sight” all of the time. Maybe you had a bad day at work and your not on your A game or the other person is nervous and as a result isn’t their best. Unless they are a total disaster or you have absolutely zero interest in them, why not give it a second date to see if things are different?

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    • Thanks Don! You’re right, people look for “love at first sight” or “instant chemistry” and keep walking if they don’t feel it right away when in reality sometimes it takes time to build.

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  5. What would your advice be for someone who does get emotional at times but is looking for casual no strings attached sex? Do you think it’s possible to do so without any emotions getting in the way? If so, how would you keep them at bay?

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    • I have had two fbs for three years, both of them are purely sex. They are both good men, respectful, great fun to be with. The boundaries with both a clear, there is no intimacy it is purely sex. We chat on arrival, find out where we’re up to in life but not in any depth, and then we get into it. The sex is great. Afterwards there is no intimacy. We lay side by side talking, not touching. I don’t overnight. So you would think it is easy….. And with both men it is because the rules are clear and followed by both parties ( me and eachf them, I see them separately!) Take it from me it works if you keep it purely on a physical basis. The minute you allow intimacy to be involved, personalising it , cute names, anything in public, it is doomed – I’ve just been through it and thought I knew how to play the game, I did, he didn’t, I was burnt badly. The minute you start to have feelings either reassess and reclassify the relationship and if he doesn’t want to become serious walk away … Fast !!

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    • If you are the type of person who gets emotionally attached easily, you will be hurt, don’t do it, it isn’t worth the pain.

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    • I would suggest you stay away from casual sex encounters if you cannot have unemotional sex. You either can or can’t do it, sounds like you are unable to do it. I would suggest you stay away from casual sex encounters. You are who you are, don’t try to be someone you’re not.

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    • I completely agree DIP! You either have chemistry or you don’t but you shouldn’t expect fireworks each and every time, that could lead you to pass up a really great opportunity!!

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  6. Great article Suzie, good food for thought. I’ve been guilty of dating this way, but at the time it was exactly what I wanted and needed. I think that instant gratification dating has it’s purpose and sometimes you just need to get out there and be selfish! When you’re ready for a real relationship, you’ll change the way you do things without even thinking about it.

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  7. Instant gratification is the problem with society period! No one wants to work or invest in anything. They want what they want on a silver platter without earning anything. I think that it all started with soccer mom/dad giving kids “participation trophies.” You either win or lose. The person who works hardest usually wins, but that’s becoming a thing of the past. That’s why some idiots have more YouTube hits than most people who actually possess a talent.

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  8. Love this post because it is so true. I think it’s important to remember how fulfilling the long-term potential with someone can be. When we’re in a good place in our lives we can bring a lot of qualities to a relationship and we deserve those things from someone in return. Relationships aren’t easy though, and they take a lot of work. I’m curious on your thoughts about small ways to add a little “instant gratification” to a long term relationship…to fulfill that natural desire we all possess…without negatively affecting our relationship.

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