It seems like every column I read about dating these days takes a negative view of the modern style of romantic interaction. Honestly, I’ve written my fair share of cynical pieces, but I think 2014 is getting an unfair portrayal romantically. My opinion is that dating is shitty in any decade, because most humans are shitty. But getting past my generally misanthropic worldview, I think there are actually some real advantages to dating in today’s world. Instead of being another complainer, I’m actually going to be optimistic for once.
“Young people these days don’t understand how to make a proper phone call. It’s all texting now, which is so impersonal.” Wow, thanks for your opinion, Mr. Most Likely To Annoy The Shit Out Of You from the class of 1992. Sure, texting is sort of weird and impersonal. You know what else is weird and impersonal? Talking on the fucking phone. Given how much we understand the importance of body language, you’d think people would make this argument more often. There is literally no substitute for in-person interaction, so why is the idea of the lost art of the phone call so important? It’s not.
If we are going to talk to someone in an impersonal way, let’s agree that texting is much more preferable. Why? Because there’s no importance attached to it. Let’s say I’m planning a second date with a girl. I can text her and find out if she prefers 6 or 7 o’clock, or which Mexican restaurant she likes the best. Do you know how weird that would seem if I made a phone call for that? There’s also the post-date interaction. I can send the “Hey, I had a great time tonight. We should do it again sometime” text with no worries whatsoever. If I call a girl two hours after we parted ways just to tell her that I enjoyed myself, well, welcome to creep status, buster.
2. Netflix, Video Games, And Social Media
With all of the media at our disposal, we now have a plethora of ways to entertain ourselves with others. If you and your significant other want to watch a Disney movie, there are a dozen of them available. If you both like playing Call of Duty, have fun killing 12-year-olds together. Hell, if you’re really nerdy, you can share inside jokes you both read in the comments on Reddit. But there’s another benefit to all of this available media. If you’re in a committed relationship, you can also use it to ignore each other! Let me clarify. I know that sounds like a bad thing, because why would you want to ignore the person you’re in a relationship with? Well, perpetually single person who’s clearly never been in a long term relationship, allow me to explain. You know how you once moved into a dorm with your best buddy and it put a real strain on the friendship since you were around each other that many hours of the day? It’s the same with dating. You can love the person you’re with as much as you want, but even the craziest of clingers need some space every now and then. So as long as you’re devoting enough quality time to each other, it’s actually preferable if the two of you spend a few hours in the same room ignoring the shit out of each other. Trust me.
3. Casual Sex
Casual sex has gotten a really bad reputation in the last few years, which is something I don’t really understand. I imagine a lot of that is the result of people complaining (yes, guys whine about this, too) because they want to settle down, but they keep hooking up with people who don’t want a relationship. Well, I have news for these dummies. Expecting to find a boyfriend or girlfriend by sleeping with someone you meet at a bar makes about as much sense as walking into the office of the place you want to work and demanding a job. Sure, you know a few people who have made this work before, but you wouldn’t make it your main strategy. So why target the places where people look to have casual sex with each other as a way to find a boyfriend or girlfriend? Casual sex is awesome in 2014 because it’s an actual option. Even 15 years ago, casual sex was common but certainly not prevalent. Now, if you’re the type of person (yes, girls like casual sex, too) who wants to go do some dirty work at the crossroads with another person without the burden of a relationship, that’s something you can find pretty easily.
4. Mainstream Feminism
And what do we have to thank for casual sex’s popularity? Three things, mainly: Hollywood, advanced contraceptives, and feminism. I’ll probably write a whole piece someday about how feminism is literally the best thing to happen to guys in the last 50 years, other than the 24 second shot clock and Internet porn. But for today, let’s focus on what the mainstreaming of feminism has done for dating. Casual sex is the first gift. We’ve spent that last couple hundred years deluding ourselves into believing that women aren’t sexual creatures, and that sex is something they allow to be done to them rather than them ever being the aggressor. I could go into more detail, but this is a comedic piece about dating, so I’ll avoid the anthropology and social history lesson for now.
Another thing that pop feminism provides is a level playing field for men and women to date on. If a woman wants to get rich, never have kids, and date young guys forever, there are literally millions of dudes who love older women. If a woman wants to get rich, have kids, and let her husband stay home to raise them while she runs a corporation, there are literally millions of dudes who just want to raise kids. If a woman wants to have kids, stay home all day, cook a nice dinner for her husband, and generally live a utopian 1950s lifestyle, THAT’S STILL A NOBLE AND VIABLE OPTION.
5. Online Dating
Are y’all seeing the trend here? Not just with feminism, but all of these? It’s choice. Dating in 2014 offers so many more choices for people than any other era. If you want to find someone who only wants to leave the bar, have sex, fall asleep, and then get some McD’s with you in the morning, you can. If you want to find someone to sit on the couch, ignore both of your friends’ calls about going out, and stay in for the weekend to drink whiskey and watch Mel Brooks comedies, you can. If you want to find someone to go on a multi-city killing spree with you before dying in a glorious blaze of gunfire, you can. And why? Because online dating allows us to. Is it harder to find the exact person you want if you’re not as good looking because online dating is heavily visual? Of course. So go to the gym, fat munch (don’t be offended, I’m saying that to myself, too).
Think about it this way, complainers. The burden of choice is wildly exaggerated. Brace yourself for another one of my trademark, overextended analogies so I can explain this better. Netflix might make it harder to choose a movie to watch because of all the options, but you can make a selection whenever you want to. Sometimes it’s not that you haven’t found the perfect movie for your mood, it’s your own damn insecurities and fickleness that cause you to continue scrolling and not click play on anything. And ultimately, “Blazing Saddles” is still a work of genius whether you choose it or not.