The '90s Gave Me Unrealistic Dating Expectations

by Maura O'Malley

I'll be honest: I am that perpetually single gal of my friend group. I would love to say I'm a Chloe from Don't Trust the B**** in Apartment 23 or a Sex and the City Samantha, but I'm not. I am not a sexual fiend beating men at their own game. I'm more of a Penny from Happy Endings, just a good girl looking for love in all the wrong places, like Tinder — Tinder is 100 percent the wrong place for love. It would appear that I have absolutely zero understanding on how modern dating works. Can you blame me though? Growing up, I got some really unrealistic dating expectations from '90s television sitcoms.

When I was younger, I so badly wanted to be Rachel Green. I wanted her hair, her large New York apartment, and most importantly, I wanted my own Ross Gellar. I wanted a boyfriend who owned a monkey, loved dinosaurs, and loved me. Fast forward to the new millennium, and apparently that makes me a "picky dater."

And yes, a lot has changed in the dating world over the past two decades. Romantic relationships are now complicated by social media, online dating, and a widespread aversion to defining the relationship (DTR for those in the know). While some things have become more complicated, the basic mechanics of dating have remained the same. Person meets person, first person says, "hey, I like your face" and the two of them ride off into the sunset for a happily ever after fairytale. The End. Or least that is what television growing up lead me to believe — I am now just beginning to realize that '90s sitcoms may have lead me astray.

Here's how the expectations based on '90s TV differ from the cruel reality of today's dating world:

On And Off Again Relationships

Expectation: You and your soulmate will continually break up and get back together, but eventually you will end up by each other's sides forever.

Reality: They start dating someone else and you find out about it on Facebook. You cry a lot and your next significant relationship is with Charles Shaw. Darn you Facebook.

Meet Cutes

Expectation: You will fall madly in love the first time you see someone from across a crowded room. They will come up and talk to you, and the rest is history.

Reality: Maybe the person will send you a message on Tinder after a match-up, but probably not.

Office Romance

Expectation: You will have an intense will-they-won't-they sexual tension with your co-worker. It is a relationship filled with heated banter, longing stares, and unrequited love that eventually spills over and becomes the best relationship you've ever had.

Reality: There's no sexual tension. The tension you feel is the fact your co-worker actually hates you and is stealing all of your good pens.

Public Declarations Of Love

Expectation: '90s television promoted the idea that huge public declarations of love and adoration are they only way to go.

Reality: If the other person friends you on Facebook, that means that they are publicly acknowledging you.

You Can Stay Friends With Your Exes

Expectation: Since your relationship was built on love, trust, and friendship, you can remain friends with your exes after the romance ends.

Reality: That is a lie. Your ex is a demon spawn and you must eradicate them from all of your social media accounts if you ever wish to experience happiness in your life again. (Sidenote: how do you defriend someone on Goodreads? I'm asking for uh, someone else.)

Your First Time With Someone

Expectation: The morning after, the other person will turn into a total monster, will make your life a living hell, and try to kill all of your friends and family.

Reality: This is actually pretty accurate (minus the killing part). You go, Joss Whedon! #keepingitreal

Dealing With A Break-Up

Expectation: You will cry a little and then collect yourself, because you know new love is just around the corner.

Reality: You will get drunk and call, text, Facebook message, DM, and FaceTime the person for several weeks. It will be embarrassing for all involved.

Bad Boys

Expectation: Bad boys are bad but also fun, adventurous, and will force you out of your comfort zone. They are totally worth the heartbreak.

Reality: They will break your heart, give you an STI, and steal your HBOgo password.

Lesson learned: television is nothing like true life. It's like an idealized version of life where you never get stood up and Luke Perry is in love with you. Oh, what I wouldn't give to live in TV-land.

Images: Warner Bros.; giphy (16)