In case you haven't heard, journalist Nancy Jo Sales of The Bling Ring fame is making waves again, this time for spilling a piping hot batch of truth tea about the current state of dating. The piece, aptly titled "Tinder and The Dawn of the 'Dating Apocalypse,'" was published in the September issue of Vanity Fair, and calls attention to the ways in which Tinder and similar apps have changed dating and sex — for better and for worse.
The magnetic pull of dating apps is, at best, hard to ignore and, at worst, an addictive poison that causes us to have our eyes glued to our phones at all times while our thumbs get a rigorous workout. Although it was only a handful of years ago, it's hard to remember a time when the words "right" and "swipe" meant nothing when side-by-side. Like any good Millennial, though, I've embraced the technological advancements that have forever altered the dating landscape, and fully submit to the crazy world of online dating (while still subconsciously hoping that I might meet a mate ~in the wild~ someday).
Sales hits the nail on the head with many of her points, but overlooks the fact that, like it or not, dating as a twentysomething has always been a mess, even before the onslaught of hookup apps. Although her piece largely focuses on the hookup culture as it pertains to Wall Street bros and sorority girls, it still rings true in many ways to the rest of us, who have no doubt experienced a similar love/hate relationship with Tinder.
Below are four things the "dating apocalypse" piece gets totally right, and four things that might be open to some interpretation.
1. Truth: Finding A Mate Is Easier Than Ever
I doubt anyone could deny that Tinder, emotional sinkhole though it may be, nevertheless makes finding someone to have sex with extremely easy. Gone are the days when you were forced to don your smartest outfit and present yourself to potential suitors at a bar or other social watering hole if you wanted to get some action. Now you can post up on your couch with a bottle of Yellowtail and swipe to your heart's (or genitals') content. This may be a sad reality, but I'm not going to complain: Thank you, Internet, for making everything easier, including getting laid. (Quality may vary.)
2. Truth: There's Still A Dating Double Standard
Some of the men Sales interviewed were under the impression that they had all the emotional power in the Tinder game: They assume that, if asked, any given girl they're hooking up with would gladly enter a serious relationship with them. Elizabeth Armstrong, sociology professor and gender/sex expert, points out that this is indicative of the gender inequality many women still face in the dating world. Indeed, the "men want sex, women want love" trope is still a common misconception, despite the seemingly obvious fact that men are capable of desiring intimacy and women are likewise capable of seeking out no-strings-attached sex.
3. Truth: Tinder Makes The "Competition" Of Dating Worse
I cannot tell you how many times I've thought things with a guy were going great, only to wake up one day and realize that he thought the same about me — and also five other girls simultaneously. As Sales points out, many guys (and girls, presumably) view dating as one big game, and are constantly "on the prowl" for better, hotter partners. With such a large pool of options, it's understandable that people are overcome by the temptation to keep searching, even if things with one person are looking promising. Though this behavior can be emotionally damaging, it's an unfortunate inevitability of dating — until someone is really ready to settle down, they're unlikely to turn over a new, monogamous leaf.
4. Truth: We Aren't Going To Stop Using Tinder
Despite its pitfalls, there is no turning your back on Tinder once you've been sucked in. The piece opens with a realistic portrayal of the addictiveness of Tinder: Girls, while hanging out at a bar, swipe left and right, saying "Tinder sucks." But, as Sales notes, "They don't stop swiping." I'll make a simple analogy: If you have a functioning cell phone, why would you actively choose to use a payphone again? The point of technology is to make our lives easier, and it would be counterproductive to revert back to our old ways once presented with a faster, more efficient way of doing something — even if that thing is finding a romantic partner.
1. Myth: The Mess Of Dating In Your 20s Is All Tinder's Fault
Let's be real: Dating has always sucked, with or without the Internet. Though it would be nice to blame one app for all of our heartache, we should face the fact that with or without Tinder, we would likely get our hearts broken many times over in our twenties. The first girl to get dumped via voicemail probably decried the invention, thinking her pain would have never been possible without the machine housing the tape on which her tragic breakup was recorded. The supposed "dawn of the dating apocalypse" may not be a dawn at all — dating has always been a crapshoot. To be fair, the increased volume of dates we're all going on thanks to Tinder may consequently increase the number of times we're emotionally slighted, but that still doesn't mean that it's all Tinder's fault.
2. Myth: People Are Getting Laid More Than Ever
Sales interviews several men who rattle off names of ex-lovers and claim to have slept with dozens — nay, hundreds — of women. Although this may be true of those men mentioned in the piece, Millennials in general are actually having less sex than previous generations. The average number of sexual partners for our generation is eight, compared to 11 for those born in the '50s and '60s — aka our parents. While it's undeniable that Tinder helps make casual sex easier to find, it doesn't mean that everyone is getting laid four times a week like some of the Wall Streeters mentioned in Sales' piece.
3. Myth: The Sex Is Mostly Awful
Several women, who are sorority members at the University of Delaware, opened up to Sales, noting that they're not even really getting off during these mediocre hookups. While this may be true for the small sample that Sales includes in her piece, Millennials at large are actually closing the orgasm gap — so it seems sex is getting better, not worse. Perhaps due to their willingness to use toys in bed, women in their twenties and thirties are having more orgasms than ever. On the other hand, it's understandable why Tinder hookups may be less than satisfying: If you're newly acquainted with someone, you may not feel comfortable enough to tell them exactly what you need to achieve orgasm. IMHO, women should take a leaf from Nicki Minaj's book and demand an orgasm, every time.
4. Myth: Love Is Dead
Sure, the piece may not say this outright, but after reading it through, it's hard not to be a little alarmed at the state of the dating landscape. With so many people admitting outright that they're players who are only interested in bagging as many babes as possible, will we ever really find a worthwhile partner? To put it simply: Yes, you will — eventually. Like all good things, love comes to those who wait. Unless you're extremely lucky, you won't find a forever partner without several long, grueling years of dates ranging from awkward to hellish. Whether you're an avid Tinder user or not, dating is difficult and messy. Accept this, present your best self, and be confident that one day you'll find the person worth who makes it worth slogging through the terrible mess that is dating in your 20s.
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