Modern love, or how finding a connection is harder than ever

Hookups are easy in today's dating scene, but finding that special someone has a new set of challenges. Photo: Sean McGrath, Flickr

Jocelyn Adkins, a 27-year-old assistant in nursing from Wilberforce, believes her age group struggles with commitment. Especially with the ubiquity of online dating, it’s easy to brush someone off without getting to know them.

“As soon as we don’t immediately connect [with someone] online, we move on,” she says.

“Rather than [considering that] maybe there’s something here, we just don’t put in the time to finding out about the other person,” Jocelyn adds.

The non-committal attitude in modern dating is attributed to the overwhelming amount of options we have when it comes to approaching partner selection. It’s also debatable whether or not it [being non-committal] may be a generational thing as well.

(Graphic: Mia Alcordo)

Anne Reilly, a Double Bay-based counsellor and psychotherapist who specialises in relationships and couples therapy, suggested the shift of gender roles and people’s reliance on technology today has contributed to the evolution of the dating scene.

“I think it comes down to choice and a change in gender roles and career choices for women,” she says.

“It could also be that we have become more anxious to approach someone in real life these days and feel more comfortable doing it through technology.”

Anne Reilly (Photo: Supplied)

“I believe that women and men no longer have so much pressure to have children and so they can choose to stay single or to choose to not live with partners or to have many partners.”

Anne Reilly

Over the years, relationships and our dating habits have evolved. In the modern age, plenty of us have deviated from traditional dating norms as social expectations towards relationships have progressed. We have also formed a more accepting attitude towards alternative relationship styles and conformed to technology’s calling.

Recently The List published an article explaining how dating has changed over the last 100 years.

Alisha Blake, a 28-year-old registered nurse from Five Dock, remembers the emergence of the popular dating app Plenty of Fish in her early 20s.

“We have too many options now. It’s too available. I think because of that, people don’t make an effort,” she says.

“You get a lot of emotional and social support just from your friends,” Alisha added.

Jourdan Bremmer, a 32-year-old client executive living in Sydney’s CBD, said that chemistry isn’t palpable when you’re not in the same room as the person you’re talking to online.

Jourdan Bremmer (Photo: Supplied)

“There’s no feeling involved, which I think is why people ghost each other all the time [online]. It’s like an investment. If you’re not invested, you’re not gonna really care about how they feel if you disappear.”

Jourdan Bremmer

Aiden Mackenzie, a 25-year-old entertainer living in Parramatta, thinks that online dating is good for those in long-distance relationships. “But then again, if you lose the face to face [interactions] and the actual physical contact, that can have negative downsides as well,” he said.

Aiden Mackenzie (Photo: Supplied)

With the advances of technology, online dating has become a staple in modern dating culture. The social stigma of swiping right and left or sliding into a stranger’s DMs on a social media platform has become defunct. Almost everyone is doing it.

According to ABC’s Australia Talks National Survey conducted in 2019, one-third of Australians met their partners online. Data recorded suggests that the popularity rate of dating app usage by Australians has increased annually since 2010.

Data collected by Statista on October 2019 reveals Australia ranks at number 10 globally – in terms of revenue contribution to major dating apps. Australian users are also in the top 5 for user consumption.

Australian dating app users by age (Table: Statista)

Today it seems that younger generations are taking many steps back away from traditional dating standards. Gen Z is recognised as being romantically challenged for their poor dating skills and are notoriously hook-up driven. More of them are also opting out of monogamous relationships and being label-free.

Psychologist and researcher, Dr Richard de Visser, contributes to the Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR). Data he recorded suggests that Gen Z is more likely to identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or other, with 39% of the student participants in his study attracted to multiple gender identities and the same sex.

A same-sex couple embrace. (Photo: Wendy Wei, Pexels)

Millennials are supposedly dating less, having less sex and marrying much later on in life compared to other generations. This was suggested in a study conducted by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who also serves as a consultant to the dating site Match.com.

Relationship expert Anne Reilly thinks that because we no longer have a need to meet someone for reproductive or financial reasons, polyamory and open relationships have become more accepted today – especially with the rise of the ethical non-monogamy trend.

“[We have also] as a western culture, moved away from religion and are therefore free to be more explicit with our choices,” says Anne.  

(Graphic: Mia Alcordo)

John Lopez, a 26-year-old student living in West Ryde, is originally from the Philippines, where monogamy and marriage are customary. He adapted to Western society dating standards after moving to Australia.

“I think it’s a cultural thing. In western culture it’s more OK to be single or have multiple partners. But the more traditional [you were raised] then there’s more pressure because of family expectations.”

John Lopez

Regardless of age, the social stigma around singlehood has shifted in today’s culture. The term “self-partnered” has paved the way for those choosing to remain single feel empowered, especially with its usage in pop culture. It’s helped destigmatise being single and content.

Although certain stigmas still exist – such as expectations on motherhood for women and middle-aged men being unmarried – the art of being single and living partner free is less frowned upon now.

(Graphic: Mia Alcordo)

The definition of love and relationship standards is a forever evolving thing. It’s something that is ultimately timeless. All humans yearn to feel connected to one another and in whatever way that may come, it’s proven that humans will adapt.

About Mia Alcordo 4 Articles
21-year-old journalism student.