If you get your hands on a copy of Aziz Ansari's Modern Romance when it's released on Tuesday (and you should!), you're not going to find a traditional humor book. And that's a good thing. Modern Romance is something a bit more unique: a comprehensive, in-depth sociological investigation into the "many challenges of looking for love in the digital age." If you're anything like me, I'm sure you're reading that sentence and wondering, What does Aziz Ansari know about dating? Well, the answer is quite a lot.
To write Modern Romance, Ansari partnered up with Eric Klinenberg, a professor of sociology at New York University. The pair conducted a "massive research project" to look at the state of love and dating today that involved focus groups in many different cities, as well as interviews with leading experts in the field. Ansari pulls from his own experiences, and isn't afraid to get personal.
Modern Romance gives an impressive overview of how the dating game has changed with the advent of cell phones and the Internet. But there's also some practical advice peppered in there by Ansari himself — like these seven tips on dating advice in the digital age:
A Personalized Message Is Usually Better
It turns out that "writing a standard message and then copying an pasting it to initiate conversations [on OkCupid] is 75 percent as effective as writing something more original." This is fine if you're looking to go on as many dates as possible, but if you're really looking to impress a lady or a gent, writing something personalized is usually better.
"After seeing hundreds and hundreds of messages in women's phones," says Ansari, "I can definitively say that most of the texts women receive are, sadly, utterly lacking in either thought or personality." If you want to stand out and seem like you're actually interested, send something more personalized than "Hey," "Hey!" "Heyy," or any variation thereof.
Be Forward and Be Specific
Ansari found a lot of bozos in his research who were just sending the generic "wuts up?!" texts, but "We also found some really great texts that gave me hope for the modern man." There where three specific characteristics that separated the bozos from the gentlemen. First, it is a "firm invitation to something specific at a specific time." Second, there is "some callback to the last previous in-person interaction." And, finally, it is funny. If you hit all three of these points when asking someone out, you're setting yourself up for dating success.
Follow the "Monster Truck Rally" Theory
According to Ansari's research (and personal experience), most people go on "boring-ass dates. You have coffee, drinks, a meal, go see a movie." But he talked with a sociologist at Stanford University whose colleagues brought their dates to a monster truck rally. Yes, a monster truck rally. It sounds a little bit absurd, but that's exactly what made it a perfect date activity.
"Instead of the usual boring résumé exchange," Ansari writes, "the couples were placed in an interesting environment and got to really get a sense of their own rapport." Going on interesting and unique dates like this, even if it's not actually to the monster truck rally, will "help you experience what it's really like to be with this person."
Remember There's a Person Inside the Text Bubble
"As we see more and more people online, it can get difficult to remember that behind every text message, OkCupid profile, and Tinder picture there's an actual living, breathing, complex person, just like you. But," Ansari implores the reader, "it's so, so important to remember this."
When you're dating online, you're still dealing with people, and forgetting that human element is how the modern dating game has become so skewed.
Give the Other Person a Chance
Ansari refers to it as the "Flo Rida Theory of Acquired Likability Through Repetition" (and believe me when I say this makes sense if you read the book). But at some point, Ansari realized he was going on "a lot of first dates but not as many third dates," so he switched up his strategy a bit. Instead of going on four first dates, he would go on four dates with one person.
"If I went out with a girl, and the date felt like it was a six, normally I wouldn't have gone on a second date... With this new mentality I would go on a second date," and that second date would be way better than the first. Invest time in the people you're dating, and you'll be more likely to build a healthy, happy relationship than by bailing if it's not perfect right off the bat.
Live a Responsible Life, Meet Responsible People
Ansari spent most of his 20s as a single dude, going out to bars and clubs until closing time. He described himself as, "the hopeful romantic who would stay out till 4:00 A.M. every morning, worried that if I went home, I'd miss that magical, amazing woman who showed up at the bar at 3:35 A.M. After many late nights and brutal mornings, though, I realized that most amazing, magical women don't walk into a bar at 3:35 A.M."
Instead, his friend reminded him that the best way to meet a responsible person was to live a responsible life, so Ansari started going to "do things that I'd want a theoretical girlfriend to be into. I went to more museums, more food events, more low-key/interesting bars at earlier times, and things got better."
There's nothing wrong with partying until the early hours of the morning, but if you are trying to meet someone to settle down with, try doing the things you'd want to do when you are settled down, not just bar-hopping.
Nothing Beats Spending Time Together in Real Life
Online dating is a means to an end, not an end itself. Ansari talked with an online dating consultant who "advises her clients to exchange a maximum of six messages before meeting off-line... 'Online dating is just a vehicle to meet more people,' she says. 'It is not the place to actually date.'"
Ansari adds, "With all our new tools for connecting and communicating, there's still nothing more useful than actually spending time with a person face-to-face." So if you really want to foster a modern romance, spend more face time with the person, instead of screen time.
Images: Giphy (3), Getty Images