“Some people still catch feelings in hook-up culture.”
Of all the depressing lines spoken by young adults in the article “Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse’ in the September issue of Vanity Fair, that one takes the cake.
Meredith, a sophomore at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., explains that “It’s not like just blind f—ing for pleasure and it’s done; some people actually like the other person. Sometimes you actually catch feelings, and that’s what sucks.”
To clarify, what sucks is that there is really no room for “feelings” in the current mating culture.
Conservatives have bemoaned the hook-up culture that exists on college campuses and the after-college bar scene for years now.
But, as Vanity Fair demonstrates, apps like Tinder have brought us to a new low. From college campuses in Indiana to bars in New York City, men and women are using technology to find available partners in the vicinity, for one thing only: sex.
But this is more than a dating apocalypse. This is the marriage apocalypse.
All of this endless swiping is producing men and women who have an infinite choices of sexual partners with no strings attached. This can’t go on long before it has a serious effect on how you view members of the opposite sex. Examining your options seems to be never-ending these days.
In the past few decades, the average age of first marriage has climbed significantly — to all-time highs of almost 30 for men and 27 for women. And the marriage rates have plummeted. There were 31 marriages per 1,000 women in 2014, compared to 1920, when it was 92 per 1,000.
According to Dr. Susan Brown, co-director of the National Center for Marriage and Family Research at Bowling Green University, since 1970 the marriage rate has declined by almost 60%.
What’s doubly depressing is that has affected the poor more than the rich. For college graduates, the rates of marriage have been almost unchanged. But among those with lower incomes, it’s plummeting, which leads to a vicious circle.
Studies repeatedly show that children born out of wedlock have worse life outcomes — with children born to single mothers more than twice as likely to be arrested for a juvenile crime and a third more likely to drop out before completing high school.
But the Tinder Effect could throw the future of marriage at all income levels into chaos.
Reporter Nancy Jo Sales interviews are almost entirely with college students and college grads. They spend hour after hour swiping through people’s pictures and responding to the ones they find attractive.
As Alex, an Ivy League grad working at an investment bank explains, “you’re always sort of prowling. You could talk to two or three girls at a bar and pick the best one, or you can swipe a couple hundred people a day — the sample size is so much larger. It’s setting up two or three Tinder dates a week and, chances are, sleeping with all of them, so you could rack up 100 girls you’ve slept with in a year.”
It’s hard to imagine how such habits will be broken. Even the formula for success that has been drummed into the heads of middle-class kids — good education, good job, marriage, kids — will not be enough to stand up to 10 years of swiping for sex.
Skeptics will say that Ivy League grads working at investment banks have never had trouble finding sexual partners in New York. I have certainly known my share of them. They would yammer on about how many dates they would have to sit through before expecting sex — three was the max, I recall.
They would have first date, second date, and third date restaurants, representing how much they would spend to get a girl into bed.
It all seems quaint now. These apps have brought the men’s “game” to a new level. First of all, they never have to leave their apartments, let alone spend money on a date. Now it’s just messages like “Send me nudes.” Or “I’m looking for something quick in the next 10 or 20 minutes.”
As one young woman observes, “It’s straight efficiency.”
Some herald this brave new world. Aziz Ansari, a comedian who authored a book called “Modern Romance” with Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist at NYU, argues in Time magazinethat “Tinder actually isn’t so different from what our grandparents did. Nor is it all that different from what one friend of mine did, using online dating to find someone Jewish who lived nearby. In a world of infinite possibilities, we’ve cut down our options to people we’re attracted to in our neighborhood.”
But the truth is we are a world away from Ansari’s grandparents, whose relationship was arranged by their families. The families may have cut down their options for them.
But they were interested in producing long-lasting relationships with happy, successful families. People who look for matches inside their religious community to date have something very different in mind than those using Tinder.
Parents who read this article may comfort themselves with the thought that their own children would not engage in this kind of depraved behavior for any length of time.
That their daughters know better than to have sex with a guy they’ve never met who communicates with them entirely in emojis. That their sons have more respect for women.
But the culture matters.
And if a critical mass of women are willing to be used by hook-up culture, because that’s what all the kids are doing these days, it affects everyone’s prospects. Men too are allowed to live in a perpetual adolescence and never find out what it means to put effort into a relationship.