The Future of Dating

Dating is changing so fast.

It wasn’t all that long ago that you had to use a dial-up modem on a desktop computer to meet someone online.

Dating sites were considered “risky” and “dangerous” compared to putting an ad in the personals section of your local newspaper.

Technology changes so fast that it wouldn’t surprise me if a new technology replaces dating apps, just as dating sites replaced lonely hearts ads.

Yet with all the focus on how technology is changing dating…

We miss the larger trends right under our noses.

Dating is changing all right, and it’s not because of technology alone.

The world is changing, and it’s changing us with it.

What we expect from our relationships, what we want in a partner, and the role of relationships in our lives are measurably different than they were 50 years ago.

You need to know what’s ahead so you can be prepared.

Here are 3 trends happening now that will shape the future of dating.

Trend #1.
Marriage no longer means what it used to.

Traditionally, marriage was a rite of passage.

It signaled the end of youth’s playfulness and freedom. A married person took their place as an adult, with duties and responsibilities.

Today, the role of marriage is diminishing. You no longer have to be married to feel like an adult.

Half of Americans believe that “society is just as well off if people have priorities other than marriage and children.”[1]

Only half of men and women who’ve never been married say they would like to marry someday. Single women are equally likely to say they don’t want to get married as men.

What does this mean for the future?

People will be spending longer stretches of their life being single.

Society will adapt to meet the needs of singles better than it does today. It will become easier for single people to buy a home on their own or have children on their own.

The stigma surrounding being unmarried will decrease. Being single will be seen as a personal choice, rather than an indication that you couldn’t find the right person to marry you.

New forms of relationships will arise to meet people’s needs. No longer will “casual relationships” and “long-term relationships” be the only two choices. Couples will find new ways of honoring their commitment that don’t necessarily require a wedding ring.

Trend #2.
Emotional intelligence is essential.

For most of human history, it was very difficult to survive as a single person.

You needed the support of your family or spouse to grow food, obtain shelter, and stay safe.

Because of this, when it came time to marry, love wasn’t part of the equation. Marriage was about the practical support and resources a spouse could provide.

That only began to change less than 200 years ago—a blink of an eye, in historical terms!

Today, we don’t remember a time when love didn’t matter. Most young people dream of falling in love, even if they don’t dream of getting married.

We believe that love is the glue that holds a couple together over the long haul.

Unfortunately, the rise in divorce rates suggests that love can’t keep couples together as well as survival concerns did.

What does this mean for the future?

The traditional traits that made a suitor attractive—wealth, status, resources, robust health—are fading in importance.

What singles today want more than anything is a deep connection: emotional, physical, and spiritual.

Men and women who’ve learned how to connect heart-to-heart, support each other emotionally, and hold their partner’s dreams will become the much-sought-after singles of the future.

Trend #3.
Buyer beware.

Before the advent of modern dating, a man would come courting at a woman’s home.

Her parents would look him over and make inquiries to find out what kind of man he was.

If a man had a poor reputation or was advertising himself falsely, the woman’s family would find out.

That all changed when young men and women began flooding to the cities in search of work in the 1900s.

For the first time, these young people were unsupervised. They were living in boarding houses, and they had money of their own.

As they met and mingled with other young men and women, they didn’t know anything about their new friends. A man could claim to come from a wealthy family, and there was no way to doublecheck his claims.

It became easy for young men to mislead young women (and vice versa).

Jump to today, and online dating has exacerbated this problem.

All you know about a man is what he says about himself. You don’t know if it’s true. You don’t even know if he looks like his picture.

What does this mean for the future?

Modern consumers are much more aware of misleading marketing tactics than consumers in the past.

They don’t take what they see online at face value. They know how easy it is to be deceived.

This skepticism will serve them well in online dating.

In future, more and more singles will use marketing techniques to burnish their online profiles. These profiles will reflect an idealized version of themselves.

Singles will come to expect a disconnect between the way a person appears online and how they are in real life.

Some singles may choose to conduct relationships exclusively online, where they can be their ideal self without the constraints of who they are in real life.

Meanwhile, others will only want the real thing: a real partner in real life.

How do you feel that dating has changed since you first started out?

Let us know in the comments!


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