Alas, all is not well between the sexes these days.
It appears that single men and women are having a great deal of trouble connecting with one another.
There seems to be a curious stumbling block out there in the dating world that’s keeping people from being able to fully enter into and establish true intimacy.
I hear the problem talked about mostly among singles, and by a lot of those whom I see in in therapy sessions. But, strangely enough, I’m not seeing this issue brought up much in the relationship field or on the Web.
So I want to address the hot controversy here, although I think that, at the end of the day, you may end up with more questions than answers.
Here’s some typical statements that I’ve come across related to the subject:
“I just can’t seem to meet a quality person anywhere. They’re all a bunch of immature jerks. ”
“I’ve been doing online dating for two years now, and I’m ready to quit the whole damn thing.”
“Where can I go to meet someone? Bars? I never go to bars. I don’t want to meet someone with a drinking problem!”
“She says she wants a relationship, and then suddenly backs off. I thought she liked me!”
“Guys only want sex.”
“Women are all neurotic bitches!”
“I don’t trust men.”
“I’m so frustrated and fed up, that I’ll probably be single the rest of my life.”
So, what could be prompting all this frustration, anger, and mass disappointment?
This contemporary problem sure raises a lot of questions for me.
A sign of the times?
Are people just not trusting each other like they did years ago, when they’d typically meet at communal places like the church social, date for a few weeks, then get married?
Were people more innocent back then, or are we, in fact, living in significantly more perilous times?
Is life in the 21st Century just too complicated and dangerous to spawn a high level of trust between the sexes?
Is all this mistrust largely a fear thing?
Are more people fearing intimacy these days? And if so, why?
Hard questions, right?
Here are some possible answers…
I believe that this lack of intimacy phenomenon has something to do with current economics.
It seems that more and more people are in survival mode because of the shrinking dollar, the rising power of corporations, and the disappearing middle class.
Let’s face it; people are really stressed out and scared these days.
When the U.S. economy tanked back in 2008, I thought that single people would join together and pool their financial (and social) resources, thus creating more personal connections and romantic partnerships . But, I think just the opposite occurred.
How’s this possible?
Could it be that more and more people are actually pulling back emotionally due to dwindling finances and increasing money pressures, and are subsequently less open to love relationships? Has intimacy taken a back seat to financial survival?
Government greed & indifference
I believe that our government has created a widespread atmosphere of distrust and indifference.
With all the self-centered greed and widespread disregard for the public’s needs, it’s no surprise that people are trusting less these days.
So, it stands to reason, that both men and women might be slower to trust each other when it comes to things like the affairs of love.
Increasing fear & sexual trauma
We hear sex talked about all the time, mainly through the all-powerful and influential media. Here, stories of hot passion, adultery, and mistrust, are dangled in front of the insatiable public, like candy to a ravenous baby.
Yet, at the same time, women are being sexually used and abused at a frightening rate. So, it’s not hard to see that a lot of people, mostly women, have a lot more to fear.
With all the ever-increasing violence and blatant predatory behavior found in so many of our communities today, the world has become a scarier place.
From this ominous prospective, I can really understand a women’s reticence to enter into a new romance without having some serious concerns about her prospective partner’s intentions and, certainly, his integrity.
For better or worse, increased vigilance is the new normal…
Narcissism run riot
Me, me, me…
I want, I want…
From the early days of the “Me Generation” to the current narcissistic ramblings of Self Magazine, self-indulgence and self-entitlement appear to be running rampant.
Narcissism is rearing its ugly head all over the place.
It seems that more and more people are out for themselves, only concerned with their own welfare and precious individuality.
And when an individual can’t see beyond his or her own wants and needs, it becomes virtually impossible to truly share life with another. This is because self-centeredness is the antithesis to the ability to truly love and be loved.
So where did all this mass self-centeredness come from, and when did the accent on concern for the community morph into such a strong emphasis on the self?
Some would say that it’s because of the indulgent way we’re raising our kids. Others would say that the advertising industry, with its almost manic emphasis on personal consumption of “things”, is the real culprit. And still others blame the problem on a lack of religious affiliation, spiritual bankruptcy, addiction, the atheist’s adoration of the self, and sweeping societal apathy.
I’m not sure how or when this this fad of self-worship got started, but it sure can’t be good for any potential love relationships, let alone a happy and fulfilled society.
Does one’s past trauma, whether physical, sexual, or emotional, negatively affect one’s basic openness to love?
Of course it does. Let’s look at the present reality…
Highly traumatized soldiers are returning from meaningless wars in droves. Divorce rates are higher than ever. Sexual abuse and predatory behavior seem to be everywhere.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is on the rise, despite the wonderful research and terrific clinical work practiced by mental health professionals with so many suffering individuals.
And although it’s a good thing that these societal issues are being talked about more and more, past personal trauma and the subsequent (and understandable) vigilance, are keeping a lot of potential romances permanently on ice.
Unfortunately, the terrible fear generated by trauma often overrides the courage needed to risk the rewards of love, thereby dampening any chance for true intimate connection.
A combination of factors?
So, as a seasoned clinician, it’s still not easy for me to pinpoint and single out the exact reason for this sociological problem regarding today’s mistrust and disconnection, this war between the sexes.
But, in all probability, I think the issues addressed above, taken together, may help to explain a lot of the problem.
And this problem is something very near and dear to my heart. I dive even deeper into this topic in my book, Honeymoon Forever, in case you’re interested.
After all, I love it when people meet and enter into meaningful partnerships, because human connection is what makes the world tick – and increased human connection, not alienation, is what will eventually heal it.
So, what’s the solution to this problem?
Stay tuned to my next article where I’ll address my take on the solution…
*If you have some additional thoughts on this hidden war between the sexes, positive or negative, please leave them in the comments section below. Let’s connect!