I really don’t know if I’d prefer to go through the tech dating takeover that's taken place over the last few years or be in a full blown serious relationship and miss out on the entire experience. If you put a gun to my head, I’d probably pick my current situation, even though it means some broken hearts (given and received), numerous prayers to god that this guy doesn’t order another drink and time spent swiping left and right (but let's be honest, mostly left).
Online dating is becoming the most popular way to meet a new romantic partner. Surpassing the conventional ways of meeting people at work, local bars or through social networks. I have so many friends who have said to me “I don’t want to meet someone online, I want to meet them in real life”. Well, although that may still be an option, online dating is something that if you’re serious about finding love, should be integrated into your dating strategy. I tell my friends over and over to think of all the people they're closing themselves off to by not giving online dating a chance.
Is the Internet the greatest ever search tool for true love? Or is hookup culture and the illusion of choice putting our relationships at risk? My good friend Jamey Ordolis recently did a one-hour radio special for CBC on the topic. I loved this special so much that I decided to turn it into a blog post. Here are my favourite takeaways about understanding and surviving the relationship apocalypse.
Why Do We Have Relationships Anyway?
Once upon a time, there was a major event that forever changed the way the human race lives. It was what gave men and women a purpose to pair up, settle down, have kids and stay put. What could this major social disruptor be, you ask? It's a little thing called the agricultural revolution.
Before the agricultural revolution, man and woman, both, used to roam different places in search of food. I would assume that got pretty old, pretty fast.... I mean, every day going out and hoping you find your dinner? No thanks #justeat.
So as the world was witnessing the end of ice age, these same humans decided to build permanent settlements and began cultivating the earth. They started to live in communities, their agricultural needs continued to grow and then *boom* say hello to critical changes in society. Various factors were impacted including the lifestyles of men and women, their relationships and future civilization. We can thank farming for all the delicious things we eat but also for the establishment and development of what we know as a "relationship".
BUT HOLD UP.
We, my dear friends, are in the midst of the what is likely the second greatest disruptor of how we create, maintain and develop relationships. The internet is one of the largest changes since the agricultural revolution in our understanding of people’s romantic and sexual lives today. We have so many new ways to communicate; texting, email, live streaming videos, naked photos that disappear after 10 seconds. Really, the web is our communication oyster. But what is it doing to the idea of monogamy? What is it doing to the modern day relationship? It’s been called the “relationship apocalypse” and here are some experts' thoughts and tips on how to deal.
Dr. Helen Fisher, PhD Biological Anthropologist
"Modern Technology is not changing love, it's changing courtship. The bottom line is: it's changing how we court, how we meet people, but it's not changing love"
Dr. Fisher says that lately she is seeing an increase in “Fast sex, slow love” – an expansion of the time before fully committing. People are now really taking the time to get to know somebody before tying the knot. With this slow love, her studies are beginning to find more and more people in happy partnerships that will remain happy.
She feels the biggest issue surrounding digital dating is something called cognitive overload. "The problem is when you have what you regard as an endless number of alternatives, you end up choosing none." People stay on the internet and end up not going out with anyone at all. For millions of years a human would only meet a handful of people in their lives, not 100s. We are living in a time now with the ability to meet more people than ever before.
Her Advice : Go out with 9 People and Pick one.
Pick one to get to know better. Get to the 2nd date, theres a great deal of data that shows the more you get to know someone, the more you like them and the more you think that they are like you. Don't be so quick to cancel out the idea of a 2nd date, you may never know what you'll discover if you give this person more time.
Some of Dr. Fisher's Biggest Relationship Findings:
1. 90% of women AND men are looking for a relationship.
2. Men fall in love more often than women. Men fall in love faster than women do because they're so visual. They have more intimate conversations with their partners compared to women. This is because women have these intimate conversations with their girlfriends.
3. Men are 2.5 times more likely to kill themselves when a relationship is over.
4. Women are just as sexual as men; men are just as romantic as women (we've found it in the brain!)
If you've liked this small excerpt from Dr. Fisher you can watch her Ted Talk "The Brain in Love" here.
Dan Savage, Sex and Relationship Advice Columnist
With the arrival of the telephone, there was the same panic about how technology was destroying everything that was good and decent. The reaction we have to the internet and online dating is not different from how we've dealt with previous technology.
"I'm here to tell you, "the one" is not out there. You have no perfect match!"
On Finding "The One"
There is no "one". Ones are not found, they are made, it's an active will. The best you can hope for is about finding the person who is a 0.6 or 0.7 and you round them up to a 1. Remind yourself that you're not their 1 either, they're rounding you up and you're rounding them up. People drive themselves crazy picking people apart, thinking that the 1 is out there.
Biggest Pet Peeve with Online Dating:
"Fakes & Flakes". They are the people who flirt with you or lead you on, and then they go silent or disappear because they either don't exist or they've misrepresented themselves. They get off on fantasizing about going through with it but they have no intention of actually meeting you . This happens because with online dating there is no accountability, you can be anonymous and walk away, the people you are hurting are just abstractions.
Does the Internet Make it Easier to Find love?
Yes. The data totally bears it out that these have been good for us and good for our relationships. It's opened up a world of possibility. I know people in really happy, ecstatic, successful marriages whose partners were on the other side of the world when they met. Love can come in many forms, and it can be immediated entirely through technology and still create joy and intimacy.
If you've enjoyed this excerpt from Dan Savage you can listen to his podcast offering love and sex advice the "Savage Lovecast" here.
Jamey Ordolis, Host, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Finally, I spoke to Jamey directly to ask what her biggest takeaway was from the research and development of the show. She said:
"Since we're constantly bombarded with articles about how the internet is turning new legions of online daters into slack-jawed sex fiends with advanced thumb dexterity, setting up sexual encounters "in ten texts of less", I found it refreshing to learn that humans are actually hard-wired to pair, we actually want to commit! That doesn't exclude polyamory within committed relationships. But it looks like people are still looking for the one. Or, as Dan Savage, called it, the "0.67", which I found very romantic because who is a perfect 1.0 anyway?"
Tips on How to Survive the Relationship Apocalypse:
- Remember that the internet is real. Although it's not in person, it's real life, real flirting, real danger. Proceed with caution.
- If you can't find who you're looking for, search harder! There really is someone for everyone.
- Don't "Fake & Flake". Accountability is a skill we all must learn. Now that we have easy access to potential loves from around the world.
- Go on dates, virtual chemistry can only take you so far.
- Round up! "The One" is made, not found.
- Profile photos: recent and accurate
- Be patient and realistic
- Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. The golden rule applies.
- Be courteous, be compassionate, be interesting, be sexy, but above all be a human, a decent human being.
- Treat people with decency and demand to be treated with decency in return.