For every "heyy, wanna hang Friday?" text, there's a series of flashing "is typing" dots. Sometimes you're ghosted after what you thought was the best date of your life. And starting a relationship brings a whole new set of issues: to sext or not to sext, when to cue the Facebook status update, the dreaded de-friending of an ex.
Nobody understands the challenges of modern dating better than comedian Aziz Ansari. Ansari just spent the last few years of his life slicing open the realities of 21st century love and dissecting them, and the result is Modern Romance, out June 16.
The book is a collection of personal anecdotes, interviews from focus groups from New York to Paris and research from top sociologists, historians and pundits including Eric Klinenberg, Stephanie Coontz, Barry Schwartz and Dan Savage. Taken together, it's a record of our seductive yet precarious modern dating landscape and all that it's wrought.
Thankfully, it's not all depressing. "In a strange way, we're all doing it together, and we should take solace in the fact that no one has a clue what's going on," Aziz Ansari writes in the introduction. But Ansari has more clues than he gives himself credit for. Here are the seven universal truths the comedian perfectly captures from years of researching this complicated, delightful, frustrating and addicting thing we call dating.
1. Technology just looks like it's making things easier...
"Today, if you own a smartphone, you're carrying a 24/7 singles bar in your pocket. Press a few buttons at any time of the day, and you're instantly immersed into an ocean of romantic possibilities. At first, swimming through that ocean may seem amazing. But most modern singles quickly realize that it take a ton of effort to stay afloat, and even more to find the right person and get to shore together."
2. Texting has made it way harder to start an intelligent conversation.
"[I] wonder whether our ability and desire to interact with strangers is another muscle that risks atrophy in the smartphone world. You don't need to make small talk with strangers when you can read the Beverly Hills 90210 Wikipedia page anytime you want. Honestly, what stranger can compete with a video that documents the budding friendship of two baby hippopotamuses? No one, that's who."
3. Which is unfortunate, since your texting skills might matter more than your personality.
"One firm takeaway from all our interviews with women is that most dudes out there are straight-up bozos. I've spent hours talking with women and seeing the kind of 'first texts' they get from guys, and trust me, it's infuriating. These were intelligent, attractive, amazing women, and they all deserved better.
Some people say that it doesn't matter what you text someone. If they like you, they like you. After interviewing hundreds of singles, I can scientifically confirm that this is total bullshit."
4. It's easy to forget there are real people behind those profile pics.
"If you were in a bar, would you ever go up to a guy or girl and repeat the word 'hey' ten times in a row without getting a response? Would you ever go up to a woman you met two minutes ago and beg her to show you one of her boobs? Even if you are just looking for a casual hookup, do you really think this will work? And if so, do you really want to bone someone who responds to this? Yet people send these kinds of text messages all the time. I can only conclude that it's because it's so easy to forget that you're talking to another human being and not a bubble."
5. You know someone likes you when they basically stalk you.
"Sometimes there's another reason that people take so long to text you back: They aren't playing mind games or busy. They're just GOOGLING THE FUCK OUT OF YOU."
6. Simply put, online dating is freaking exhausting.
"Online dating is like a second job that requires knowledge and skills that very few of us have. In fact, most of us have no clue what we're doing. One reason is that people don't always know what they're looking for in a soul mate, unlike when they're picking something easier, like laundry detergent (big ups to Tide Mountain Spring — who doesn't want to their clothes to smell like a fresh mountain spring?!)."
7. But, don't worry, it's all getting better.
"Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations — but you're also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about."