Dating has gone through some major changes over the years.
The rules regarding how singles meet, where they go and who foots the bill are a lot more fluid than they were just a generation ago.
Apps and the internet can expand your dating pool far beyond the boundaries of your immediate neighbourhood and allow you to gather intelligence on a person before you meet face to face.
But there are some aspects of dating in the 21st century that are a lot more complicated and potentially more dangerous than what your parents had to deal with.
Social media can tell you too much about a potential partner and it can tell others too much about your relationship
Social media is one of the best ways to get the dirt on a potential partner without having to hire a private investigator. A quick scan through their friend list and photos can give you a closer look at their political views, hobbies and even what they had for dinner last night.
But all of that information can come at a price. Knowing too much about a potential partner before you even meet them can lead to you walking into a date with a preconceived notion of how that person is going to be. If you already think you have your date all figured out, you might see them only as you want to, as opposed to how they actually are. Plus, a first date is always more fun if you actually have things to talk about that you don’t have to pretend you don’t already know.
Dating in the age of Facebook and Instagram can also be complicated – especially when you’re still trying to decide how to define yourselves. Seemingly simple decisions like posting a picture of the two of you together or changing your relationship status to make your coupling Facebook official, can become problematic if you’re not ready to share your news with your best friend from third grade and your Great Aunt in Iowa.
The definition of a date has changed
For your parents, a date may have looked something like this: your father picked your mother up from her home – probably with a bouquet of flowers in hand – escorted her to dinner or a movie, and dropped her off at her door with a polite promise to call her in the morning.
Today, a date can be anything from meeting your partner and a bunch of friends at a bar to Netflix and chilling at home. And while one could argue that any time together can be quality time, it can be easy to get complacent and let these kinds of less-than-romantic options become the norm.
Figuring out who pays is much more complicated
As the rules of dating have evolved, so have the rules regarding who foots the bill. Back in the day, it was understood that when a man asked a woman on a date, he was also accepting responsibility for paying.
But today, it’s just as likely that either party is doing the asking. Expecting anyone who self identifies as a man to pick up the tab could be perceived as either totally chivalrous or totally sexist. Unless you’ve both agreed on who’s paying ahead of time, you could find yourself doing the awkward pay tango at the end of your meal.
Texting makes dating much more impersonal
Gone are the days of sitting by the phone waiting for your crush to call. Having a mobile phone can make communicating with your date a lot more convenient. But those pesky little devices can also be extremely impersonal.
Deciphering emojis and abbreviations in a text message can leave a lot open to interpretation – or worse, misinterpretation. And if you’re out with someone who’s constantly checking text messages and Facebook updates, mobile phones can be a huge distraction.
Online dating can be misleading
Online dating is an increasingly popular way for singles to connect with one another. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Research Center, 59 per cent of adults believe that online dating is a good way to meet people, up from 44 per cent in 2005. And while online dating can be a great alternative to bar hopping, you can sometimes find that a profile that catches your eye is not an accurate representation of the person who shows up on the date. A 10-year-old profile pic, an inflated resume or an omission of important facts can make you think you’re dating someone you’re not.
Hooking up on the first date is much more common
The art of courting is dying a slow death in modern dating culture. Because sex on the first date (or even before the first date) is more socially acceptable, singles who are just interested in hooking up don’t have to spend a lot of time working for it.
Back in the day, your parents dated with their eyes on the ultimate prize – marriage. Today’s singles may eventually want to walk down the aisle, but for the most part, they aren’t in a rush.
According to a 2014 Gallup poll, 20 per cent of millennials aged 18-30 were married, compared to 36 per cent of those who form Generation X and 48 per cent of baby boomers when they were at the same age.
STDs are more prevalent than they used to be
The consequences of having sex are a lot more serious today than they were when your parents were dating. According to the 2016 STD Surveillance Report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), STD rates in the United States have increased for the third year in a row, with over 2 million reported cases of chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis combined.
Although, information about the importance of practicing safe sex is more accessible today than it was for your parents, the risks of contracting an STD are much greater. Back in 1981, The New York Times was the first publication to report on HIV in 1981. But according to the CDC, HIV was the 8th leading cause of death for people aged 25-34 in 2014.
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