Siren to the Rescue #1: Lazy Dater Syndrome

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Siren to the Rescue is an advice column offering guidance on the social complexities of 21st century romance. (Got a question for us? Get in touch!) 

Our first question is from a recent divorcée getting back into the swing of things:

Q: I'm new to the game after many years of marriage and I'm surprised by how lazy men seem to be with dating. They expect us to initiate contact with them, and when we do, they don't respond! Is that the norm in the digital age? If so, maybe I should have stayed with my ex-husband!

A: Wait, you were married to someone who actually responded to your texts and you divorced him? Would you mind inviting him to join Siren? I have a feeling our members would love him!

But seriously, if it makes you feel any better, you're not the first person to notice Lazy Dater Syndrome. While it's common for women to make this observation about men, we hear men talk about it, as well—(as in this hilarious interview with comedian Aziz Ansari)—so laziness seems pervasive, regardless of gender.

There are two huge reasons why dating today might feel different from the dating you're used to:

  1. Shift in Gender Roles
    Not long ago, heterosexual women were routinely told to date according to an arbitrary set of "rules" that imagined gender roles to be biological truths. We were told that men preferred to be the pursuer, and that it was unladylike to be assertive, dominant, or God forbid, ask for what we want. 

    Today, this script has more or less been deemed obsolete, and the result can be a stalemate where both men and women often find themselves unsure of whose job it is to make the first (or next) move. 

  2. Technology 
    Many of today's dating apps seem to claim that it's as easy to meet new people as, say, ordering a pizza. Except, is it really that easy? It might be easy to "like" a profile, but meaningful connections rarely get delivered in 30 minutes or less.

    The good news is that Siren is full of people interested in something deeper than a superficial connection. Our men are not interested in making dating just a game on their phones, and our women are comfortable making their desires known and starting conversations. 

So what can all of us do to help remedy Lazy Dater Syndrome? 

  1. Get comfortable making the first move
    That sounds simple, but it takes practice. There is always a bit of risk involved with putting yourself out there, but the more you practice, the easier it gets. Not every person is right for you, and the sooner you learn who isn't, the better! 

  2. Make a concrete plan in the real world
    Next time you're tempted to say, "Let's get together sometime" why not ask, "Hey, wanna go to this specific art gallery / performance / sporting event this weekend?" Not only does it give you an opportunity to share your hobbies, it's an easier message to respond to because it doesn't put all the responsibility of coming up with an idea on the other person.

  3. Hack your communication habits
    In managing disparate projects, I've come up with a rule for my inbox. That rule is, "always return the serve." When the ball is in my court, so to speak, I try to return it as quickly as I can, so messages don't get stuck in the purgatory of good intentions.

    If someone asks me something and I know the answer is no, I try to let them know as soon as possible so they can continue to make plans without me. If someone asks me a question that I want to come back to when I have more time, I might say, "I'm too busy to form a thoughtful response to this right now, but I like the idea. Let's talk soon!" Sometimes just the tiniest note to acknowledge that a message has been received is all that's necessary to keep the conversation flowing.

  4. Realize that we are all human
    Do the best you can, and assume that others are doing the best they can. We're all busy, we all have our fears and desires, but we're all here because we're looking for something more. It's great to assess what seems to be working and not working and learn from it, but try not to draw discouraging conclusions about yourself or others from that information. Don't give up, hone your game!

Have a dating question for Siren? Send it over!