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Oxford Stories Column: While We’ve Technologically Advanced, We’ve Relationship Regressed

Sometimes you have to get advice from friends. Photo by T’Keyah Jones.

Remember childhood schooldays when someone special caught your attention? Whether it was their hair, style, snacks they brought from home, or the cute way they smiled, this person stood out.

Did you express your feelings with a note asking, “Do you like me? Check one: Yes or No.”
Now, you can just text, email or DM (direct message) someone without meeting them until you’re ready. Dating has changed.
Let’s address exactly what dating is. The definition of dating is “a stage of romance between two people.” But when you ask a person what dating is, some say, “Being involved with someone and hanging out with them.”
They give examples: “Like you’re with someone that gives you flowers and buys you stuff like clothes, perfume/cologne or whatever.”
We all like receiving gifts, admiration and appreciation from our significant other, but is dating that simple?

Study dates show that you support and encourage your partner. Photo by T’Keyah Jones

Before social media, guys and girls would actually have to run into each other at school, in a store, at a movie, at a park or while hanging out with friends.
One would initiate a conversation, and the two would sit down face to face conversing about any number of topics (i.e. extracurricular activities, hobbies, music).
The conversation allowed you to find out things about each other and determine if you actually saw a future relationship with this person.
Now, in the digital age, all you have to do to find out about a person is identify them on any social media platform (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat.)
You can even go a step further and join dating apps (i.e. Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel) for a casual hookup or meet new people for a serious relationship, all from your fingertips, so you don’t have to leave home.
Today, there’s a new phase used to define a relationship between two people, “Oh, we talk.”
This phrase makes no sense to many people and is often thought of as just another way of saying, “He/she is just a friend.” It’s an ambiguous statement that can show immaturity.
It’s why many men and women go online, read magazines and go to bookstores looking for self-help articles on dating and how to make their relationship better. But we have to know there is a relationship first.
Commitment, ladies and gentlemen, is the glue that solidifies dating. Whether you’re old school or new school, a majority of the population still values monogamy as one of the most essential necessities in dating.
Years ago, if a guy was lucky enough to earn a girl’s phone number and call, he would have to talk to the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the girl and answer the big question, “What are your intentions with my daughter?” with an honest answer.
Now, meeting the parents has become something that the boyfriend/girlfriend has to work for because it really intensifies the meaning of your relationship when reaching the next level.
“I remember that when I first started dating my then girlfriend, now wife Kelly,” my friend Jim Weathers recalled, “I had to meet her father, and he treated her like a princess.
“So when he heard that a knucklehead wanted to date his daughter, he told her to tell me to come by their house at 6 p.m. on Thursday for a family dinner.
“I went, and when he opened the door, I saw a shotgun by his chair and thought to myself ‘Oh God, I’m gonna die.’ Then I just told him the truth about what I really liked about Kelly and why I wanted to date her. After, he just stared at me and told me if I screwed this up, he would hunt me down and kill me.”
Now, Jim applies the same lessons to his granddaughters’ love lives with each young man who tries to date them. He makes the young men dress with dignity and look like a gentleman for dates.
The first date makes or breaks the relationship. Figuring out the perfect date and time, outfit, shoes, accessories, hairstyle and the right perfume/cologne is all part of the first impression.
Coffee break and fresh air. Photo by T’Keyah Jones.

Dates once were Sunday morning walks, carnivals, going to an old-fashioned diner or on a picnic. It was a way to be immersed in the world together, sharing thoughts, ideas, laughs, tears, smiles and enjoying each other’s company.
Now, it’s difficult to go on an “unplugged” date without hearing about who Tweeted this, who shared that, whether this person should have used that filter, the outfit someone wore last night to a party or wanting to post a selfie of the actual date.
Of course, letting others know you’re enjoying the date is great, but it’s also a sign of disrespect to your date because the date is supposed to be about the two of you connecting.
Dating is challenging and takes hard work, but what doesn’t? Whether you’re sitting in the same room together or oceans apart, one has to ask if they are really ready to date, because dating means putting your significant other before yourself, working as partners, sharing secrets and being honest.
It means admitting when you are wrong, being their safe place, pushing each other to achieve goals, dealing with each other’s stubbornness, correcting each other and respecting each other.
If dating was easy, there wouldn’t be any post-breakup songs like Destiny’s Child’s “Survivor,” Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood,” Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone,” Usher’s “U Don’t Have to Call” and Halsey’s “S.O.S” to name a few.
Just like receiving a high school diploma and/or college degree, or getting that great job promotion, you have to be alert, actively listening and unplug from the virtual world when dating.

By T’Keyah Jones
Read more stories like this on Oxford Stories.
For questions or comments, email hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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