Dating as a millennial is hard. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and the pressures of having a date are even greater. Numerous ads are offering gifting discounts and dinner coupons for couples and it seems intimidating.
Dating in general isn’t an easy process, as it involves getting to know a new person. As with the digital age, sliding into social media direct messages is the new “Hi! Nice to meet you.” Swiping left or right is the new “shooting your shot.” And don’t even get me started on Snapchat, where people randomly send selfies to a bunch of people.
What really ticks me off is the low effort on dating apps. All you get is one chance at an impressive tagline and a touched-up photo and you’re forced to make split-second decisions. Furthermore, there is an implicit hierarchy with dating algorithms that evolve every day and lead to more social exclusion. Highly selective filters make it more like shopping online for a dress of a particular size and color rather than an ideal match and/or long-term companion.
You will never find a person that will tick all the boxes, which makes finding a match unnecessarily hard. It is more about finding a partner whose values align with you. Then you and your partner can do the work to build a future together.
We can further talk about labels, which make most people want to run for their lives. Before moving to the U.S., I was familiar with labels like “no strings attached,” “boyfriend-girlfriend” and “dating to marry.” There is a new term I learned from my Gen-Z counterparts called “hanging out.” It’s a more casual version of dating, mainly focused on low commitment and effort, but focuses on always having a good time. The definition varies from person to person, so it is essential to define the relationship and communicate clearly what it means to the both of you.
As a person who recently got out of a long-term relationship, I recognize the appeal of not labeling a relationship as one. I myself am opposed to the idea of dating to marry but I still find non-committal relationships problematic. I like putting effort into relationships and genuinely developing feelings even though it’s at a slower pace than usual. I feel that sense of safety that comes with a “no label” relationship is overpowered by the anxiety from not being able to control what it is.
Dating as a millennial bisexual gets even worse. Especially when female bis are considering straight guys to date, the guys tend to casually hint at a “menage à trois.” And there is also this misnomer that bi people are more likely to cheat. Being attracted to both genders might mean they have a bigger pool to pick from but that doesn’t implicitly imply wrong intentions or bad character. I think they deserve the same respect a cis woman would get.
In a world that takes pride in its hook-up culture, is a dinner date with a walk in the park too much to ask? Is old-school chivalry out? Can two people who are genuinely interested in each other date without complicating things or getting into a situationship?
I think — secretly — we’re all looking for a love like the one in “Brooklyn” by Midnight: “I'll cover you in winter/ Like a blanket by the fire/ And when the rent's too high/ We'll just buy cheaper wine” kind of love.
Sanjana Jairam (she/her) is a first-year graduate student studying data science.