• Devyn Molina

It’s a match! Now what?

Navigating the woes and pros of the ever-evolving dating culture.

Image courtesy of Adobe.

Modern dating comes in many forms. Whether you’re searching for a hot summer fling, a one night stand or the love of your life, there is no longer a linear path to get there. Unlike our grandparents, the new generations aren’t meeting their future partner at a diner, splitting a milkshake, exchanging class rings and ‘going steady’. They’re texting each other back and forth on Bumble, swiping right on Tinder or liking a picture on Instagram as a form of flirting. Not only are there new forms of dating, the lines have blurred when it comes to defining a relationship. People of all genders and sexualities are ditching old-fashioned dating norms in an effort for any kind of companionship. From millennials to Gen Z, the new generations are forever changing dating culture as we know it.

The Dawn of Dating Apps

No matter what kind of relationship you’re looking for, there’s probably a dating app for it. Every few years brings about a new app making dating life much easier and accessible for those who don’t have time to scope out their potential lovers in person. With just a swipe, a simple message, even one too many emojis can separate you from what could be the next chapter of your life. Not that it has to be that dramatic, we’ve researched the top dating apps for all relationships.

Launched in September 2012, Tinder was one of the first dating apps to really shake things up. In an effort to find a potential date, users would be shown a series of images of singles in their area. That’s when the infamous ‘swipe left or right’ came into play. Initially based on physical attributes, the user would input their preferences along with their age, profession, social media links and a quick but engaging bio. If someone was interested, they would swipe right in hopes of being matched up and getting the opportunity to message them to further the connection.

Image courtesy of Thomas Patterson.

Shortly after its debut, Tinder quickly became known as the app for meaningless hookups and friends with benefits type of relationships. Choosing what pictures to use has become some sort of calculated science, making sure to show off one’s best angles in order to entice as many potential suitors.

Years before Tinder, Grindr, an app geared towards gay, bi, trans and queer people was considered the most popular gay dating app in the world. Like its dating app counterpart, Grindr is very photo-centric, mostly focusing on finding easy, anonymous sex. Members of the LGBTQ+ community attribute it to more of a sexual liberation rather than being used explicitly as a dating app. When using this app, it’s imperative that you specify whether you’re a top, bottom or versatile as well as your HIV status.

But before you enter the world of Grindr, it’s important you’re aware of the appropriate lingo when messaging another user. A simple “What’s up?” is actually code for send another picture and sex position preference. On the other end, “Thx” means move on quickly because they’re no longer interested.

Perhaps one of the most successful apps in terms of not just finding actual romance but also companionship and even networking opportunities, is Bumble. If you haven’t found your true love, you might have some luck on Bumble. Unlike other dating apps, Bumble’s revolutionary and progressive model allows women to take control and have the option to make contact first. This is an attempt to weed out the unsolicited messages from people who let’s just say, might not be on the app for the same reasons you are.

While Bumble still has users “swipe left or right”, it has made the extra effort to market each ‘match’ as more of a connection, giving each interaction a deeper meaning. In fact, Bumble has had a 39% success rate when it comes to couples finding their future spouse.

Risa Burke, 25, long-time dating app user was about to give up on finding love until she downloaded Bumble, “I used to lie about how me and my fiance met because I was embarrassed. I never thought I’d find love on an app but that’s probably what a lot of people’s stories are like. I can’t wait to tell our kids!”

Move Over Monogamy

After combing through the plethora of dating apps, finding yourself someone who’s interested is only half the battle. And if you thought you were finally considered “in a relationship”, oh don’t I have some news for you. Dating culture has taken all sorts of twists and turns in the last ten years but what seems to be becoming the norm is the unconventional types of relationships or the flat out refusal to put a label on anything. Monogamy has taken a backseat while people seek other options like open relationships, polyamourus, friends with benefits and what is usually described as “together but not actually together.”

Without knowing too much about open and polyamourus relationships, they can seem like the same thing. However, they each have their own set of rules that each participant must abide by.

An open relationship is a non-monogamous relationship in which two people can engage in physical or romantic relationships with other people. The couple does have the option of just one partner being in an open relationship but the only way to truly have a healthy open relationship is honesty. One of the biggest pitfalls with an open relationship is one or both of the partners might become jealous, feeling intimidated and threatened by their partner's multiple happy relationships. In order for this kind of relationship to work, both parties need to be on board. We all know how Ross Geller’s marriage to Carol ended, right?

Now here’s where polyamourus relationships differ in that there are more than two people in the relationship but they each share one main partner. Does that make sense? Basically, each partner can have other sexual relationships with other people like an open relationship, but the core relationship is usually two people sharing one person. While jealousy is one of the most common cons of a polyamourus relationship, relationship expert and author, Susan Winter, has praised these relationships by saying, “On one hand, polyamory and open relationships remove the secrecy and betrayal of trust that surrounds an affair.”

Friends with benefits is one of the more self-explanatory relationships. I’m sure we all remember that Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis movie, Friends with Benefits, which is pretty much just two friends fooling themselves into believing they throw casual sex into their existing friendship without falling for each other. If you’re considering getting into a sexual relationship with a friend, just know that you might accidentally catch the feels.

Last but certainly not least is one of the newer types of “relationships” to put it mildly and that’s considered as being with someone emotionally, physically and/or sexually, acting like a couple but not actually putting a label on it. So, you’re together but since there isn’t a label and you’re not 100% sure if it’s exclusive or not, you’re not technically together. You can have all of the aspects of a relationship without the potential heartbreak or commitment. It’s a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too type of the relationship.

While these relationships are breaking the societal construct, giving people freedom to casually explore their options without feeling the potential burden of commitment, it can potentially frustrate those who are looking for their happily-ever-after.

Image courtesy of Sticky, Sexy, Sad.

Still Getting Ghosted?

Navigating modern dating can be tricky. With the abundance of dating apps and technology evolving, we can get a bit swipe happy out of loneliness or desperation and lose ourselves in the process. Most of us at some point have experienced the sinking feeling of contemplating whether or not we should double text instead of facing the harsh reality that we just got ghosted by our crush.

But don’t give up on dating just yet. New dating culture has given us so many different avenues to find any kind of companionship without judgement. No matter what relationship you’re in, it’s important to know what you’re looking for to spare yourself the heartbreak. So, continue to dare to date, swipe for sex or message your way to marriage!