One of my best friends, Sanam told me that she wants a partner who wants the same things as her.  She wants someone who wants to be in a committed relationship that will lead to marriage, kids, the picture perfect life, but also someone she enjoys to be around, but she hasn’t found that right person.

images (1)I’m sure you are all asking these questions right now…Is she too picky?  Where is she meeting people?  What can she change?  Whether the answer is yes or no, it does not change the fact that dating today has become a giant game of Jenga.

Each person you date is equal to one block.  For the first few blocks you pull, the entire game is still stable. As you carve your way through all the people you choose to date: The bad boy, the heart-breaker, the casual fling, the nerd, the workaholic, the one that got away, and the list goes on, you are one step closer to being the person who is responsible for knocking the tower down. Each block is one more you can’t get back, just like the time or emotions you spend with each wrong person.

Just like in Jenga, you have to be smart about which blocks you choose and have a strategy.  Same as in dating, you have to be strategic of who you date.

It shouldn’t be so hard to find someone who wants that right?  There is always some obstacle that prevents your happily ever after.  Sometimes, it is wrong timing.  Other times, I hear girls say that things didn’t work out because they were on two different paths.

Why is it that our parents did it and we just can’t?  Her answer: She was born in the wrong era, when chivalry wasn’t completely dead.  I laughed at her and said, in some sense that’s true, but there are pros and cons dating during our parent’s generation versus ours.

I asked Karen this question.  Why is it that dating has become so convoluted, so messy, so hard that at times people just like many of my girlfriends and co-workers have thrown their hands up in the air and said, I decided to be single forever.

images (2)Her answer: the rules and expectations of dating has changed. Society has created an impossible image for women to live up to.  Women today are taught to be independent and self-reliant.  We are educated. We have careers and a handful are high level executives and some are even CEOs.  Even with a demanding job, there are so many expectations that men have of their perfect woman.  And in the metropolitan areas filled with extremely talented men, the bar is even raised higher in a city like New York or DC filled with talented women. If they can’t find what they are looking for, it’s too easy for them to simply move on to the next well-put together girl.

We are not in the 1950’s when the man “brought home the bacon” and women were expected to run the household and raise the kids.  Karen said, dating has become hard for both men and women.

The expectations of keeping old-fashioned expectations like what their mom’s did for them growing up, but mixing in the expectations of the modern day independent woman is creating something unrealistic that they keep chasing for. Even if the woman meets 90% of the check-list, they will move on until they get 100%.

Women on the other aren’t necessarily looking for someone who is just a provider.   In most cases, we can support ourselves.  As we date, we look for someone who is a partner, a best friend, someone to share a life with.  We don’t need them in the same sense that the baby boomer generation did.  A man now has to offer more than a solid paycheck to make us commit, but as part of the package, we still want someone who can and wants to provide.  Again this is due to the melding of the expectations that we watched as our father’s took care of the family financially and did all the laborious jobs outside, but because we have our own income, we want to be able to do what we want too. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

download (2)She said, in our parent’s generation, the man was the bread-winner and the woman took lesser role in the financial piece.  The man was in charge of the household and the woman was more dependent on them for many aspects in their life.

Now, not only do women work full-time jobs to contribute to the family income, but their checklist is just as demanding. They expect the woman to stay in shape. Be beautiful and sexy, a little devious in the bedroom, but a perfect could-be politician’s wife in the public eye. They want a woman who cook gourmet meals, run all the errands, can keep the house spotless, while being able to talk about world issues and keep their mind stimulated.

We are expected to be able to be a party host, manage the family social calendar, and eventually be the perfect mother.  This is nearly impossible in this day and age.  As times have changed, we have changed.  Unlike our parents, more women are making a career one of their top priority, if not their top, so with that comes less time to spend on the relationship and the family unit.

Life wasn’t as challenging as it is now either. Every day is a battle with traffic, the cost of living is higher, the expectations for wants versus needs has grown and many of us run the household without the help from anyone else.  I remember growing up, we had very helpful neighbors since we didn’t have family around.  They would help baby-sit us, we had a neighborhood carpool, and my parents felt safe with me at school.  You’ve heard the term, it takes a village to raise a child. We simply don’t live in an era where that is possible.  Many times, you don’t even know the neighbors next door, other than a nod once in a while, let alone drop off cookies, do neighborhood block parties, and play dates.

I wish there was a simple answer, but the term “it’s complicated” describes love in the modern era perfectly.  Both men and women have unrealistic expectations at times and they go through block after block trying to find the perfect one. Some of us are lucky to find love after just a few blocks, others get to the point where almost nothing is left and a slight wind could knock the whole tower town, while others may never find someone and call Jenga.


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