• Danielle Serpica

Dating in The Digital Age: Is Romance Really Dead or Can We Save It?

As if dating wasn’t hard enough, enter the Digital Age. Technology has made things both too easy and more complicated. We now have the world at our fingertips. It only makes sense that the dating world would also move to a digital platform. When that happened, most people shunned it. There was a stigma to online dating that only desperate losers and creeps used it because they had no other opinions. It wasn’t until more recent years, where online dating became the standard and those who found relationships through real world interactions became the minority. As more people began to date online, the whole dating world has forever changed. Whether for better or for worse, is yet to be determined. There is no doubt that Millennials and Gen Z enjoy the convenience of online dating. You don’t have to leave the house or put on pants to get a date. You aren’t limited, since there are basically unlimited options that give you access to people that you wouldn’t normally meet at your neighborhood watering hole. However, this could be too much of a good thing. Unlimited options create false opportunities. Just because you have them, doesn’t mean you will click with all of them. This has become a major problem in dating today. Most people will dismiss a great potential partner over something minor just because they have a full inbox. It creates a false sense of confidence and security. This is one of the major reasons why many relationships don’t last today.

Back in the day, people met in person. Either at school, work, through family or mutual friends. People worked on their relationships and stayed together for a long time because they valued the person they were with. They didn’t have apps full of singles waiting to meet them if things went wrong. Affairs still happened, but they weren’t as common as they are now. They also weren’t connected to their partner 24 hours a day like we are with our cellphones. They would speak on the telephone, schedule a date and that was that. Husbands and wives didn’t communicate that much throughout the day either. They’d kiss each other goodbye in the morning, go to work, come home and have a nice long conversation at the dinner table about how their day was.

Being connected 24/7 is ruining relationships. Texting all day long leaves nothing to talk about. Why ask about someone’s day when we already know how it went? We can learn everything about someone through social media, that there is no longer any air of mystery. This ruins first dates and dims that spark of excitement because people give up too much information, too soon by texting all day long. When the first date comes, we already know what to expect. Dating apps and social media make people too comfortable with texting and video chatting, that it either delays meeting up in person or the interest fizzles out before they ever have that opportunity. This has also caused a decline in social skills, or the person comes off as if they lack social skills, simply because they’ve already exhausted all conversation topics. This has destroyed and cheapened the whole dating and courting process. No one really goes on real dates anymore or puts in any effort into making a date special. Probably because at this point, there’s nothing left to do, but have sex. Which begs the question, are we having sex sooner out of boredom?

Online dating started out with good intentions. It created a platform for everyone to have a fair chance at meeting someone special. Even the ugliest or weirdest person you know could find love. It seems like the easier things got, the quicker online dating evolved from a place to meet your future husband or wife, into a place of shallow hookups and casual sex. Enter, Hookup Culture and Tinder. Tinder created a platform for just that. Instead of having a bio and survey questions for better matches, Tinder just has pictures and a short description. You swipe left or right on people based on attractiveness. You can’t make it any more simplified than that. Since Tinder is known for being a hook-up app, there is no need to go out of your way to impress someone or put in any effort. You just arrange a place to meet, do the deed and be on your way. This has become so normal, that even other dating apps attract people with this sort of mindset.

If getting laid is this easy, why put in any effort at all? There is no longer a need to be romantic. We can’t place all the blame on men either, because women are also allowing and going along with this. Some even claim to join Tinder looking for friends, then get upset when the guy only wants sex. Some women will set high standards like; he has to be rich, over 6ft tall, big dick, muscular and have a nice car. Men will demand that women be petite or have a certain boob or booty size. Through all the shallowness and lechery, can we actually find love in the Digital Age? The answer is yes, but it can be difficult.

Editor's Note: Evidence of the "stagnant cesspool."

There are so many different apps out there from OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Grinder and even paid websites like E-Harmony and Match.com. Almost everyone is on one now, that it has become more difficult to find a real relationship that will last. What once seemed like vast dating pool has become a stagnant cesspool. The more options you have, the more work you have to do to weed out the creeps and those just looking for a one-night stand. You need to have a strategy and choose the right apps in order to represent yourself in a way that will help you attract exactly what you’re looking for. You also have to be completely honest with yourself and others and be able to take personal accountability. As a woman, you can’t be half naked and demand a serious relationship and get mad when dudes are flooding your inbox with thirsty messages. As a man, you can’t lie about your height and expect the woman you go out on a date with to not be disappointed. You can’t be a 4 and expect to land a 10, you have to be realistic. You can’t join Tinder, “looking for friends,” and get mad when you get spammed by people who just want to have sex.

There are still some people out there, like myself who believe that the best way to meet someone is still the old fashioned way. That’s how I met most of my boyfriends and it’s how I met my husband. The problem with meeting people organically and in person is that people have become so accustomed to communicating online or through texts, that they now have social anxiety and don’t know how to hold their own in real life. Most would rather get to know someone on social media first and take things at a snail’s pace, which can be extremely frustrating.

Another issue is New Wave Feminism and the #metoo movement. Most men today don’t even want to deal with approaching a woman in real life because they are afraid of being labeled a creep or be accused of harassing someone. They also don’t know what to do when they do score a date. “Do I pay or will she be upset and think I’m looking to get lucky?” “Should I hold the door for her or will she be offended?” “Should I make a move or will I be accused of sexual assault?” I know I’m going to get attacked for this, but so be it! Men, by nature are natural pursuers. It’s how they are genetically wired. New Wave Feminism and apps like Bumble, emasculate men by having the woman make the first move.

Most women I know who have used Bumble, are usually disappointed and eventually lose interest because they set the tone early on that they will be initiating everything. They attract the wrong guys and leave because he wasn’t a “man enough.” One friend in particular, had a lot of problems with her boyfriend in the beginning of their relationship because of this. She was upset that her boyfriend never planned any dates or tried to be romantic. She even had to initiate sex most of the time and felt unwanted. When I pointed it out to her that he was used to her doing everything, she realized what was happening. They had a long talk and he learned to take the lead and be more of a man in the relationship and things got better.

This whole #metoo movement also made dating and sex awkward. I always hated when men would ruin the moment by asking, “Can I kiss you?” or, “Would you like to have sex?” Now, during a time where consent is a big issue, they have to ask these questions. It’s very difficult to be a man in today’s dating world. There are too many rules and too many traps to fall into. No wonder so many choose dating apps over real life interactions. With that being said, it’s also hard to be a woman when men have been forced to become more submissive and less manly. It’s hard to act like a man when so many women are accusing you of “toxic masculinity.” New Wave Feminism has both genders asking, “What happened to all the real men?” and “Where are all the real women?” When you take away gender roles, you kill the romance, the passion and that spark that makes falling in love so magical.

Is there any hope? Yes, of course there is. It’s just going to be more difficult and require more effort from both men and women. You really have to know what you want and have a good strategy going into it. There are a lot of people that have success with online dating and there are still people who are out there having success with meeting people in-person. Not everyone is looking for just sex and there are a lot of good people out there. Once you find them, you have nurture the relationship and ignore your other options in the cyber world. You also need to accept that no one is perfect, even if their dating profile might imply that. It’s very easy to get caught up in the fantasy that the mind creates when you meet someone online. You need to have reasonable expectations and keep an open mind. You will eventually find what you’re looking for.