Charge it to the game: new age dating

Roster style dating has taken over the dating realm. Photo courtesy of the Daily Nebraskan

In 2023, what are the odds you’re on a date with someone exclusively pursuing you and only you? Social media exposes an overwhelming number of beautiful people the world has to offer and dating apps provide the satisfaction of denying people outside of our preference while validating our ego with users that make advancements; it’s no wonder the dating scene has drastically changed.  


Merely 20 years ago, you would have had to memorize your crush’s number and hope that they were near the phone when you dialed them.  


Within the Gen Z and Millennial dating culture, members refer to this dating style as “keeping a roster.” The act of acquiring a number of individuals that satisfy some romantic or intimate need without solidifying an exclusive relationship with any of them.  


The “players” of a roster may vary depending on what the “coach” prioritizes in a partner or what they currently lack in their personal life.  


Someone’s love language may be tokens of appreciation which would lead them to have a roster of people that don’t mind spending money on them. A student-athlete who has a packed schedule may seek players who don’t desire to sit on the phone all night but rather someone who can boost their ego and massage their muscles after a game.  


While there’s a companion for physical intimacy and a partner for late-night chats and reassurance, and maybe even an ex that is working up the currency for a second chance all on the starting lineup, where does that leave the coach in determining who is a single player that makes it to significant another status? Most Valuable Player (MVP), if you will. 


Options upon options of gorgeous people from social media are registered by our brains as potential lovers when they are merely people that are next to a figment of the digital world. Still, these are just beautiful humans with whom we may never cross paths. Moreover, it alters how we view the people we know personally because we’ve expanded the spectrum available to singles.  


Has roster dating diminished genuine monogamous romantic relationships? Of course, there’s no harm in avoiding putting all your eggs into one basket, but it’s safe to say that having a roster is equivalent to designating each egg it’s own basket.  


A significant flaw in this dating style is that the players on said roster are only sometimes aware that they are not the only star player in their coach’s life. Of course, it is the coach’s responsibility to be as truthful as possible with their intentions with each player, but sometimes the truth seems to slip people’s minds.  


Some people become so invested in the benefit of having multiple people providing them with love and affection that they have completely moved away from committing to a single person. Occasionally, they may become enthralled with one person, but the urgency to assign a label to the relationship is weary because they are comfortable with the option to escape from the connection anytime for whatever reason. 


How are people supposed to wholeheartedly commit to someone when they internally have one foot out the door?  


There’s been a surge in reality dating shows in the last ten years. At first, the main two dating shows were the Bachelor and the Bachelorette. But now, there’s Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, The Circle, Married at First Sight, and 90 Day Fiancé, to name a few.  


The shows’ purposes vary from people choosing someone based on similarities without viewing their physical form, building a romantic relationship without being able to interact sexually, and, yes, even being married at the moment of meeting someone.  


But the primary goal that each show attempts to accomplish is to bring strangers together and entice them to make a meaningful connection…in front of a camera crew and producers.  


Besides that, people are scavenging for innovative and unique ways to meet the one, but I don’t think the problem is meeting the right person; I believe humans are losing our ability to continue choosing that person every day they wake up.  


We have a million and one ways to meet people and twice as many ways to stay connected and love them in a fashion they’ll understand. But with many options, our eyes are bigger than our hearts. Maybe we take upon the role of a coach because we, too, are scared that nobody will choose us; in return, we don’t choose anybody either. 


So, if you’re feeling discouraged about entering the dating pool again, be advised that despite the roles people take on or games we play, everyone desires to be loved. And the losses and heartbreak we encounter in the midst of it, I suppose we’ll charge it to the game.