“Tinder and the Dawn of the Dating Apocalypse” was the apt title of a Vanity Fair article that spread like an alarm bell around cyberspace.
It brought with it a bleak vision of the future in which all of our loving relationships would eventually be ambushed by an army of penis snap chats and digital emojis. In this future romantic wasteland the most you can hope for is a few dates for meaningless copulation.
But how bad is it really? Are we really entering into a dating apocalypse as one woman in New York suggested? And if so, how can we survive it?
There is something to be said for our times—not since the agricultural revolution has there been this big of a transition in the mating habits of heterosexuals. The Internet is rapidly surpassing any other form of human meeting, contact or interaction. Theorists tell us that future generations may conduct most, if not all, of their relationships purely online, with little to no physical proximity at all. The advent of Tinder has made dating easier, faster and more superficial than ever, with one bartender observing that some people come in with more than one date in the same night.
It is no surprise then that Berlin-based author Michael Nast’s book Generation No Relationship has sold millions of copies and has been described as the “voice of a generation,” citing the pressures of finding a steady job and providing for a family as the cause for why so many are being turned off by the demands of a relationship in our modern times.
But how much should we embrace these trends toward the rejection of conventional ideas of relationships? And how much should we give in to an almost complete digital immersion in the world of the unattached and disposable?
According to Jean Twenge, a social psychologist at San Diego State University, the reasons why millennials are suffering from anxiety at much higher rates than the generations that preceded them has to do with exactly this. Young people, she claims, face so much intense uncertainty and upheaval all around them and with the breakdown of conventional relationships, ideas about marriage and family structures people have less community and support to turn to in times of stress.
This is not an unfounded idea as there are dozens of studies in medical literature demonstrating that when humans experience isolation and loss they become vulnerable to depression, anxiety and loneliness. Solitary people even have a vastly increased rate of premature death from all causes—and are three to five times likelier to die early than people with ties to spouses, family or community.
So perhaps the term “dating apocalypse” is not so far off after all and gives us all call to stop and evaluate. Relationships and community are what makes us uniquely human, contributing to the survival and success of our species since our evolution from our lizard forefathers 65 million years ago. In these times maybe we should embrace exactly what makes us human and fight for our individuality as well as our togetherness. We must remember that we are not interchangeable commodities even if the digital world can sometimes make us feel that we are just one swipe away from being replaced.
You never know, the survival of our species might just depend on it.
Here are some steps to surviving the dating apocalypse:
1) Accept that everyone has flaws.
There is not one perfect person on this planet, although looking through the Instagram filter may make you think you’re the only one with issues. The more we do to accept and learn about our own flaws the sooner we can be more forgiving and accepting of the flaws of others.
2) Learn to value your own vulnerability as a strength.
It requires true strength to be deeply honest about your fears, shame and limitations with someone you love. When you realize that it is your openness and not your defenses that make you strong, you won’t have so much to fear in your relationships.
3) Be prepared to stick around.
Relationships can’t strengthen if every time things gets hard or too close, we just leave. Be prepared to go through some hard times and see them as impermanent. Relationships can take years to ripen; if we constantly nurture the soil, unexpected wonders can grow.
4) Only seek out others who also value true intimacy.
If you feel that someone refuses to let down their guard with you and after time things don’t change, then consider if this is the kind of relationship that you want. Don’t be afraid to want more intimacy.
5) Don’t buy into the generation of “no relationship.”
Remember you can be unconventional in your relationship styles without only having casual partners. Allow your relationships to be deep and sustainable over time and don’t be afraid if they are imperfect. One wonderful thing about our modern world is the lessening of stigmas attached to alternative or non-conformist styles of being in relationships and families.
6) Don’t compare yourself to others.
It can be hard in the digital age not to look at all of these photoshopped bodies, holiday photos and smiling happy lives and not feel like you are in a contest for the “best life ever” award. If we remember that what is presented online is only half of the story, we can be come back to valuing and finding meaning in the full range of our experiences.
Living only in relationships online can take you out of your own unique contribution and vision to this world and into someone else’s fairy tale story. It also gives the impression that finding and sustaining relationships can be as easy as going shopping in a catalogue—it’s not!
Author: Sophie Frost
Image: via Imgur
Editor: Catherine Monkman