Risks and rewards of today’s dating culture

by Kit Murray

murrayki@mnstate.edu

Is it a hook-up culture? Is it a Tinder culture? Today’s dating habits have raised a lot of questions by not only professionals in sociology and psychology, but many of us involved in this phenomenon as well.

Today is fast paced. We don’t want to sit around and read about someone for an hour. Physical attraction is first, followed by conversation. Then we meet in person. It seems backwards, but it has proven to be successful.

As a huge advocate for putting yourself out there and finding out what sparks an interest, I approve of all Tinder dates. Meeting new people not only puts us outside of our comfort zones, but it helps bring light to what we want in another person and more importantly, what we don’t want. Participating in this, however, proves that our dating world is changing.

The biggest concern I’ve come across reflects back to the idea of technology hindering human interaction. I’ve noticed that the way we perceive others over social media or text can be entirely different to how we perceive them in real life. We can discover important characteristics over text before meeting in person, though. For example, if someone can use the right “there, their or they’re” in a conversation beforehand, this is crucial. But this raises the question, is technology making us more confident behind screens, and making us weaker at interacting face-to-face?

Meeting someone online can be a challenge, but possibly a rewarding one. Studies have shown that after only 15 minutes, it is possible to realize whether another person is compatible with us. This doesn’t mean it’s socially acceptable to get up and leave the date, or end a conversation with a match that turned weird; sometimes we have to power through the crummy mismatches.

Aziz Ansari’s book, “Modern Dating,” has raised a fair amount of awareness about this phenomenon. He mentions a website to document horrible Tinder conversations. Straight White Boys Texting has become an outlet for mostly women to post screenshots of conversations that went sour. Messages from these men usually consist of creepy sexual advances. The website name seems to have a narrow contribution, but the blog is all-inclusive of ethnicities and sexual orientations. I can attest to its accuracy, as it has happened not only in my experience, but in many of my friends’ as well.

The issues that are raised about modern dating are so different from issues in the past. We lie, we don’t even meet in person first, and sometimes we have to be more vulnerable than we’ve ever been. This does not mean it’s impossible to meet a wonderful human being from something as innocent and light-hearted as Tinder.

Although most of my dates have seemed like social experiments, the best approach I’ve found is to realize that each person we come across is a teacher. I’ve been on absolutely beautiful dates that felt like a cheesy movie scene, and I’ve gone on dates where I wanted to jump into the nearest pothole. Whether we’ve made a connection or not, we can learn by putting ourselves back in the game. It’s important to realize that butterflies are not dead, and that we are capable of loving another person.

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