How Dating Culture Makes You Desperate

Shani Silver
6 min readNov 11, 2023

You deserve better than “better than nothing.”

Photo by Shani Silver

The modern dating experience is a dumpster fire full of broken glass and angry bees. By now this is common knowledge. I don’t need to hear any more “horror stories” or see any more screen shots on social media. Dating culture has become a nightmare — I’m not on the fence about this. My question is, what impact is this nightmare actually having on single women? I am deeply concerned that it’s training us to lower our expectations until we expect nothing close to what we actually want. I’m worried we’re dating from rock bottom.

When I was still participating in dating culture, each year of my swiped-away singlehood was another “deal breaker” gone. Year after year, I’d lower my standards and expectations, because I thought I had to. I wasn’t finding what I actually wanted, I wasn’t attracting what I actually wanted, so that must mean I need to lower my standards to meet reality, right? What I didn’t know is that dating culture, particularly online dating culture, is not reality. It’s a world build on ones and zeros where consequences go to die and bad behavior gets to breed. Those screen shots you keep taking, horrified by what people (sorry, men) will say and do? Those don’t shock me anymore. Can I believe he said that? YES. What’s harder to believe is that you’re still participating in a dating culture that’s continually letting you down.

If we’re not careful, we can start to date from a place where dating culture itself is driving our wants and standards, rather than us. If we start to believe that a lack of “success” in a terrible dating space means we have to lower our expectations, over and over again, we end up dating from a desperate place, where it’s better to have something than nothing. Quick question for you: How long do you think you’d stay married to your “better than nothing?”

When all my “deal breakers” were gone except one (I will not date a man who has or wants children, you’ll have to pry that one from my cold, dead hands), I was going out with anyone who was willing to respond to my messages. I was telling myself “you never knowwwwww” no matter how blood red the flags were. I knew I wasn’t attracted to these men, I knew we weren’t well suited to each other, I knew I wouldn’t want them and they likely wouldn’t want me…