Do you ever feel like traditional dating is dead? I know I’ve been there, struggling with the single life, wondering if people still actually went on dates.
But is dating a thing of the past?
Dating is not a thing of the past. Pew Research clearly shows that traditional dating has transformed into alternative forms of dating, but dating is still very much alive. Alternative forms of dating include casual dating, non-exclusive dating, open dating, hooking up, and more.
But why does it feel like traditional relationships are dead? Why does it seem like everyone is hanging out and hooking up instead of going on actual dates?
Let’s find out.
The Dating Dilemma
People from this generation are now faced with a dating dilemma.
Due to the increased availability of social media and cell phones, it is now much easier for people to find and date more people. But that also comes with a major downside. It’s also easier to find another option.
We have apps like Tinder, Bumble, Plenty of Fish, Hinge, (even Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc) that are supposed to help us find relationships and end long-distance loneliness.
However, they also give us so many options that it’s hard not to wonder if there is someone better out there.
Thus, many daters encounter so many options it makes it almost impossible to choose and commit to one person. Even when people do commit, the apps make it easier to cheat.
All of our technology makes it easier for anyone—including exes, orbiters, and even interested strangers—to contact us anywhere and at any time. Technology doesn’t guarantee cheating, but it does make it more accessible.
In an article on Fairviewer, Cassidy Mckeen said it well: “If I wanted to go on a date, I would time travel to any era but this one.”
Is Dating a Thing of the Past? (The Statistics)
According to Pew Research, “47% of Americans say dating is now harder than it was 10 years ago, while 19% say it’s easier and 33% say it’s about the same.”
Here are other results of their research:
- 67% of respondents said that their dating relationship is not going well.
- 75% say they found it difficult to find someone to date in the past year.
- 65% of the public says the #MeToo (and related) movements have made it harder for men to know how to interact on dates.
- 62% say casual sex is perfectly acceptable between consenting adults.
The research also reported that single people don’t feel pressure from friends, family, or society to find a partner.
Roughly half of all single people in the survey said they are not even looking for someone to date.
There has been a decline in marriage, romantic relationships, and even long-term friendships among today’s younger generation. One statistic that exemplifies the dwindling number of long-term love partnerships is from the American Sociological Association study, “The Changing Landscape of Love and Marriage.”
These statistics indicate that is it often hard to find someone to date, and also that traditional dating is not as common as it was in the past.
5 Great Reasons Dating Is a Thing of the Past
Many people think dating is a thing of the past. I don’t blame them! There are at least five great reasons.
Five reasons dating is a thing of the past:
- The Loose Definition of Dating
- Dating apps
- Instant Gratification
- Dating is hard
The Loose Definition of Dating
One of the reasons many people think dating is a thing of the past is because there are so many conflicting definitions of dating. Different generations have different views about love, relationships, and dating.
The line between dating and hanging out is blurred. People will date casually for months before realizing they want something more. They may never realize it or even want it.
What is dating?
There is traditional dating, casual dating, friends-with-benefits, hanging out, talking, and hooking up—to name a few different forms of dating. The definition of dating is so confusing that I wrote an entire article titled “Is Dating a Relationship? (Fully Answered)“
My simple (and inclusive) definition of dating is when two people who like each other intentionally spend time together.
This definition works because it cuts through the confusion. It also applies to just about any form of dating.
Dating App Disaster
Another reason that dating is a thing of the past is technology.
After my divorce, I entered a dating scene that had drastically changed. Gone were the days you met someone in person. Now, you were weird if you didn’t sign up for dating apps and start swiping.
Dating has gone by the wayside because of speed dating, dating sites, and virtual dating. Online apps like Tinder and Hinge have made it easy to hook up with multiple people instead of committing to one.
Donna Freitas, a professor and author of The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy, says, “Many students today have never been on a traditional date.”
Many young adults have curved traditional dating for more casual relationships.
Popular songs, movies, and TV shows glamorize a string of partners instead of the more challenging but generally more satisfying traditional relationship. But, while we may lack intimacy, there have never been so many options from which to choose.
It’s hard not to think it would be easier or better with someone new.
We live in a world of instant gratification. If we want to meet someone new, the means are at our fingertips. We have option overload.
Don’t like someone (for any reason)? It’s surprisingly easy to replace them.
When our wants change constantly, we can scratch that new itch with a swipe. We are living in a time of what I call “context collapse.”
Context collapse refers to the merging of two or more contexts——in this case, casual dating and hooking up.
In our “pre-context collapse” world (when casual dating wasn’t so merged with casual sex), you may have had one offer from your friend’s brother who was just getting divorced at age 40.
In our context collapse world, however, you also have a few other offers on the table. And so does he.
Dating Is Hard
Dating is difficult. Dating apps have made it easier for people to find dates, but in the end, dating is still quite hard.
In fact, I wrote an entire article explaining why dating is harder now for men. It’s also harder for women (and everyone).
It’s not easy meeting someone. Even if you do meet them, there are so many different things that can turn a date sour: from awkward moments or lack of chemistry all the way up to physical violence, emotional abuse, and even rape.
Traditional dating takes planning, texting, time, and money.
Then there is the endless drama of merging two people in relationships. Most people avoid conflict and will choose any other available option.
If you add in our endless day-to-day obligations, children, stress from work or school, and so on—traditional dating is often a nightmare.
And I’m not just saying we’re all too busy to go out there looking for someone new. Yes, we are busy, but we are also tired, distracted, and done with drama. That brings us to MGTOW.
MGTOW means Men Going Their Own Way.
MGTOW is a group of men who are fed up with the dating scene. MGTOWs believe that dating has become too demanding and they can no longer continue to meet the demands, so they choose not to date at all. This is why many will say, “I’d rather be alone.”
MGTOW believes that it’s better to not date. They believe that it’s better to avoid the trouble of having a girlfriend or wife.
Some people think MGTOW is just another form of antifeminist extremism. Other people might say, “Those guys are just losers who can’t get a date.” But, in reality, many men (and women) are choosing to not date.
The MGTOW movement has gone through many changes and phases over the years but it still manages to stay alive today. With the prevalence of social media like YouTube and TikTok, the MGTOW movement is perhaps bigger than ever.
The growing popularity of this cultural phenomenon is one reason for the decline in traditional dating.
Reasons Why Dating Is Not a Thing of The Past
Dating is different but it is not dead. Dating has transformed and modernized with technology, societal expectations, and shifting cultural values.
In a world of apps, many people have found that meeting someone and getting to know them has become more casual and less formalized. Many people feel less pressure to find a partner, have more options, and enjoy casually hooking up more than the difficulty of a more committed relationship.
Dating may seem like a thing of the past for those who miss traditional connections like meeting in person or meeting through friend groups.
Yet, half of the single people in the United States are still looking for someone to date. This large group of single people still want to find a dating partner, go on dates, and eventually enter a long-term, committed relationship.
Fewer people might be dating, but dating is far from a thing of the past.
Consequences For Society
What does the decline of traditional dating and relationships mean for our society?
Again, Pew Research offers some answers:
- Less married neighbors, which means fewer social role models for long-term committed relationships.
- The number of marriages in the United States has fallen to a 40 year low (53%). These trends show that most people no longer feel like they have to settle down with one partner anymore.
- Most people don’t see marriage as essential to life satisfaction and happiness.
Another consequence of the decline in traditional dating is the rise of casual, serial dating relationships. Instead of settling down with one partner, people are more likely to just date casually or have a series of different partners throughout their lives instead.
It’s hard to say what these trends mean long-term.
However, it’s probably a good idea to embrace the evolving definition of dating because it is likely here to stay.
Is Online Dating a Thing of the Past?
No, online dating is not a thing of the past. Data results from Pew Research show that most people have tried online dating. According to Google Trends, however, online dating has declined in popularity over the past five years.
In a recent Pew Research study, it was found that nearly 100% of people have used online dating. LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc.) adults are twice as likely as heterosexual/straight people to use a dating platform.
Most people (57%) said that online dating was a positive experience. However, only 12% of those dates turned into a long-term commitment or marriage.
A Fortune.com article says that online activity on dating apps like Tinder and Bumble has surged since the Coronovirus of 2020. In fact, research from a 2019 Stanford study shows couples are more likely to form relationships through online dating than any other avenue.
Closing Thoughts: “Is Dating a Thing of the Past?”
The following TEDx video does an excellent job of summarizing the points in this article about “Is dating a thing of the past?”:
The way we date is changing, but it’s not dead. When you think about the traditional dating scene (going out to dinner and a movie), this has largely declined in popularity while casual dating has increased markedly.
In fact, the majority of all online daters are looking for friends or relationships that last less than six months.
And yet, I believe there’s hope because many people still eventually want committed relationships despite how they meet each other today.
Check out some of my other articles on the topic of dating: