Dating is never an easy feat. There are always the factors of trying to find the right person to date, gaining the courage to ask someone out, going on multiple first dates just to find a connection, and wondering if the right person is out there or if it’s all just a myth. But these days it seems even harder to make a genuine connection with someone. With the pandemic still underway, will it ever become easier? Masks make it harder to fully know what someone looks like, social distancing makes it so you shouldn’t just walk up to anyone and start a conversation, and lockdowns made us forget how to socialize in person. Though the pandemic may have made socializing harder, it is only one of many problems for Gen Z when it comes to dating. To find out more I sent out a survey to Agnes Scott students.
What is dating? Since I began dating, I have never found the definition of it to be the same for everyone. For me, dating means putting yourself out there and being vulnerable, but not too vulnerable, in order to get to know new people and discover what you want in a romantic partner. Eventually, it can become your reason for wanting to find someone to live with forever, but at first, it should be a way for you to discover yourself and other people, with the chance that it will lead to a serious relationship. In the survey, I asked what dating meant to respondents.
“I feel like dating is finding the one person you feel most comfortable with. Knowing there is love and respect between you two, you’ll make a point to grow and choose one another everyday. Most importantly, dating means work, it means time, and above all else, dedication,” said Kira Joyner ‘23.
As part of a generation born into ever-changing technology, technology has certainly become something that we lean heavily on for socialization. I enjoy it as much as the next Gen Z person does. But is it the best tool to use for something as tricky as dating? Dating apps and social media platforms are perceived as the main ways Gen Z finds dates. Swiping right then sliding into direct messages is probably the most efficient way today to grab somebody’s attention. However, it has also added a level of superficiality to any romantic relationship we may have. For example, consider the “talking” stage, where you talk to a person for a little bit of time before you even go on a date. This stage is good for weeding out creeps, but it’s frustrating when the relationship never progresses beyond it. It can feel like your time was wasted talking to someone you never even met in person.
Another aspect that makes dating apps seem superficial is hookup culture. It’s sometimes hard to gauge who is looking for a genuine relationship and who is on there just for sex. They could be disguising it as “looking for something casual” or “just looking for fun.” Out of the students I surveyed, 88.9% think people who are part of Gen Z would rather have something casual than a serious relationship, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you want.
But for the people who want something more than casual, it can be frustrating when it seems like everyone is just playing the game. Then, you have to watch out for the people who are just looking for friends or are only on there because it’s fun to swipe right or left and gain the validation they need from someone thinking they’re cute. I know we are young and finding ourselves, and dealing with multiple hardships that are out of our control; however, wanting a relationship with someone and potentially falling in love is not as selfish as some Gen Z may think. It also doesn’t mean that you need someone just for the sake of not being alone or that you don’t love yourself. It just means that you want a connection that you may not be able to get from anyone else.
In theory, dating apps could be a great way to find your person. But when you factor in the people who don’t use them for the reasons that you do, the success rate of finding someone on an app becomes appallingly low. Out of the people I surveyed, 77.8% said that it was harder to find someone to be in a relationship with rather than staying in a relationship.
“You have to dedicate so much time…to even get a single date, especially if you’re not looking for a hookup,” said Maggie Newman ‘24.
There has also been a rise in the idea that you don’t need a romantic partner in most parts of your life and that all you need is to learn to love yourself and keep yourself company. I’ve also seen this mindset surrounding friendships and cutting off people you think aren’t good for you. Considering that humans are social creatures, I don’t think it’s needy or indicative of a lack of self-love if you search for a romantic partner in a society that is so individualistic.
Dating can be an important part of someone’s social life. It can help you grow as a person and learn about what you like and dislike. Though some may disagree, it can also help you understand self-love and ways you can improve. The fact that it is challenging to date within Gen Z is frustrating because I believe that dating can be beneficial and fulfilling. And for that reason, it’s a challenge worth accepting.