17/02/2017 10:51 GMT | Updated 18/02/2018 05:12 GMT

Modern Dating And The Fear Of Settling

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The term modern dating is thrown around online with zeal, its interpretation fitted to suit each writer's needs.

For me, it isn't so much about the tools required, but about the attitude around it. Maybe it was my age, but before I was single this time round (we're looking at pre-2011 here), dating went like this:

1. Find someone you like

2. Ask said someone on a date (cinema, Pizza Express, Nandos if you were really lucky)

3. Ask said someone to be your boyfriend/ girlfriend

Nowadays, the process is somewhat more complex. You find someone; although not necessarily someone you like, because dating in 2017 is also about wasting time, fighting boredom and getting laid. You talk for a bit, and if all goes well, you go on a date. This can end in several ways; in bed, with plans for a second date, ghosting/ being ghosted, an amicable ending (possible, but unlikely).

And so the process continues, with most people 'dating' more than one person at a time - you don't keep your eggs in one basket in 2017. You might be on a pre-first date with one guy, and a third date with another, all in the same week.

Modern dating is like a game now; sure there are people who are in it to find their forever half, but even they are unlikely to stick to the three step, pre-tinder date process of getting into an official relationship. More likely, they will date the same person without ever agreeing that it's 'official' or 'exclusive'.

Both partners know that they like each other, and it's pretty much a relationship, but it never gets brought up and made 100% definite. IMO, there are two reasons behind this: the fear of being rejected, and the fear of settling.

The fear of being rejected is simple: it's easier to think, "well we're basically exclusive so why bring it up", and therefore avoid an actual rejection, than ask and potentially get a "I thought we were just having fun" vibe response.

The fear of settling, and this is something I suffer from, is a bit meaner. It's selfish, actually. If you're never in an official relationship, you don't have to stop looking for an upgrade. There might be fitter, funnier, cooler people out there waiting for you to date them. If you accidentally fall into someone's bed thanks to pure lust, it's okay because you're not exclusive - sure, you practically are, but you're not really.

It's much easier to break things off with someone who isn't your actual boyfriend or girlfriend, than it is someone you're seeing. No Facebook announcements, no need to tell anyone but your closest friends. If someone asks, you can shrug it off: "Oh we kind of phased out". It's easier to downplay something you always said wasn't serious, even if it basically was.

Modern dating has made us more shallow, more picky; we think there is a whole horde of 8s, 9s and 10s out there for our choosing - isn't that what tinder is for? Swipe left, swipe left, oh, he's a hottie - swipe right.

We're constantly comparing our current dates to past, present and future options, and by result could be throwing away a potential real life match. Is it worth trading someone who makes you smile against your will right now, for a pair of potential - read: not guaranteed - abs in the future?

Of course, it's easier said than done. Weren't we taught to aim for the very best? We want our class mates and Facebook friends to know we can get the crème de la crème of boyfriends and girlfriends. Why settle for a Charizard, when you could potentially get a ~shiny~ Dragonite. It's unlikely, but it could happen right? Right???

As someone who is pretty good at holding people at arm's length romantically, and losing out on genuine relationships because I'm holding out for someone better, let me tell you - something better probably doesn't exist. There will always be pros and cons, better looking guys and funnier girls. With however many billion people there are in the world, you're not lacking for potential suitors. It's just, you're not looking for a potential suitor; you're looking for a reason to never settle, and one day you'll look back at what could have been a perfect relationship, had you not cared about their slightly wonky smile or tendency to laugh like a literal donkey, and you'll realise you've wasted however long chasing an idea that is just that; an idea.

I'm not saying settle for anyone, I'm saying it's not settling if you like them, even if they're not perfect.