We live in a culture where the best of everything is at our fingertips: food, clothes, technology, and so on—so naturally why wouldn’t we apply this mentality to relationships? The problem is that spending your time looking for the right one could lead to disappointment. Think about it: How many people do you need to meet before you know you’ve found your perfect match? The truth is it’s impossible to know. You could meet someone amazing who checks off everything on your list, and still feel unsure that you’ve made the right decision because the more options you have, the less satisfied you are with the decisions you make.
Unfortunately, this “grass is greener” mentality of the millennial generation prevents many people from sorting through issues in their relationships. With the belief that even if they break up with their significant other, most think they can meet another potential partner in the next 10 minutes from simply signing on to their online dating profile. Studies show that as a result of our digital culture our generation essentially has the attention span of goldfish.
In his new book, Modern Romance, stand-up comedian and actor Aziz Ansari explains this “paradox of choice” and how it has impacted our decision-making in the context of dating and relationships. I’m a huge fan of his stand-up, so I already had high expectations prior to reading it—combined with the fact that I am a member of the millennial generation, so everything he wrote resonated with me. Written in an intuitive, entertaining and relatable way, Ansari captures the essence of the modern dating struggles. He answers many of the questions that plague our generation: If I am asking someone out on a date, which method of communication should I use? Will I look desperate if I answer his/her text right away? Did that text seem rude because I forgot to add a smile emoji? Did I just ruin my chances of a future with this person?
In one of my favorite sections Old Issues, New Forms, Ansari covers everything from sexting and cheating to snooping and breaking up. While technology has made cheating a lot easier, it also makes it easier to get caught. It reminded me of the time I stopped seeing someone because I accidentally stumbled across his “Tinder” list on Snapchat. Yikes.
Ansari nails it: “Today if you own a smart phone you are carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket. Press a few buttons at any time of the day, and instantly you’re immersed in an ocean of romantic possibilities. At first swimming through that ocean may seem amazing. But most modern singles quickly realize that it takes a ton of effort to stay afloat, and even more to find the right person and get to shore together.”
Being flooded with options raises another question: How does our increase in choices influence our ability to commit? Ansari interviewed people all over the world, and found that in New York City (the place with arguably the most options), people found it harder to settle down. As a New Yorker, I smirked when I read this because it’s so true. Almost every twenty-something I know who lives in the city is happily single and enjoying the crazy, wild journey. When I break up with someone, of course I’m upset, but part of me isn’t because change is in my nature. The best way I can describe our generation is explorers—finding our careers, moving out on our own, traveling to different parts of the world and meeting new people; basically, learning to thrive in a constantly changing environment.
Finding love today may be more complicated than it was for older generations, but on the plus side, Ansari explains we’re also more likely to settle down with someone special who fulfills our needs on different levels—the one perk of our generation’s extremely high standards.
Single people have two choices: They can choose to feel defeated by the challenges of our digital culture or enjoy the ride. I guarantee those of you who choose the second option will have much more interesting stories to tell your grandkids.