The evolution of dating

Feb. 11, 2015

Royal Purple Staff Opinion

Movies, television shows and fiction books teach us what love, dating and relationships are supposed to look like. Guy meets girl by total chance, they hit it off, date a few times and fall madly in love.

Instead what we find in today’s society is online dating, hook-ups, a struggle to define relationship labels and a complete shift in the way people date than what was considered normal for the generations before us. So what happened? Technology.

Dating apps and websites may have drastically changed the idea of a “normal” dating life and altered the way that people interact with one another, but that doesn’t make it a bad thing.

Ops GraphicDespite the opportunities available and the ease of finding potential partners that new technology provides, there are still many concerns associated with online dating.

One common topic frequently brought up is that this online technology is creating a “hook-up culture” and killing traditional romance and dating.

For example, 32 percent of Internet users say “online dating keeps people from settling down,” according to a 2013 Pew Research Center study. In the same study, however, 59 percent said it is “a good way to meet people,” proving there are benefits to finding the one (or the many) on sites and in apps.

This has created a change in the way society labels relationships as well. Many are familiar with the term “hanging out” and what it really means in a dating context, so when do two people stop “hanging out” and become “Facebook official?”

There is no clear-cut answer to this question. With the rise in casual dating, relationships have become more fluid. Some people “hang out” for a while, and that’s all it ever becomes. Others may meet multiple people they have common interests with and date multiple people at a time, either casually or by participating in consensual non-monogamy.

Again, this is not a bad thing. It is just how our society has evolved with technology. Now, rather than sitting in a bar and hoping you might have something in common with at least one person there, you have a much larger pool to choose from and can immediately see shared interests or needs.

Another common concern is safety in many different forms. Since there is an increase in hooking-up with one or more people you meet online, there is a growing discussion about safe sex and STD awareness. It’s not necessarily sexy to ask others about their sexual health, but it is important to make sure you are aware of your risk.

Thankfully, there seems to be a larger discussion about safe sex in today’s modern society than there was back in the beginning of the sexual revolution in the 1960s.

Also concerning safety is the people themselves. Catfishing and parental paranoia have many questioning whether or not the person they are talking to online is legitimate and real. The solution for many is to meet up in a public place first, like grabbing a cup of coffee or meeting up in a mall. This gives people a safe, public place to ensure that it is not in fact a 50-year-old man creeping from his basement.

In general, it has become easier to interact with others online or via texting in today’s generation because of the growth of the internet and social media. Especially when it comes to breaking the ice, it becomes a thousand times easier to send a message and move on than it is to physically approach someone in a bar.

Next time you are sitting in class, take a look around. That guy next to you has probably used Tinder. That girl down in the front has possibly created an OkCupid account. Maybe the happy couple in the back row met online. Perhaps the girl a few seats down is in an open relationship.

The point is that dating and relationships have changed and been redefined, and that’s OK. Dating is not dead, it’s just different from before. We need to accept each other in whatever method of dating we choose, because there is no one “right way” to love, just many more options to choose from.

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