Where Did Dating Go?

Part 4 of 4 of the Tinder Dating Series. Find part 1 herepart 2 here and part 3 here.

There is no denying that the interactions between girls and boys have entirely changed for our generation. Casual sex has always existed- but it’s true, people are dating less and casual sex is becoming the new norm. I talked about this trend in relation to Tinder in my last few articles. However, there are 2 major trends I have noticed- on top of the digital “dating” explosion- that I think may be important contributing factors to the decline of dating.

The first of these two factors is the sky-high divorce rate in the U.S.- 50 percent! People are questioning the institution of marriage given that it is supposed to be for forever… yet this is only happening fifty percent of the time. I am speaking in opinions here (don’t I always), but I think we are one of the first generations to have a weary outlook on the whole marriage ordeal. I know many people who are skeptical as to whether or not they will get married at all.

Oftentimes those who claim they won’t be getting married cite that they don’t “believe” in marriage. Since when was marriage something you believed in or not? Can you imagine a hardworking banker or coal miner or tradesman in the 18 and 1900s claiming to ‘not believe’ in marriage? Marriage wasn’t something to believe or not to believe in. It was just something you did.

Given that the divorce rate is fifty percent, I pass no judgment on those who are non-believers of the institution of marriage. However where this gets tough is when I look around and notice that no one around me is even casually dating one another. Just because you don’t want to get married, does that mean we now won’t be dating?

Casual sex is what many now turn to instead of committed relationships. Casual sex is fine, but for those of us who do not partake- it plagues our generation. How does someone like me succeed at being courted, taking things slowly, and end up in a committed relationship? This is when the guys I’m surrounded with could just text a girl from Tinder and have her come over in an hour and sleep with him. This is where it gets tricky. I think everyone’s aversion to doing things the “old fashioned way” is due to their aversion to dating anyone in general.

We are scared to commit to dating because that could eventually lead to marriage. When there is a 50 percent chance that marriage will end, that starts to feel like a tumultuous journey to embark upon. I think this has resulted in people being incredibly selective about the people they do choose to date. Many people I have spoken to only plan on giving up casual sex once they meet someone they feel could potentially be “the one.” Dating around until you find the right person will more than likely not be our generations’ path to marriage anymore. It will arguably be sleeping around until you find someone you want to do more than sleep with.

I hypothesize one other contributing factor to our declining relationship rates. We are dating less because of how career driven we are. Go back even 3 decades ago, and I think that you would find that while women went to college and worked, marriage was still a central focus for people as they graduated and started their adult lives. No longer do you find many women going to get their “MRS” degree and happily waiting for a ring come graduation. In fact, I don’t know a single person who planned on marrying a college sweetheart and calling it a day in terms of their career.

This being said, many young people are now dedicating themselves to their careers with a tenacity that has not been characteristic for men and women in the past. Marriage is becoming less of a priority for people out of college who are just getting their careers started. Additionally there aren’t flocks of women waiting around for a ring anymore either. As a result, we’re getting married later in life, which is perpetuating people’s aversion from dating in their earlier 20s and college years.

I know many people who claim that casual sex is the only thing that they have time for. While I find that this is ridiculous, this goes to show how seriously people take relationships. Relationship is a broad term. I’m willing to bet the people claiming to only have time for casual sex wouldn’t hate having sex say, 3-4 times a week. I also doubt it would really bother them (in fact it may even be pleasant) to have someone lying next to them as they wind down and watch their favorite Netflix series. I’m also fairly confident it wouldn’t be too much of a burden to have dinner once a week with someone whose company you enjoy. Relationships can be casual, but I couldn’t tell you a single person I know who is in or has been in a casual relationship.

A relationship in my head (and in my peers) is spending every night with someone, texting them throughout the day, sacrificing either personal time or time with friends to see the other person between sleep and work. I am guilty of framing relationships as a very serious commitment as well. I mentioned above that many people feel as if they need to find someone who could potentially be ‘the one’ to even date them- and this is becoming increasingly true as we consider taking time away from the limited time we have outside of our jobs.

All of this being said, people are settling down and having families at older ages. Marriage in general is becoming less of a priority for many because there is a lot of distrust around the whole notion of marriage given the divorce rates. Casual sex is also what many young work-overloaded people feel they have the time and energy for as they are starting out their adult lives.

Secondly, guys and girls alike are pursuing long and successful careers, and as a result, we have seen marriage become less of a priority. This is especially the case as everyone is starting out because entry-level jobs can be so time intensive. I am curious to see how not only the divorce rates, but the marriage rates, change over the next 10 years. Time will tell. Until then, you can find millennials slaving away at their jobs or out meeting up with someone off of Tinder.

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