“Wait, what guy is that again?” my best friend asked me with a confused look on her face as I opened Tinder to show her a photo of my latest love interest, who two weeks later I would not even be able to remember the name of. Despite what you might be thinking, I am not some elite charmer of the male species. I am completely and entirely single, but I have had just had so many “something turned nothings” that my erratic dating record has become near impossible to keep track of. After a slew of bad first Tinder dates, one of which included a guy telling me about his “completely unwarranted” restraining order on his ex-girlfriend, I had just about given up on the whole idea of modern day dating completely.
So why does the millennial generation suck so much at dating? I couldn’t help but wonder after a lengthy phone call from my best friend after her second date of the day. She was telling me how they had got into a heated discussion over dinner as to why our generation struggles with commitment. Her date, Jamie believes we are now amidst a generation where “girls want to experience everything and then only settle down when they’re 29-30.” Although his statement was slightly sexist and disregarded men in the equation completely, I could still see some truth to what he said. After some research, I found the number of women without partners in their 30s has almost doubled since 1986. Although there is nothing wrong with settling down at a young age and I have many friends in happy relationships that have done so, it seems the majority of women are choosing to put love on the backburner and focus on personal and career aspirations instead.
Since the astronomical success of Tinder launching in 2013, and its controversial approach of swiping left or right to someone purely based on looks and geographical proximity, there has been an outbreak of dating apps hitting the market. Apps such as Hinge, and Coffee Meet Bagel advertise themselves as the ‘anti-Tinder’ of the online dating world, only permitting one match per day, with 24 hours to initiate a conversation. Bumble takes a different approach again, as it hands the power over to females, who are the only ones who can initiate conversation with matches. With such a diverse pool of dating apps catering to all methods and styles, it would appear the millennial generation has a greater chance of meeting someone than ever before, but in reality, it may be doing more harm than good. With social media playing such a prominent part in the lives of young adults the options seem limitless, and gives us the often-false illusion that we could be doing better than what we already have. It seems the accessibility to such a wide variety of dating portals has caused our generation to become lazy with dating. Young people have grown so accustom to texting instead of having real conversations and stalking a crush on social media instead of getting to know the person in real life, that we’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually date.
In the How I Met Your Mother episode ‘Mystery vs. History,’ society’s prevalence of stalking your date on social media before you meet them in real life is explored. In the episode, the audience is able to see how Ted is deterred from meeting several dates after finding out unappealing information about them online. Upon meeting Janet, he makes a deal with her to not do any prior internet research on each-other before they have their date. “It’s just you know, like, when my parents met, they didn’t have the Internet, they just went out on a blind date and fell in love.” He then goes on to say “the point is, I’d love to get to know you in person, not on my computer.” Their first date is a success, but before their second one Ted is unable to resist temptation and looks Janet up online, finding out not only is she extremely wealthy but has several personal and career accomplishments to her name. As a result, Ted becomes very nervous and intimidated around her and Janet upon realising he has researched her, gets up and leaves. Although fictional, the storyline extrapolates quite closely into the real-world dating scene. As the title suggests, there is little mystery left in dating, and looking someone up online often results in forming biased assumptions about them before you have even gotten to know them in real life. According to Match.com, 48% of women and 38% of men say that they research someone online before they go out with them, and similar numbers say that they would bail on a date if they found out something they didn’t like.
So, with social media profiles representing a picture-perfect version of yourself, you might be lucky enough to score a date but what in this day and age does a date exactly entail? Coffee and dinner dates are now things of the past, and has been replaced with “getting drinks,” so some liquid courage can fuel the awkward silences that make up every first Tinder date. However, more often than not, the standard dating convention involves “hanging out” with a person you matched with on Tinder a few days ago and have stalked thoroughly enough on social media to feel reassured they are not a serial killer. In 2015, Australia became the top Tinder using country in the world with three and a half million Australians or 15% of our population being regular Tinder users. Being an avid uninstall and reinstall user of Tinder myself for the past three years with little success and endless frustration I couldn’t even tell you what draws me back time and time again. Maybe it is the fear of missing out on something or hearing about that one rare, successful Tinder couple and start believing that there is actually a point to this whole online dating madness.
Self-proclaimed “Love Guru” Jane Donovan says “Tinder’s popularity with young adults is because many 18 to 24-year old’s do not know how to date.” She believes the app acts as a safety net for young people who are generally less outgoing by nature and lack confidence in the real dating world. A major selling point of the dating app is not having to fear rejection as the anonymity of Tinder means it will only match you with someone if they have swiped right to you also. When speaking to marketing executive, Marnie who met her boyfriend on Tinder late last year, I queried what her prejudgements were of the online dating scene and whether there was a negative stigma attached to meeting someone from a dating app. “I didn’t expect to actually meet someone from Tinder. Having the reputation of being a “hook-up” app I went in with an open mind and was pleasantly surprised when I met someone I really liked.”
She then went on to say “We told our parents we met through mutual friends, because it is a little embarrassing admitting you met someone through a dating app. I think online dating has been given the stigma that you’re a bit desperate and can’t meet someone the real way.”
Although all participants I interviewed were between the ages of 19 – 25, it was evident that while males and females take different approaches to the world of online dating, majority of them have tried it at some stage. This shows that the current dating culture has taken a strong pull in the direction of dating apps and casual “hook-ups” compared to the old-fashioned approach of plucking up the courage to ask someone out in real life. While I found the majority of females were open-minded to going on dates, and meeting someone, the males were generally after something more casual. Frequent Tinder user, Ben says he primarily uses Tinder as a source of entertainment and for something to do when he’s bored. “I mean, if some girl really caught my attention I’d probably give her a shot, but I don’t really use it for the intention of meeting up with someone.”
He believes that “most guys use it as a self-esteem booster to see how many matches they can get and then compare it with their friends.”
When considering my own thoughts on the matter, I decided it was because sex has become too easily accessible these days. Previous generations were brought up in the absence of technology and with many choosing to wait until marriage, boys actually had to put in the groundwork to win over a girl. But now in a society, where the “hook-up culture” has become more dominant, boys no longer feel the need to “woo” girls. We now live in a world where we have to hold our cards tightly to our chests until someone eventually folds and is labelled as being weak or emotionally attached. Don’t double text, wait varied amounts of time to reply to their message so it doesn’t seem like you don’t have a life, pretend you’re busy when you’re really not. The list of rules is endless. God forbid, we’re actually honest with the person and tell them how we feel and what we want. Dating has now become some messy, complicated game that we’re forced to play whether we want to or not. Showing any sort of affection has automatically become technologically orientated. We now define relationships by saying “Oh I think they’re getting serious, I saw him tag her in a meme” or “he introduced me to his Mum, surely that means something, right?” But sadly, nothing means anything these days, with the art of romance firmly pushed to the side and been replaced with a far more casual dating culture.
Whether we like it or not, Tinder and other online dating apps are here to stay and it seems inevitable for young people to conform to this modern-day style of dating. More so than ever before, we have greater access to meeting a wider variety of people and while the reliance of modern day dating on technology isn’t necessarily a bad thing, we must still maintain the key fundamentals of dating, including respect, honesty, and communication. If this is done, there may still be hope for the millennial generation if we focus more on getting to know a person in real life then what we learned about them from behind a computer screen. But we have a long way to go, and it seems like for now, our generation has become lazy and in the process forgotten what it is like to date, meaning the art of romance truly has become dead.