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Thursday, 15 March 2018

From dating to swiping to nowhere?

In the 1970s and 1980s, I was merely focussed on studying and graduating. I didn't have much of a social life. My parents may have gotten worried that I would never leave home. They urged me to find a girlfriend. However, access to personal computers, internet, and mobile phones only became (slowly) available as of the mid 80s. Hence, dating opportunities were limited.

In those days, it was unclear who was single and interested in dating and/or a relationship. This information was only available within your own immediate neighbourhood. Newspaper ads were the most common way of finding a romantic interest. The Saturday newspaper usually had some 100+ advertisements which read like short stories.

Responding to such an ad required sending a letter to the relevant newspaper department, while highlighting the unique code of the advertisement in the top left corner of the enveloppe. It could take a few weeks before the newspaper sent the response to your response. That was the first time that you would have any contact details, or a rejection letter without, or nothing at all.

Even with newspaper ads, the availability of dating opportunities was (very) small. Today, we swipe from one person to another in the numerous dating apps that are available. The investment in time and emotion is minimal. A recent Big Think video by Christian Rudder, president and co-founder of OkCupid, talks about "What Online Dating Tells Us About Human Relationships".

I think, feel, and believe that human relationships are changing because of the sheer volume of available (global) dating opportunities. Mr. or Mrs. Right may appear on your screen by just another swipe in a dating app. However, the dimensions of quality, quantity, time and space (ie, location) usually have a complex relation.

The large number of available dating candidates automatically reduces the available time per individual candidate. This is just mathematics. Why bother investing in a relationship if/when a candidate has a flaw? The grass is always greener at the other side of the fence. That other side of the fence is the huge remaining pool of dating candidates.

I think, feel and believe there is a huge growth in Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships as a result of the above. Why invest in living together if living apart covers your downside risk (future break-up) and also allows for an immediate upside potential (remaining dating pool)?

Technology offers near-perfect risk management strategies at the expense of the classic "fulltime" relationship.

"We're all just looking for Mr. Swipe Right." (image source)

Swipe (2014) by Miracles of Modern Science

I’m a part looking for a whole 
And my heart’s a hungry animal 
So if I whet your ample appetite 
Go ahead and swipe me to the right


Note: all bold and italic markings by LO unless stated otherwise