It’s Not You, Dating Has Gotten Harder

It’s not uncommon for each generation to reminisce about the days of old. In any multi-generational conversation you’ll hear rumblings of how life was better, cheaper, safer… prefaced by the typical ‘back in my day’.

While opinions might vary on social issues or music, the reality is that dating has gotten harder for recent generations. Whether this was a strategic effort or a lack of one, you don’t need to be single to notice that dating has become challenging in ways it never posed a challenge before.

Common areas where singles struggle are meeting new people, getting a commitment, and establishing a monogamous relationship. In the decade that The Dating Truth has been online, our team of researchers have noticed extreme shifts in attitudes and behaviors amongst single adults.

So what is making an impact and what can be done about it?

If you haven’t already guessed, one main culprit and threat to dating culture has been online dating and dating apps. Not to be confused, they are not one in the same.

Digital Dating

The rise of dating online changed what dating was meant to be since it was first introduced into American Culture around the late 1800s. To understand the shift, you have to start with the error of interchangeable language of dating apps and online dating. The confusion of one versus the other makes the conversation of their impact hard to navigate.

Technology has always impacted the way humans engaged from behavior to speech. Online dating served as an extension of what dating had progressed to be. Dating apps created an entire new culture.

Meeting Someone Online

By the year 2000 the majority of new couples were meeting online. Online dating was a digital iteration of the personal ad. A resource that transitioned as most things did from print to digital, the personal ad was a widely accepted way for singles to meet other singles.

Creating a digital space for personal ads transformed into a marketplace that was the original online dating site. The leading platforms were and They served as pivotal resources for divorced and single adults who might have been too embarrassed to peruse a nightclub looking for love.

Online dating had another great ally when it came to fruition; the home computer. Divorced baby boomers could now use their home computer, while their children were asleep or away, and chat with other singles and start relationships.

This served as a critical foundation for online dating because older adults were only being introduced by the online platform. The dating started by actually going on dates. The platform was just a virtual club that served as a way to meet someone without leaving your home. The concept of a “date” was adopted by users and ultimately served as the purpose of the process.

Dating apps however muddied the landscape by making it possible to meet someone in a virtual space while in a physical one. Dating apps slowly whittled away the pure intention of meeting online for their own selfish benefit.

Swiping For Love

With the introduction of apps, dating apps created a unique and unprecedented situation for single adults. No longer were singles safe in their Cul de Sacs exchanging brief messages with potential dates in a 50 mile radius, they were now on the bus, the train, in the club and possibly on a date and swiping away.

The convenience and the gamification of dating apps introduced a new functionality which was validation. Dating apps made it possible for singles not only to be introduced to others but to rate their appeal in the marketplace.

Dating apps were never intended for singles to fall in love because that would be bad for business. If you meet on a dating app and ultimately find love the business loses not one but two users. To avoid such an event dating apps purposely designed FOMO into swiping to make it more of a game than a means to an end.

You may start swiping just for the instant gratification of knowing someone thinks you’re cute. No harm, no foul. Unfortunately, this created a false sense of connection and a serotonin driven behavior.

It didn’t take long for the purpose of dating apps to convert from a place to be introduced to someone new to a source of self gratification. Overtime, apps became tools to feel good about yourself instead of meeting people. Tinder even tried to incorporate a feature where non-single users could sign up and “swipe for a friend”. Clearly, the intent of the app isn’t to find a partner but to see what’s out there.

Again increasing FOMO for not only singles but those in relationships.

Dating apps didn’t want to take on all the blame for the corrosion of dating as a whole but their ability to change the culture of dating has had lasting effects in a very short amount of time. In less than a decade dating apps have transformed a culture from that of those looking for genuine connection to a method for scammers, F-Boys, and Instagram models to thrive.

Killing Conversation

The way humans communicate in a digital age has changed drastically over the last few decades. Most adults will admit that they rarely use their phone to call anyone. Conversations that start on a dating app rarely move from the app because texting is such a natural way of communicating today.

If communication is the cornerstone of any good relationship a textual introduction will likely generate a lot of miscommunication. The inability for years to send a voice message to a match made texting the sole source of communication. And once you start it’s hard to stop. Dating apps now allow for voice notes, video calls, and other sensory enhanced communications but only as a response to the pandemic.

It’s not that later generations don’t enjoy calling someone on the phone, it’s that they’ve never had to. They were never introduced to a culture of making phone calls like millennials. The home phone wasn’t available and forget ‘dialing out’ for pizza. Now, there’s an app for that.

These specific factors have made certain aspects of dating more challenging.

The Perception Of Options

At some point in your search for dating advice you’ll encounter two timeless adages:

  • There are plenty of fish in the sea
  • Dating is a numbers game

Regardless of whether you believe in these timeless sayings, dating online is that virtual sea. Unfortunately, the pool is contaminated with fake accounts, married adults, and other deceptive individuals – as well as genuine singles looking for love. The ability to weed through thousands of profiles to find the one is as productive as trying to find love in a crowded airport terminal.

Digital dating created a culture that feels that there is always someone at arm’s reach to date. While the average single might not utilize dating apps or online dating as frequently as they pretend, the ability to use them creates a false sense of security.

Life is far more shallow than before because our priorities when it comes to love have shifted. What is real and what is presented online aren’t always the same. There are filters and image enhancers that can paint a person in a completely different light than in reality. This ability to be superficial in who you choose to date was once unavailable when singles just met in bars.

Today, the assumption that you won’t know the real person on the other side of the app gives adults permission to lie a little themselves. Combined with a sense of hopelessness that comes with using dating apps, singles are being far more superficial than ever.

Ghost In The Machine

There is no doubt to any industry expert that dating has become far more difficult. One key reason is the lack of commonality. There is no standard of acceptable behavior and what has become acceptable like ghosting is detrimental to the process.

No clearer evidence in the shift in culture and standards is that of how often singles get ghosted. In earlier generations, after the date was planned it was possible to be stood up but that wasn’t common. Today the average single will be ghosted by someone they met online.

Online dating seems like a shield.

Almost like a lateral world where anything can happen and there are no consequences to what one says or does. Having a great conversation a week straight with a potential partner only to find they’ve deleted their account and you have no way to contact them is the reality of the modern dating world.

Digital dating has taught adults that it’s okay to change your mind and just leave the interaction, no explanation necessary. The permission dating apps have given adults to treat others in a way that would have been impossible decades ago has extended far beyond ghosting and continues to support almost unethical actions. Such as creating an account when you’re married or in a serious relationship.

If you feel that dating has become more challenging, you’re not wrong. Dating apps which were once an innovative way to meet singles have over time created an unhealthy environment for dating. The best singles can do is to find support in the process. The right resources will keep YOU focused on your goals and on the path to enjoying a love life you design.

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