We live in an addictive world. Whether it's drugs, food, gambling, or Facebook, we all know spending too much time doing "that thing". Some have multiple addictions: drinking excessively, dating multiple people, and eating the sweets the doctor told them to stay away from. It seems that these days, we're all about consuming more … and giving less.
Those addictions are external, though so when it comes to our intern selves, what do we most desire? Love. We want to be loved. To feel the warming affection of another human being is the greatest "I want" of all. More than the ephemeral pleasure of substances or gaining access to the next level in a video game, we want to look in the eyes of another person and feel an ultimate connection — that special place where time and space cease to exist. There is not a whiskey superior, and one hundred likes on a Facebook post fail in comparison to the singular love given by another individual.
Online dating is addictive because there are hundreds or thousands of people who have the potential to love us, each one at our fingertips. They exist on the other side of our computer, so close, yet so far away. Virtually representing a face, but viscerally representing hope.
We find out if "they" want to love us so we browse profiles. "I could be with this person, or that person!", and then 'next page', "Oh look at him!", or "I must write her" (and "her", and "her", and "her" too). What happens is that the dating site becomes a slot machine with human faces. Turn the page, spin the wheel, blink your eyes, a new opportunity arises. You're addicted.
The liquor store closes at 2am, we stop eating when full, but the Internet is always open and chances are your dating site 'remembers' you. You wake up to read emails, and go to bed initiating new ones. The problem isn't online dating; the problem is our lack of discipline to focus on one or two people. We initiate contact with "someone special", until someone even more special emails us ten minutes later. Are people that disposable, or are we chasing a high?
We do this because it feels good. LL Cool J once wrote a song "I Need Love", where he serenades the affection of a young lady. If that song were written today I'm sure he would include the rhyme, "When I'm alone and lonely wishing I had love, I log onto match.com and get all I ever dreamed of". So the real question is this: Do we need love, or do we need to love ourselves?
To really find love, is to find it within. If you have a bleeding heart, putting on a band-aid temporary stops the hemorrhaging, but you'll need hundreds more. Likewise, if you are online dating and plowing through profiles, no infinite number can make you happy if you aren't happy with yourself.
Never has the potential of love been so accessible as it is with online dating. For some this chase is addictive. Years from now if you hear, "I've got 90 days online dating free!”, be supportive because it could be you. We need to be loved, sure, but we also need to love being alone. In those moments, you'll find reasons to love you.
I write about dating in the information age. Please check out my book, "Pray Your Kids Are Ugly" — I think it will be worth your time. Also, many more musings and philsophical opinions on my website: justinkellymcclure.com.
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