19 People Describe Modern Dating In One Word, And It's Complicated

What comes to mind when you think of dating today? Maybe it's that awful date you cut short when your phone vibrated and you "found out your friend was in the hospital" and had to run. Maybe you think of rainbows, butterflies, and attractive people in bars. Whether you're frustrated with the dating scene or you're like a kid in a candy store, I'm sure we can agree on some common themes in modern dating: hookup culture, instant gratification, label-less relationships, ghosting/flakiness, and endless options (on your phone, at least). Clearly, this is not your grandma's dating scene. But if you had to sum it up your dating life in one word what would you choose?

It's safe to say what dating means to you is influenced by several factors, from your previous experiences to your attitude on it. "Shifting your own narrative can be powerful in keeping your mindset positive,"Life coach and author, Sarah E. Stewart, MSW, CPC, tells Bustle. "Instead of saying: 'I went on this awful date with a guy who definitely isn’t someone I’ll see again — another Friday night wasted!' you say, 'Well, I met an interesting person who I’m not compatible with, but now have a funny story to tell the girls over wine night.'”

But what about where you live? A study by dating platform Badoo earlier this year named Norfolk, Virginia as the best place to find love in the U.S. and New York City as the worst. And considering dating's gender ratio that Jon Birger points out in Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game, straight single women are at a disadvantage in several big U.S. cities. As a New Yorker, I can attest to the fact that a big city is awesome when you're single and not looking but it's certainly tough when you're looking for something more serious. I've heard from dating experts that dating is "worse" in LA versus New York. A close friend in Chicago told me that the dating scene is full of bros. But what about a smaller city like Boston?

I recently went to the Boston launch party for The League, the dating app for busy young professionals who hate dating apps. The selective dating app, which screens users before taking them off a waitlist in San Francisco, New York, LA, and now Chicago and Boston, aims to create a close-knit community within the platform. Members can create interest groups with group chats (like running clubs and bar scouts) and also organize events.

Inside the Liberty Hotel, I met ambitious singles from Boston who were at all stages of singlehood — single AF, single and loving it, single and hating it, newly single, newly single and in an open relationship, single and not ready for anything too serious, single and where the f*ck is my person?!

To get a better idea of what dating in Boston is like, I asked singles to describe dating in one word. They gave answers all across the board, from "pathetic" to "exciting." Honestly, I've probably agreed with every single one of their answers at some point in my single life. Perhaps what was most noticeable was the difference between the one-word (and sometimes two-word) answers given by men versus women. It makes total sense — single women are constantly made to feel bad about their status by society, nosy relatives at holiday gatherings, and lonely cat lady memes, while single guys are thought to be ~living the dream~ . In general, women at the party conveyed that they were burnt out with dating, while guys were enthusiastic — at first glance, at least. Several guys gave me extremely positive answers but then went on to explain that they were actually kinda over it and ready to meet someone already. Maybe we all do feel similarly about dating, and it really is all just a matter of perspective.

Take a look below at how singles describe dating:

1. Jess

"Pathetic."

2. Gerald

"Yes."

3. Christina

"Awkward."

4. Tara

"Obnoxious."

5. Steven

"On-demand."

6. Alice

"Unpredictable."

7. Thomas

"Irresponsible."

8. Meredith

"Empowering."

9. Drew

"Fun."

10. Annoying

"Annoying."

11. Nelson

"Novedad." (Novelty)

12. Ashley

"Clusterf*ck."

13. Ken

"Send help."

14. Serendipitous

"Serendipitous."

15. Rachel

"Adventurous."

16. Greg

"Exciting."

17. Lily

"Effort."

18. Mike

"Tough."

19. Matt

"Always winning."

Images: Michelle Toglia