h2>Dating : Dating in the 21st Century
The 21st century has been highly romanticized by scientists, sci-fi authors, artists and politicians alike as an age of discovery and unseen advancement. Though humans have taken huge strides in all aspects of life since those predictions of flying cars and floating cities were made, we are currently at the mercy of a virus measuring mere nano-microns, which nobody saw coming. The pandemic has caused both tragic loss and separation between loved ones. Maintaining existing bonds has been compounded by the need to social distance, as well as the regulations that have restricted the level of social interaction we once took for granted. If dating in the 21st century was not already a challenge, the pandemic has limited the opportunity to meet other people and has minimized the size of the existing dating pool. With the surge in online activity and all necessities being fulfilled with the click of a button, dating apps have taken on a more pronounced appeal and have provided a vital gateway in the pursuit of a connection during these difficult times.
Most of the relationships between my family members and their respective partners were initiated very organically and usually involved locking eyes from across the room, either at a campus library or party. While growing up, I often heard the stories of how my loved-ones met and, though it was not a priority at the time, wondered how my own narrative would play out.
1958 — My paternal grandfather met my grandmother on the day he rode his bicycle passed her house and conveniently stopped there for a glass of water. She was not bothered by his pursuit of her and had a history of turning down every other suitor who was interested. Knowing this, her brother, who became friends with my grandfather, gave her no choice in the matter. They were married for close to 60 years.
1960 — My maternal grandmother once told me how, at the time, suitors would wave their handkerchiefs at the women they were interested in. Her marriage to my grandfather was arranged and took place on Valentine’s Day. They were also married for close to 60 years.
1990 — My parents were introduced to each other by a mutual friend. My mother needed her car radio to be fixed, the mutual friend recommended my father for the job, and the rest is history. They are still happily married to this day
Tradition vs Modern-day Paradigms
As someone who was raised in a conservative/traditional household, my parents’ expectations of what I should achieve, chronologically, centered around doing well at school, obtaining a degree, meeting the right partner and getting married, moving into a suitable house together, having kids and the list goes on. Though conventional by modern standards but unheard of within my family, my partner and I met through the online dating app, Bumble, a few years ago. We are currently engaged, living together and preparing for our wedding next month.
The decision to live together before marriage was initially met with great resistance from my parents, as is typical when old norms are threatened by the changing times. This situation brought to light a variety of existential questions regarding the role of tradition/culture and whether, in this ever-changing climate, such ideologies are still relevant. Tradition attempts to provide a moral compass to live by and the older generations, such as my parents, are often guided by this too rigidly. As time ticks and the current generation ages, we too will have to make compromises and be open-minded when it comes to the future generations.
Living together can be a valuable transition from dating to marriage if both partners know what they want, envisage a long-term commitment to each other and do whatever is in their power to uphold this.
My personal experience with online dating
I decided to pursue online dating after a string of failed attempts at conventional dating. I had recently moved to a new area and thought it would be the least admin-intensive way of meeting new people. I would definitely recommend online dating as a way of gauging what the local dating pool is like, especially if excessive face- to- face contact is a draining experience for you. With both my partner and I being introverts, the odds of us ever meeting in person at a social event would have been extremely unlikely.
The pandemic has fostered a lifestyle of isolation and disconnect from the outside world, which may be strangely comforting to people who usually turn down plans just to have a quiet night in. Online dating, now more than ever, may provide a platform for such people who may ordinarily not seek their partner in a typical social setting.
One of the advantages of online dating is that expectations are often upfront, with this information forming the main profile of the person. It makes it easier to connect with someone who wants the same thing that you do, even if it means that you are both still trying to figure out what you are looking for in a relationship, and if a serious commitment is what you even want in the first place.
The strange part of online dating is the idea of looking for something as tangible as a relationship on a that is so virtual. It is not easy making a real connection with someone over a screen, even if options to interact are enhanced with video-chat features. As with any kind of social interaction, trusting your intuition is just as important when dating online. Red flags may include the use of crude pick-up lines, becoming too familiar too fast, excessive compliments, rushing the natural progression from chatting to meeting in person. The opposite may also be true where the person you’re trying to engage with avoids meeting you in person or always has an excuse for why they are not available. Being unresponsive to messages and blatantly ignoring attempts to connect on social media may also raise red flags.
The most apparent concerns are being catfished by individuals whose profile pictures do not match their actual identity, as well as the safety concerns about meeting a stranger on the internet. Asking for photos of the person you are interacting with and communicating over video-calls may assist in obtaining a collective identity of the person, as well as picking up facial expressions and body language queues which are otherwise absent in typed messages. When meeting in person, try to select a populated area that you are familiar with and let a friend or family member know your whereabouts, just to be safe.
With all that is happening in the world right now, reaching out and connecting with people can be a valuable way of remaining hopeful through all the uncertainty. Regardless of how and when you meet your partner, dodging the hurdles that life throws at you is simpler with a navigator by your side.