It is human nature to want companionship. In every culture throughout the world it is the norm to seek companionship, get married and pro-create. For generation after generation it has been a part of who we are to seek a partner in life. It is more than just a societal pressure. It is part of the experience of being human. Whether you look at this from a scientific or a romantic lens, finding a partner in life is a focus for many people. In American culture the wedding business has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The act of marriage has turned into a fanfare with big gowns, abundant food and drink, music, entertainment and months of activities leading up to the actual wedding day. Everywhere we turn, in the media, our families and in our daily lives, we are bombarded with messages of how to make ourselves appealing in hopes of gaining partnership or marriage. No wonder there can be so much stress and anxiety around dating.
Having lived in New York City and Washington DC as a 20-30 something, I have seen women in my personal and professional life face the difficulties of dating and trying to find a relationship in a bustling, metropolitan city. Dating in these cities has been a cause of much frustration, depression, stress and anxiety for women who are navigating through the dating and relationship world. Although this type of stress and anxiety occurs for both men and women, it seems to be more prevalent in women and starts happening at a younger age. Many women that want children start to feel more anxious around dating and finding the right person around the late 20’s because of the time and effort it takes to build a relationship before taking the next steps toward more serious commitment. Even if women don’t want children, their time-line may be a bit different but the need for a caring, stable relationship is still present. Of course dating, relationships and finding a companion are not priorities to all women but for the many women where it is a focus, it can be very difficult being “Single in the City.”
It is wonderful that women have so many more career choices than years past. Women are deciding to have babies on their own if they haven’t met the right person and women are being very selective about choosing the person they want to commit their time to. That being said, with all these choices it also becomes hard to discern who the right person is. This has also been a source of confusion for women. They are often in dating situations where they are unsure of whether or not it should progress to the next level. Commitment in relationships has also decreased from generations past of “going steady” and wearing a pin or letter jacket starting from the first few dates. Getting married right out of college and starting a family right away is no longer the norm. Dating has become a process of discernment and often just having fun. Exclusivity and commitment is not something that is an overt expectation anymore and there is an understanding amongst daters today that you can date around until you have labeled the relationship as exclusive. These changes in the dating world allow us more freedom to choose and to take our time. However, it also creates more questions and confusion.
As a therapist, it is my goal to help my clients who are dealing with confusion, stress, anxiety and depression around these issues better cope with the realities of the dating world and finding the right person. I believe “Single in the City” is a great support group to help women not only see that they aren’t navigating the dating world alone but to help them get to a better place of peace, relaxation, confidence and security around all their decisions in life.
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