We live in interesting times. The world has always been in constant flux, but the rate of change has been accelerating to an incredible pace in recent years. Technology and the internet have reshaped the social and industrial spheres of civilization. Even modern dating is nearly unrecognizable to someone born 70, 50, or even 30 years ago.
Romance used to be one of the most timeless elements of culture. Love poems written long ago still rang true through the ages. In the past century, though, human relationships have undergone several revolutions.
Romantic Revolutions: Love in the 20th Century
It’s impossible to understand modern dating without going back to, well, pre-modern dating. Traditional tropes and roles in romance formed over centuries or millennia, but the 20th century marks the closest cultural touchstone when most of us were exposed to them.
The 20th century was defined by rather stilted, well-defined courtship rituals. Dating was largely preordained, with specific stages dictated by social acceptability and enforced by relatives. Many marriages were arranged by parents, to some degree.
Men and women didn’t enter or experience relationships on an equal footing. Men were cast into the role of providers and judged largely by their ability to do so. On the other hand, women were mothers and wives, judged on their looks, chastity, and dutiful home-making.
It’s within the confines of this very rigid setup that cinema and television were born. They thrust upon mankind an endless parade of iconic scenes and unforgettable dialogue. While some productions challenged the status quo, the vast majority embraced and cemented it.
At the same time, technology was starting to set off the first modern revolutions. From nuclear panic to room-sized computers and men on the Moon, the 60s was a decade that challenged our view of the world. It was also a time of women’s, civil, and gay rights advocacy.
The sexual revolution would soon follow. As we shed many concepts about what men and women need to be, our dating conventions started to be questioned. Can a woman propose to a man? Should a man pay for every date? Can two people of the same gender get married?
By the end of the century, modern dating was a hodgepodge of traditional views, progressive attitudes, and hedonistic behavior. It was at this point that the internet (and the free dating site) burst into the scene.
Modern Dating: Love Goes Real & Digital
The new millennium brought with it the World Wide Web, and myriad changes to just about every aspect of life. Simultaneously, social views and attitudes have evolved at breakneck speed. The world is more open than ever before in history.
With less rigid expectations in society, people are freer now to explore themselves and who they want to be. Gender and sexuality now have a flexible dimension. This has dramatically affected modern dating. These dramatic upheavals have also left many reeling in confusion.
In the late 2000s and early 2010s, modern dating became the epicenter of a new moral panic: “hook-up culture.” The much-maligned trend, purported to end love and relationships, was spearheaded by the first mobile free dating site apps with geographic matching features.
Culture-shocked and traditionally-minded singles weren’t left out of the digital revolution, though. Many free dating site platforms sprung forth to service particular niches. The convenience and expediency of digital solutions were too much to pass up for all but the most ardent Luddites.
Some changes cut across the board, though. The importance of being real is one of them. Modern dating largely hinges on forming real connections between people. People use dozens of labels to offer a glimpse into their souls, hoping to find someone who’ll love and accept them.
Whether you’re looking to live a traditional, fairy-tale courtship, or interested in a more unscripted romance, free dating sites have something for everyone. The ease of filtering matches and finding people looking for the same things you are is a definitive advantage.
At the same time, it can be challenging to navigate for the uninitiated. Anyone joining the modern dating pool today, after 15, 10, or even 5 years “off the market,” is in for an uprooting.
Tips for Finding Love in a Free Dating Site
If you’re struggling to make sense of modern dating, you’re not the only one. Here are a few key tips regarding free dating site etiquette to help you survive.
Get Right With Your Past
The first thing you need to do if you want to succeed in the dating world today is getting right with your past. We all carry emotional baggage around with us, from our childhood, our past relationships, our dreams, and our frustrations. You need to acknowledge and process all of that.
In the past, it was rather standard for people to simply ignore their experiences and emotions. Going into a relationship, we all expected to find unseemly bits in the nooks and crannies of each other’s personalities. This is why most people largely avoided looking in the first place.
Nowadays, that approach simply doesn’t fly. The truth is, your emotional baggage shapes your everyday conduct, particularly in the context of a relationship, whether you realize it or not. Trauma that isn’t dealt with rears its head at the worst of times, hurting those around them.
Before you set out to become someone else’s beau, deal with your own issues. Process your losses, accept your frustrations, think about your past relationships and learn from them. And most importantly, don’t expect anyone else to swoop in and help you heal your wounds.
Free emotional labor is no longer in vogue. Do the work first, join a free dating site (like Mingle2) later.
Keep It Real
Keeping it real is not just slang for straight-shooting, it’s an all-in-one philosophy for romance. To “keep it real” means not to engage in any falsehood. That means not misrepresenting yourself, being open and accessible to others, and being honest and straightforward when you talk.
The opposite of “keeping it real” in the free dating site world would be the catfish—someone who deliberately presents themselves as an entirely different person, complete with a fake name, profile pictures, and even phony personalities. Needless to say, they’re wildly unpopular.
Never be a catfish. And that includes extended definitions of the term. For example, if you’re 50, uploading only pictures from 20 years ago is virtually self-catfishing. Using a lot of filters to obscure your true looks is also widely considered a red flag. None of that is real.
Instead, you need to allow yourself to be vulnerable. That’s not easy, as opening up your real self means that you can be hurt much more deeply. Be willing to show potential partners what you truly are, even if that might make rejection sting a lot more.
Don’t Overthink Your Profile
A common mistake for first-time free dating site members is overthinking their profiles. A modern dating profile needs to be a simple introduction to who you are and what you’re looking for. It shouldn’t be a laundry list of requirements or trying to make up for your insecurities.
Simply tell the world a few basic facts about yourself and a handful of interesting conversation starters. There’s no need to write paragraphs or give people your whole life story. Talk briefly about yourself, your hobbies, and what you care about. Passion is always palpable!
Don’t try to cast a broad net by keeping your profile overly vague or general. At best, it keeps people from knowing if they want to form a bond with you. At worst, it comes off as downright dishonest. So, don’t overthink your profile much. Let it sound the way you sound offline.
If you’re always cracking jokes, adding humor is keeping it real. Or you’re a bit shy and don’t like talking about yourself much, you can go ahead and say that. If you’re bursting at the seams with things to say and can’t find a way to stay quiet, that makes for an endearing admission.
Don’t Play Games
In 2021, playing games is a thing of the past, best left for teenagers and toxic relationships. Modern dating is about honesty and mutual appreciation. Say what you mean, and mean what you say. There is no room for playing any kinds of games. That goes for online dating too.
For decades, popular culture portrayed the dating scene as, in essence, the art of knowing and playing the same games. Romantic chemistry was portrayed as a fortuitous match between “playing styles,” with a sort of “fun” but rather adversarial dynamic between partners.
In the modern dating scene, playing games is typically regarded as a red flag. No longer do we hold off on calling someone after a good first date to “play it cool.” If you enjoy spending time with someone, you let them know. No needless vagaries, no mincing words. Straight-shooting.
This is a common pitfall for people rejoining the dating pool after a long time off the market. It’s normal to default to old ways of thinking, acting, and courting when we’re nervous. Fortunately, online dating means you don’t have to type a message on the spot. Take your time.
That leads us to the next tip: be patient. It’s crucial that you take your time and do things right. Rushing a relationship has never been a good idea, but it’s even less wise when it comes to online dating. For people to feel appreciated, you need to give them the time they need.
It’s also important that you give yourself the time you need. Even if you’re lonely, rushing into a relationship involves a lot of commitment. You don’t want to get heartbroken due to your own impetuousness. A healthy relationship needs to form slowly, at a natural pace.
Get to know each other. Don’t simply ask the usual questions like you’re ticking items off a list, either. You need to be genuinely interested in your potential partner. Being authentic matters more than you know. You can’t pretend to be patient, you have to really mean it.
Each mode of communication has unique rules of etiquette. You start letters a certain way, pick up the phone with a certain greeting, and so on. There are unspoken rules of online behavior as well. A big rule of online dating that a good chunk of people breaks is “no ghosting.”
Ghosting means suddenly ceasing communications with a potential romantic interest without offering any explanations, or even a parting word. Unimaginably rude in other times and other forms of communication, ghosting is increasingly common in online dating and social media.
That said, it definitely shouldn’t be commonplace. Part of being mature enough to be in an adult relationship is having emotional responsibility. Own up to your actions and treat people with respect. However, there are exceptions to the rule—namely, issues of safety.
If you feel unsafe or threatened in any way during a conversation on a free dating site, you have every right to walk away without owing anyone any explanations. Ghosting is about wanting to avoid awkward conversations, not about protecting yourself from mistreatment.
Modern dating may seem intimidating from the outside. However, once you get your toes in the water, it’s actually quite inviting. Tiresome tropes and performative theater are increasingly unpopular. There’s more room to breathe, get to know each other and find true love.
If you haven’t joined a free dating site yet, it’s time to give it a go. Platforms like Mingle2 offer specialized services for a range of general and niche populations. Everyone deserves to be loved, and online dating is one of the most effective ways for people to find each other.