Tuesday, September 22, 2015


When I saw Aziz Ansari had a book out, I was in the height of my Parks and Rec binging stage. Tom Haverford is easily one of my favorite TV characters of all times. So when I saw that his book was a really well-researched book about dating, I was a little confused but mostly intrigued. Within 48 hours I was a proud owner of Modern Romance. As I have been navigating the dating scene myself and watching a fair amount of Friends and Sex and the City, I couldn't have read this book at a more perfect time. The characters in these TV shows were a bit older than me, so dating is already different for them, but the key difference is that they come from a very different era of dating: one with significantly less technology. 

So, how does technology play a role in dating these days? For a more in depth answer, you should read Modern Romance.* But I am going to break down some of the ways that Aziz talks about in simple form, and I am going to talk about what that means for us twenty-somethings navigating modern romance. 

Navigating Modern Romance for Twenty-Somethings

So you both swiped right. 

This generally means that you both agree the other one is attractive--or at least you wrote a decent bio. Aziz did a lot of research about the use of online dating, including Tinder. For those of you who don't know it is an app to find singles in your area. You upload a few pictures and a little bio. Then you swipe through profiles of people in your area (or a little farther away depending on you "Discovery Settings"). You swipe right if you like the other person and left if you aren't interested. So if you both swipe right, you "match", which generally shows mutual interest. While the process of swiping is simple, what comes next is more complicated. 
(See: 7 Rules of dating and Why They Are Dumb)

So you are getting strange messages. 

Online dating is weird. Aziz has an entire section dedicated to what he calls "The Modern Bozo." This guy doesn't act like a normal human being, because he can hide behind a screen. He doesn't treat messaging like he would a normal face-to-face encounter. He's a freak. The thing is there is a fine line between being strange and being creepy or gross. I'm not sure what is more concerning: the fact that they are sending crazy messages or the fact that they would be interested in someone who replied to these messages. 

This message was actually sent to my friend, Grace. 

So you are texting.

Hopefully not all of your messaging experiences are going poorly. Texting can be similar to messaging in that it is much easier to say things over texting, which can lead to saying things you might not normally say to someone. It is much less personal than a phone call or talking face-to-face. So you have to be careful. If it sounds like something that you normally wouldn't feel comfortable saying to someone you could potentially date in person, then you probably shouldn't say it. What about when you're on the receiving end? If a message seems a little bit off, chances are it is. I'm not saying let a person's texting style completely diminish their personality in real life. But be weary of the people who take 8 hours to respond to a text or come on too strong early on. I once had a guy that I had met one time tell he missed me after we had barely talked. That's not normal. 

So you are ready to DTR. 

Defining the relationship is always tricky. When is too soon? Do you really want to be exclusive with this person? Can you miss a window and slip into the ever-feared "friend zone"? The thing is you don't want to jump into something too early. There is a natural progression in relationships, and there is no need to become exclusive after a couple of dates. Take some time and figure out if it is really what you want and if you really want to make the commitment to this person.

So you are considering an open relationship. 

It is so important to be clear on this. How could anyone forget the infamous "WE WERE ON A BREAK" of Friends? If you are in a relationship, you need to be honest about what the boundaries of the relationship are at all times. Aziz describes the varying levels of commitment people can have to each other through open relationships. Some people allow their significant other's to stray from the relationship under certain conditions that they both agree upon. Everyone has a different take on this subject, because some people believe that they need sexual novelty to be happy, while others can't fathom the idea of their partner being with another person to any extent.
Related story: One example from Modern Romance was of a woman that told her husband he could cheat as long as she never suspected a thing, and if she ever asked about it, he had to tell the truth. On a trip to Hawaii for her birthday she decided to ask him, and he responded by telling her that she probably didn't want to ask this on her birthday. But she insisted. He admitted he had been with 26 other women--they had only been married 13 months. Needless to say the marriage didn't last very long after that.

So you are losing interest. 

In a time where a seemingly-unlimited amount of new options can now be at your finger tips, it is easy to get in the mentality that there could be something better around the corner. You are always wondering if there is someone else out there that you could have a better connection with or more exciting dates. If you aren't in an exclusive relationship, you might be pursuing multiple people at one time, especially if you have a vast dating pool to choose from. This also means that you can easily lose interest in someone who isn't meeting your expectations or isn't providing the level of excitement you are looking for. 

So you are reading articles like, "Why You Need Puppies, Not Boyfriends" or "9 Reasons Why Guacamole Is Better Than a Boyfriend." 

At times it might be tempting to scroll through potential dates until you get the "there are no more people around you right now" kind of notification. All of the sudden everyone around you is coupling up and you are feeling single as ever. It's a weird time in your life when you are comparing guac and potential suitors (obviously we know which one is better). But know for every couple you spot holding hands, there are six more girls stressing over a text that a guy hasn't sent yet.*** So realize that there is nothing wrong with taking it easy, and not stressing over the dating scene right now. Some people might think people who say they love being single are lying, and maybe some of them are. But especially as a young adult there are so many beautiful reasons to be single. You are learning so much about who you are and what you want, and at least for me, I know that is changing every day. 

Related: College Guys: Expectations Vs Reality

Modern Romance was one of the best books I have read in a while. Aziz's book says way more than I could ever try to cover, but I wanted to share my interpretations of his book mixed with my own experiences and other readings. My hope is that as you continue navigating the dating scene you are more conscious of the role that technology is playing in your relationships (or potential relationships). Whether you are seeing someone who acts different in person than text or just reading a lot of articles about dating, consider that technology is most likely affecting your perceptions of dating in many ways.

*This is my own unsolicited advice. It's a great book--you should check it out. Since it's Aziz, it is not only super informative, but it will make you laugh out loud--guaranteed or your money back.**
**Just kidding, I made that part up.
***This is might not be a real vetted statistic, but I could go into a room and find at least 6 girls waiting for a guy to text them back. 

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