Valentine’s Day comes as a reminder of what we believe to be ‘old-school’ love in an age of seven-second TikToks. Flowers, chocolates and fancy dinner dates make a comeback this time of the year – but the way we date has changed, and with that, so has our perception of love and romantic relationships (or situationships, if that’s what you and your SO prefer to call it).
We reached out to marriage counselor and psychologist Shivani Misri Sadhoo to help us reflect on the most prominent of these changes. According to her, dating apps have broadened the pool of people one can meet, exposing them to individuals they may not have met otherwise.
“The overall attitudes toward dating have shifted now, people usually decide by just swipes here and there before going on a date with someone,” Sadhoo says. “It has somewhat made people rush into things, even before checking other important factors. Perhaps, one can say that people are not willing to give that much time or energy while looking at or getting to know the person they want to date. From a relationship counselor’s point of view, I feel any relationship demands a certain time one needs to invest before jumping in straight away.”
She notes that several people are in a hurry to judge their partner, and those who feel like they don’t want to wait much may end up committing to or rejecting a person too early.
We also wanted to know from our youth community how online romances have worked out for them. Uzair, 21, says he met his girlfriend on Bumble. “Our first date was virtual because she was travelling. That’s considered very normal now, but it wouldn’t be so maybe even 10 years ago. It does require patience because it is very convenient to just unmatch or ghost someone on a dating app. You need to be patient enough to give it a chance.”
Moreover, it is not just the mediums that have changed, but also our understanding of relationships, whether virtual or IRL. Take situationships, for instance – most of the perks of a romantic relationship with none of the labels. It has made things easier for some, but difficult for others who would much prefer a commitment. New and complicated terminology might seem overwhelming, but there seems to be more space now to discuss boundaries and enforce them. Young people have a greater awareness of their needs and how they can be met – that’s why they’re able to reflect on whether they’re being ‘gaslit’ or ‘love-bombed’ or ‘breadcrumbed’.
Sadhoo has observed that nowadays, couples are far more vocal about their preferences. “It is very common to see couples bring up issues such as poor communication, lack of physical intimacy or emotional boundaries. It is not bad at all to raise these issues. Also, women particularly are more educated and have financial independence. Thus, they are more confident. Perhaps, that was something couples from other generations were hesitant to discuss, especially female partners.”
Isha Rohira, 24, who says she recently got out of a long-term relationship, shares her thoughts too. “Social media becomes like a sounding board when you don’t know where to turn for advice. I have found people going through similar problems online and talked to them about it, which helped me vocalise my concerns to my ex-boyfriend. Advice from the internet is not 100% reliable though, I take it with a grain of salt, but it is still helpful to know that you are heard.”
The internet has now been around for as long as most of Gen Z can remember. Online dating is not new territory. However, navigating romantic relationships in age of Bumble and ‘rizz’ (slang for charisma or game, but more on that here), can still feel overwhelming. Even if dating apps have been unsuccessful experiments for you so far, it’s helpful to think about how our increased exposure to the internet and social media has been changing our relationships in both conscious and unconscious ways.