If you told someone 17 years ago that dating would happen inside your phone it would have been a funny thought. But these days, online dating is increasingly common for 18-25-year-olds. With the rise of apps like Tinder, matchmaking and hook-ups have now become the common practice for millennials. But the fear of awkwardness, commitment and emotional pressures are struggles that millennials are trying to overcome.
As a generation, we often see articles about millennials dealing with expensive housing, crippling debt, dependency on technology…and the list goes on. Gen Y is often targeted as the ‘lazy generation’, and we are identified as being too privileged. Baby boomers probably still think most us live in our parents’ basement. But in the dating scene, we have the luxury of finding sex at our fingertips. Millennials have been dubbed as the ‘hook-up generation’ but that may not be the case. Recent studies show that we may be having less sex than the other generations. According to the Journal of Sex Research, only 31 percent of college students in the U.S. reported having at least one sexual partner in the last year.
The question remains, are dating apps really helping us? “I think we are more awkward than ever,” said Julie, a fellow millennial. She recalls her experience getting Tinder and meeting up with guys for sex. “This was so easy,” she said. Julie is one of the many people in their 20’s struggling to find a common connection with their age group online. “With over a thousand matches I’ve only come across like 2 or 3 guys that are looking for a serious relationship.”
Matchmaking apps seem to only amplify the complexities of dating.
The convenience of swiping right/left, or picking through a plethora of faces near your area does give off a sense of laziness and immaturity between us twentysomethings. It plays into the egotistical and shallow nature many of us are known for. Furthermore, millennials have this obsession with online perceptions and personas exemplified through the platforms of Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. We see a motif of trying to upkeep a lifestyle or look “cool” for our fellow peers and audiences.
Millennial dating trends have also seen practices like ‘ghosting’ come to light. The phenomenon is now called “the millennial way of breaking up” and many find it infuriating or just plain rude. It is a prime example of young people struggling with emotional confrontation. One article by the Rolling Stone suggests that “we are a generation in an Internet limbo, nostalgic for a childhood when the World Wide Web was still new while being forced to accept a technology-dependent society in adulthood”. Millennials are still trying to find out who they are. For the next generation who will grow up with the Internet, they will either embrace online dating or reject it altogether.
A survey from the Pew Research Center found that only 26 percent of millennials are married, compared to 36 percent of Gen X, and 48 percent of Baby Boomers when they were the age of millennials.
Millennials are known for our distrust with organised religion and government, and our attachment to social media. We are burdened by university debt, and in this endlessly complex search for love, we are in no rush to marry. As a generation, we are more open-minded, and more informed than generations before us – and we’re optimistic about the future.
As we try and redefine dating and deal with identity crises whilst keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of technology, we pose the lingering questions of the 21st century.
Feature Illustration by Shannon Smith – Instagram: @shannons_myth