This Is What It’s Like Dating As A Millennial Women

 

Credit: Unsplash

 

“As men, we read between the lines. This is the decoder for what women say: “big boned” means ‘I can destroy your car’s suspension’, looking for a “real man” means ‘I need a chump to raise me bastards’, “No games” means ‘You will become my slave and I will get even fatter’. Why take a risk on meeting someone who already lies from the beginning? It’s easier to assume they aren’t worth your time.” says Brandon*, 31, London, UK.

“Ghosting, breadcrumbing, or zombiening is par for the course. There is safety behind a device-you don’t owe anyone anything.” James, 27, LA, CA.

“She whines and complains that the ‘relationship does not move forward’. Yeah, no shit! Because you’re one of those people he uses as a booty call, but you’re so arrogant that you actually think he’s into you (he’s actually way too good for you, and you know it, which is why you jump for joy at his “crumbs”). Don’t be that girl.” explains Monica, 29, NYC, NY.

Online dating is common practice, leading people on is common practice, and blowing people off is becoming common practice. It’s not that people do these things; it’s that their behavior is being driven by technology. The same technology that is rejecting people via a swipe. No explanation needed – effortless dismissal. It acts as protective factor to cope with the rejection, but it’s also an illusion. Dating is creating a paradox effect: giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options.

It’s the trolling of dating.

As a behavioral scientist, I found these answers illuminating and wondered what impact this has on people’s real dating options. Do you have the luxury of feeling this way in your 20s when it appears you have an abundant supply of people to choose from? But, what happens to your self-esteem when it becomes consistent rejection and your selection pool starts to shrink? Is it harder to get commitment in a tech-driven world? How has sexual practice changed in the digital age?

According to Lindsey Cummins, Co-Founder and CEO, of Winq reports that:

  • 44% of our users think technology makes it very difficult to approach people IRL
  • 65% of our users consider sex a screener for a possible future relationship
  • 62% of our users wait a few months before asking for exclusivity, while 38% ask after just a few weeks
  • 68% of our female users say that when a guy won’t commit to them, it does affect their self-esteem in some way

“In general, as a culture, we’ve reached a sort of pinnacle of the hook-up era, or a ‘dating apocalypse.’ Since that’s the case it’s sort of ingrained in Millennials to jump headfirst into the sex end of things, then explore the relationship part afterward. Apps like Tinder reaffirm this thinking and behavior in their own ways.” explains Amanda Chatel, Sexpert.

I asked two prominent thought leaders, Jon Birger, Author, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game and Leading Sexpert Amanda Chatel, for their opinions and some solutions to this problem.

Jon Birger, Author, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game

In light of your eye-opening research, why is it difficult for women to ask men for commitment after they’ve been dating for awhile?

“For the past 15 years, we’ve had 4 women graduate from college in the US for every 3 men. The end result is a college and post-college dating market in which men have all the leverage. Research on sex ratios and their effects shows that when women are in oversupply, the whole dating culture is looser and less monogamous. Men become choosier and less willing to commit, simply because they have so many options.”

What are some solutions you propose?

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Marriage ultimatums. “In the business world, as in the romantic one, ultimatums succeed because they create artificial scarcity in an otherwise abundant marketplace. They make us want more what we fear we may lose.”

Geography matters. “If moving is something you’d consider — and I realize it’s not a viable option for many women — cities like San Jose, Calif. and Seattle, Wash. do offer much better dating math for women. It’s not a coincidence that the marriage rate for women in Santa Clara County, Calif. — which is a good geographic proxy Silicon Valley — is off the charts and the divorce rate is less than half the national average. When women are scarce — as they are in regions dominated by the tech industry — the culture is more monogamous.”

Dating working class guys. “My best advice to educated women is to consider dating working class guys. A college degree does not make someone a better wife or husband.”

What’s the best way to meet them?

“My best advice would be un-check that college-grad box online. And offline, maybe skip the wine bar on the Upper East Side and try a fireman’s bar in Brooklyn instead.”

Amanda Chatel, Sexpert.

For those seeking commitment, should they modify their approach as Birger suggests?

“For starters, a woman doesn’t need a man to complete herself or her life. Something I want to yell from the rooftops! Secondly, she shouldn’t “un-check that college-grad box” in the name of finding love. Sure, competition is rough out there, but I think the second we start telling women to change who they are, change what they want for themselves and in a partner, everyone suffers. What kind of working class guy wants to think he’s only dating because the woman in the equation ‘couldn’t get anything’ else?”

Why are some millennials more interested in having sex first and exploring the relationship later? Is it a screener? What are the advantages of this method for women?

I wouldn’t call it a screener as much as it’s simply about being the product of a culture that has finally loosened up about sex. We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where women are “allowed” to embrace their sexuality and don’t feel shame in not waiting to have sex. The advantage that comes with this for women, more than anything, is the power of knowing you’re owning the sexual side of you, you’re not sticking to antiquated beliefs of how a woman should “behave.” It’s ultimate liberation – that’s the advantage of it. To quote Gloria Steinem, “A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after.”

Is sexual exploration helping women have better sexual experiences?

Absolutely. In fact, there’s no doubt in my mind that sexual exploration is helping women have better sexual experiences. Without exploration, and lots of it, one would never know what they like and don’t like; it’s basic math. The exploration of one’s sexual self should be a life-long endeavor, even after one gets into a relationship.

When women who want commitment and don’t get it, how does it impact self esteem?

For starters, a woman could put a spin on this by telling herself she doesn’t want commitment with that person anyway, that she’s better without them, and they’re not deserving of her time. If this is how she spins it, then her self-esteem is impacted for the better. On the other hand, if she lets someone’s desire to not commit to her be something personal, then her self-esteem can be impacted negatively – something that shouldn’t be the case, but if it is, then there’s nothing wrong with sitting with those feelings, then moving on to something bigger and better.

*For the purposes of confidentiality, names have been changed.

 

Are We Technically Dating?

Credit: Andreas Joachim Lins

 

More and more our digital dating world keeps coming up with new terms for bad behavior. Thought it was just happening to millennials? Think again.  My Happiness Hypothesis study found that it is happening across the globe to both men and women for millennials and GenX. Many are experiencing it, but don’t know there is a term for it. It is creating the paradox effect in dating: the illusion of having more social engagement, social capital, and popularity; but masking one’s true persona and intent. Since some are interfacing digitally more than physically it is much easier to emotionally manipulate others because they are reliant on what I call “Vanity Validation“. Their digital persona is constantly seeking more validation through electronic likes/swipes, not life experiences.

Social media creates global connectedness, sharing life events, dating ease; but it also can create lower self-esteem, obsessive social stalking, and “Vanity Validation”. Has social media facilitated suboptimal dating behaviors? Have we become too reliant on checking social? How has it impacted our dating lives? Has it become easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb in today’s digital world? Are we causing self-inflicted pain while dating? For the Happiness Hypothesis Study, I conducted in-depth interviews with men and women, ranging from ages 28-73, that are active online dating app users and found that:

  • 80% reported it being easier to ghost, bench, gaslight or breadcrumb because of the lack of communication and face-to-face interaction
  • 80% of millennials reported having experienced ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing firsthand
  • 45% reported the average length of dates in between ghosting someone was 8
  • 50% reported an average of at least 3 months before reaching out again to the person they ghosted

Meanwhile the other person waits to hear back and wonder why they weren’t worthy a response. These current dating trends are just an extension of how we use our social media. We’re treating people like we do our social media streams. The shiniest object is what we stop at, then move onto the next shiny object. But, there is a vicious cycle to these dating patterns. What fuels it? Social media! Being connected to the person that has ghosted, benched, gaslit or breadcrumbed can have detrimental effects on your self-esteem. When I asked how often do you check the social feeds of those that have expressed some form of interest in you? 90% said daily. Once they have had a ghosting, benching, gaslighting or breadcrumbing experience, it becomes weekly for 70%.

Are we creating a false reality? What is it doing to our sense of self? You’re a backup plan, but they text or reach out often enough to confuse you just in case their plan doesn’t work out. Are we becoming more narcissistic? Are we becoming more insecure? Has this behavior become normative? Is technology driving dating, sex and emotion?