How do we navigate the Wild West of modern-day dating?

I often ask myself, has dating changed... or am l imagining it?


Things are so different since even the 1980s and ’90s. First of all, 'virtual dating' to look for a relationship or a partner didn’t exist. So you met someone out and about in a bar, a club, a gym, or through friends. That can still happen ostensibly, however, even dating sites like pre-existed the day of the swipe!

I would like to add that dating apps have numerous advantages, which l can absolutely see. Convenience - that you can seek a partner in the comfort of your own home, as well as where and when you wish. These apps were also a blessing during the pandemic when virtual connection and contact were our only options when single!

However, somehow from within their arena - as well as the general influence that might have become the norm in terms of the way people treat one another when using this platform - alongside the good, there is also the dark, and the dark needs information around it so that those of us using these digital dating apps can be emotionally as well as physically safe. Heaven help us all!

Here where we are mostly offered, at best, an ephemeral glimpse of normality, the arena is Trojan in its most literal sense. It is something that appears desirable but can contain something harmful. How on point is that? 

In this most profound of resonance we have on offer, someone who we cannot quantify in any way. We don’t know their friends, we don’t know their history and what can be worse still, we don’t know what their true intentions towards us are.

There are, thank goodness, success stories out there. Let us not forget those. They do, after all, give us the hope that keeps us going during the hurtful times of 'ghosting', 'breadcrumbing' and 'love bombing', and the devaluation and discard that inevitably follow. But just to absolutely confuse you further, these are not necessarily linear.

I feel like l need to break for a strong cup of tea just writing this… But putting some kind of information out there to navigate this wildness helps all of us, especially those who are relying on and hoping to meet their special 'one' - yet are without any kind of compass to navigate this rocky terrain!

So, let’s put some order around dating today.

Decide what you are looking for

Not everyone is looking for 'the one'. And if you aren’t for whatever your reason, according to where you 'are' with it all, you are less likely to get burnt. So just ask. Yes, l mean come right out with it! Best to know now because if you are looking for long-term and they aren’t, you are both on different planets from the very beginning.

You might be looking for friendship. Or someone just to share experiences with - think eating out, going to the cinema or attending events together. Perhaps you want someone to have sex with, without relationship involvement. This can be what is now being called a 'situationship'. You both have something 'going', but it doesn’t involve meeting each other's friends or family, or going shopping in Habitat for home décor together.

If it works for both of you, that’s fine because you both know where you are. However, if it is the 'one' you are after, then right from the get-go there are some things to clarify so that you spend less time speculating about it later on.


We are not talking about someone’s choices in restaurants and sofa colours here, but the way they can or cannot talk about their feelings, and what is important to them.

Can they communicate their feelings with ease, or do they even know what they are? Maybe talking about emotions is a no-go zone for them. If you are needing this kind of exchange and they play their cards close to their chest, this will become a problem. Because if you are a person who needs to communicate your feelings, this will be a very important part of what makes you feel comfortable and on track. Equally, if the other person finds this unnecessary and not their thing, they might feel pressured by this and uncomfortable, resulting in inauthenticity on both sides.

These are basically four different attachment types, which can be hard to identify when the thrill of the new attraction is ruling the day. Messages and calls get exchanged without worry until the question of emotion and its content and relevance comes up.

What can l expect and what can be expected of me? Set a filter from the beginning for this. Do some research into the different attachment types.

  • Anxious attachment - AAs need reassurance and contact and tend to be fixers; they become more easily anxious if that message or call doesn’t come in.
  • Dismissive attachment - DAs need space, less contact, and can run for the hills if you make them feel certain things are expected of them. They manage their own emotions alone and more privately and expect you to manage yours in the same way.
  • Fearful attachment - FAs fear betrayal and expect it. They are similar to DAs in the sense they are more introverted emotionally. And they have issues around trust.
  • Secure attachment - These rare birds are so much easier to move forward with as they were very focused upon as children. They have fewer issues in general and are more emotionally straightforward; they assume things are ok and don’t get triggered so easily.

These are very basic bullet points only. I have other more in-depth articles about these types here on the Life Coach Directory. There is also a lot of information out there to read or to listen to. It is worth the time!

It definitely helps for each one of us to know what attachment style we are, and also how we can identify this in others, as confusing behaviour can make much more sense and not be taken so personally.

A balance to be aware of while dating a new person is to remember that people tend to 'just do what they do', and after a couple of weeks or a month or so, they might not feel you’re the right fit for each other but be scared to say.

How they deal with that will be a clue and a marker of their values, not to mention their integrity.

In my view, there is never an acceptable reason to go 'dark' (aka ghosting) on someone you are dating and just disappear with no explanation by not replying or responding to calls, messaging and/or any other method of communication. The other person deserves respect.

If you are left wondering whether the person you’ve been dating has been abducted by aliens because they have out of the blue ceased all communication, you’re not going to be feeling good at all.

It echoes the triggering of some emotional states that are very hard to handle depending on your emotional history and attachment style. Some of these are:

  • bewilderment
  • shock
  • sadness
  • self-questioning
  • rejection 
  • abandonment

Make no mistake, these can prompt mental health issues for even the most self-assured of us. With this many vagaries, you can only do your best out there, however, I’ve found that being 'aware' offers a better chance at navigating your way towards a happier ending. Or hopefully, beginning!

I think the major hurt that can occur is that the person wasn’t who you thought they were, and that you might be feeling irrelevant. Not nice! How they behaved, what they said, and what they did were different. All head-spinning stuff when we might be looking to belong. So how they are showing up in their intention is hugely important to recognise from the start.

Words are lovely. And when someone is both saying lovely things to you and also promising lovely things that match up with where you’re wanting something to go, they can be very seductive. But if they don’t get carried out, you may find yourself feeling it will always be 'jam tomorrow'! Though the day never seems to arrive…

Please remember. It is not what someone says, it is what someone does.

If this statement is all you take from reading this article, then l will have at least made a difference by writing it. This is also how trust is built. 

l also have to mention another warning.

Supposing there has been all the initial congruency, you are both on track, they do what they say. Trust has been established in the early months. Sadly, there is also the possibility that the 'covert' is a predator who skillfully establishes the trust of your heart. But only after this do they suddenly go dark on you, withdrawing and ghosting your Shangri la. And you find yourself alone in your once-shared Eden.

Don’t question this type of behaviour; it has a name and it is confirmed and identified through and by these listed actions below:

  • ghosting 
  • no contact or reply 
  • no calls or messages
  • literally disappearing

These are common signs of narcissistic, or worse, sociopathic behaviour.

Most decent people do not do this, they explain through messages or calling or showing up face-to-face. They do not just disappear, leaving you wondering a thousand things about what might have caused them to quite literally vapourise.

This is cruel, damaging, and extremely violating behaviour. Sadly, as l said before, it is not necessarily linear. This often means they will come back — you fall into their arms because you believe they have 'seen the light'. And then before you know it, it will happen again, and again, and again. Decades can bite the dust here and it's likely you will become an emotional wreck.

I have written a lot of articles on this sad dynamic, as well as supported people in their journey out of it if you wish to investigate this further. It’s a joyous thing to meet someone who could become special to you and to whom you could also become special. But when using dating apps most especially, do protect yourself by learning as much as you can. It helps — awareness always does. While I want you to heed this warning, I want you to remain in the hope that there is someone out there for you too. Hope in romance is so important to all of us!

I’m happy to say that there are still bonds forged as well as couples sharing their lives together. The way we meet people romantically has really changed though, and learning about this can make all the difference.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, N8
Written by Gail Berry, Emotional and Relationship Coach
London, N8

Written by Gail Berry Emotional Coach - both a therapist and an alternative medical practitioner who works with healing people’s core wounds and uses Bach Flower Remedies alongside talking and behavioural therapy to make real change and transformation possible.
07771 715072
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