When Tinder was first starting its reign over dating apps, I decided I should give it a try. I consider myself a social media connoisseur, and not wanting to fall behind the pack, downloaded the app onto my brand spanking new iPhone 5. It only took me a few minutes to realize that I wanted nothing to do with something that felt so intrusive to the most vulnerable part of my life -- my heart.
Flash forward to me dating the old fashioned way, one year later.
I'm sitting shotgun in my car on the way home from the most romantic date I've had in a long time. We spent the night at the lake, and he kissed me like he meant it. We cross a bridge back into the city and suddenly he turns the music down. I turn to face him, expecting him to tell me he was feeling the same, but instead he tells me he's still seeing a girl I thought was history. Oh, and he isn't quite sure he likes me better. I don't know why I always get my hopes up.
Dating as a millennial has taught me a few things.
- The good looking guys don't want commitments.
- The guys willing to commit often come across as a little too misogynistic for my taste.
- The good guys are hiding in the woodwork (or so I hope.)
Unfortunately for millennials, dating apps like Tinder have become the norm. We live in a fast-paced society with fast-paced relationships that end as quickly as they start. Chivalry has been painted in a negative light by over-the-top feminists, and a good girl like myself tends to feel like they’re losing on the love front. Dating as a millennial is a challenge, unless you've figured out how to successfully separate sex and emotion.
Millennials are three times more narcissistic than Baby Boomers, as according to the National Institutes of Health, and it definitely comes across as the way people treat new love prospects. Dating has become a game that focuses more on talking yourself up and less on caring about the other person, and it's no wonder. Social media makes it easy for us to create a seemingly perfect life, and going on a date can feel a lot like upholding that charade the whole time. Your lusty photo and witty bio may keep their interest on the internet, but when you meet up in person it can feel an awful lot like you're trying to prove yourself. A typical dinner convo between me and potential life partners goes a little like this: "Enough about me. Wait, actually let's talk about me some more."
You have to seem cooler, smarter and more attractive than any other person they could be talking to at the moment -- and let’s face it, they could be talking to quite a few. Dating isn’t just face-to-face anymore, it's screen-to-screen. Whether you know it or not, you're cultivating an interpersonal relationship with that guy you obsessively Snapchat every time the clock hits ten and you find yourself a little lonely. Unlike our grandparents and parents who had to wait for a call, millennials can communicate with anyone at any time via a text message, Snapchat, tweet, mention or tag.
Our increasingly short attention spans hinder us the most when it comes to dating. Millennials spend all day scrolling, and are easily bored. We scroll at breakfast to catch up on news, at work to get our assignments done, on the subway home to see what our friends have been tweeting from the office. Instead of articles we read listicles, instead of real relationships we have followers. That’s why apps like Tinder work -- we scroll, we see, we swipe. And after we’re done with that person, we do it all over again. No wonder the average age for marriage in young adults has increased by six years in the span of the last two generations.
Let's talk about my personal vice: the alternatives question. This is where we ask ourselves, Is this the best I can do? Is there someone that may fit a teeny tiny bit better? What a dangerous game to play, especially when it comes to love. It can be hard to commit to someone when you aren’t quite sure they are the best possible option, and social media has taught us what the cream of the crop really looks and acts like. #RelationshipGoals has taught us what we “deserve” in a relationship, but many times encourages us to strive for perfection that doesn't exist.
This self-obsessed hookup culture isn’t for me, but for some people it can play out in their favor. Millennials are less likely to pursue a career and less likely to settle down at a younger age, making dating apps and hookup culture immensely appealing to those who love to work and play without strings attached. While screen-to-screen interaction isn’t for all, it’s also a rational choice for those who have trouble meeting people or lack the means to meet suitable partners.
What I’ve observed about Millennial dating culture should be taken with a grain of salt, as my experiences are not everyone’s. Some people do find true love on Tinder, and those Millennials who do fall in love tend to fall hard and with their whole heart. Committed relationships and selfless romantic gestures aren’t for everybody in this narcissistic generation, but while the hope of a future romance has been pushed to the back of our minds, the flame has not yet burned out.