Ah, love. Romance, courtship, and relationships have always reflected society in a brutally honest way. A lot has changed over the years, and modern love is no exception to strange customs and rituals. We took a look at the current love landscape to define the New Rules of Dating worth falling for.
Rule 1: There are plenty of fish in the sea.
Millennials seem to have commitment issues. The generation shies away from traditional committed relationships, instead opting for ‘hooking up’, ‘Netflix and Chill,’ ‘Friends with Benefits.’ And despite having access to many potential love connections, Millennials are having sex with fewer partners than previous generations. This may be due to the fact that we’re less likely than previous generations to live together, while being more likely to live with parents longer (harder to invite your Netflix and Chill buddy over with your parents home).
Rule 2: Love is but a game.
Thumbs have found a new use: finding love. Gone are the days of finding a romantic partner based on that feeling – we have algorithms to do that now. Dating apps and websites are no longer talked about in embarrassed whispers; they’re practically ubiquitous. The use of mobile dating apps and websites in young people have nearly tripled since 2013. This phenomenon is also seen among the young at heart – those in their late 50s and early 60s have also significantly increased their online dating presence. While online dating has shed its stigma, it doesn’t exactly offer the most realistic reflection of reality. In fact, a fifth of young people admit that their online profile bears little resemblance to reality.
These dating apps – particularly Tinder – have made meeting strangers quick, fun, and literally gamified. Tinder broke through as a party game and group activity by making it easy to swipe with friends (its design mimics a stack of cards being flipped around). Grab your friends, gather ‘round, and swipe away.
Rule 3: Love can be as real as you program it to be.
In the 2013 film Her, Scarlett Johansson’s character proved that computers can be the object of love, not just the vehicle for it. A few short years later, the prospect of technology providing a visceral love experience is more real than ever; sex in virtual reality is getting more realistic and immersive. Newly engineered virtual interactions have started to incorporate other – more unexpected – senses: Webcam platform CamSoda has experimented with new technologies including 3D Holograms, and a feature called OhRoma sparked interest for incorporating odors through a sensory mask.
Rule 4: It has to be FBO.
That’s lover speak for “Facebook Official” – the only marker of a relationship that counts in modern love. From the Facebook relationship status to the dreaded shared profile, it is expected that your relationship be splashed across social. And if social media is a platform for us to share the best versions of our lives, relationships are no exception. We only share the most picture perfect moments of our relationships (if you’re lucky, you might even snag an Instagram Boyfriend devoted to your curated social presence). One couple dared to break the rules and bare it all in an experiment that documented their real relationship, fights and all (spoiler alert: they didn’t last).
Rule 5: Distance makes the heart grow fonder.
With the omnipresence of texting and videoconferencing like FaceTime and Skype, long-distance relationships today are much easier to manage. Entire apps are devoted to keeping couples synced up and on track with each others’ schedules, and there’s even an app to help couples watch Netflix or just experience the Internet together.
While communication is important, tech is trying to tackle the physical intimacy needs in relationships. Apps try to recreate physical touch and closeness with synced vibrating screens, and one even simulates ‘pillow talk’ with your partner’s heartbeat and being on the pillow. And (since you were wondering) there are solutions to the really intimate aspects of relationships. These tools seem to be effective; some evidence suggests that there are no major differences in intimacy, commitment or relationship satisfaction in long-distance relationships versus geologically close relationships.
But unsurprisingly, relationships that start online don’t quite measure up in person.
Rule 6: We are alone, together.
Technology and social media offer us an interesting paradox: we are constantly connected to our friends, families, and significant others – but are we more social? As we conflate our electronic relationships and connections with physical ones, we can actually feel much more social isolation and distance between our significant others. In a survey given to teenagers, about one-third said social media “makes them feel jealous or unsure about their relationship.”
As we become more accustomed to living out our social lives online, our romantic relationships too have become more digitized. With new prospects one swipe away, why would we commit to one partner and ride out the rough patches? When we can text with a stranger who is algorithmically guaranteed to be mutually interested, why risk talking to that beautiful stranger across the room?