In the last two decades dating has changed greatly. Justin Garcia, a researcher in the field of gender studies says, ‘we are in unchartered territory.’ And it is hard to dispute. With the ever-growing popularity of dating apps, the ‘hook-up culture’ is permitted to blossom in millennials.
We live in a reasonably sexually liberated society, where the guilt and judgment of sexual needs are distant. People are freer to express and seek their sexual desires, but this begs the question to what degree – if any – is the drawback of actively seeking multiple partners for casual intercourse, rather than a long-term partner? Does hook-up culture promote a decline in monogamous relationships?
Updating the dating lingo
The cultural revolution of ‘hook-ups’ has emerged from a variety of social shifts during the 21st century. ‘Hook-ups’ are defined as a sexual ‘rendezvous’ with the assumption of it being brief and uncommitted. Hook-ups have become normalized amongst young adults. Statistical research demonstrates that one in two-thirds of young adults in the Western world would regularly hook-up.
The appearance of the term ‘hook-up’ in our vocabulary concurs with the start of online dating nearly twenty years ago. Moreover, the development of smartphones originated the more convenient and high-speed world of online dating apps, Tinder being the most popular with over 50 million users worldwide. Tinder’s reputation – rightly or wrongly – has emerged as a ‘hook-up’ app. The app places minimal importance on both emotional commitment and high physical importance through the platform design swiping swipe right (‘yes’) or left (‘no’) based on the appearance of the picture. In the age of social media, instant gratification comes at a premium. This undeniable shift in the dating dynamics and culture is definitely causing some long-term consequences – like the nature and likelihood of monogamous relationships.
Evolution vs. smartphone
Monogamous relationships have a long evolutionary underpinning for humanity, all in favor of ensuring the survival of offspring. By providing a child with two parents who are in a monogamous relationship is likely to ensure stability. Originally, our species evolved in small groups of around thirty individuals at the most, very different to our current social networks and possibilities. This was also true for the dating scene, unlike our vast possibility of prospect at our fingertips due to the evolution of smartphones and dating apps.
Both biologically and evolutionary, men are more predisposed to have an increased tendency to sleep with multiple partners to increase their chances of producing an offspring than do women. Thus, dating platforms and apps have increased the likelihood of meeting or ‘matching’ with someone, resulting in more ‘hook-ups’ and subsequently declining monogamy. Moreover, it could be argued that certain dating apps like tinder have skewed people’s expectations of what romance is – how it develops and maintains outside the online platform.
According to an abundance of research on relationships and the use of dating apps, it was found that when all variables are equal, single people who are not on dating apps have greater wellbeing and life satisfaction than vice versa. It is suggested that dating app users are exposed to ‘ the paradox of choice’, which simply means they are presented with too many potential options creating an infinite expectation of superiority at every swipe.
Well, what can all this mean? The reality is with an unlimited array of choices people may be less likely to maintain their current relationships by moving on to something easier. In the age of instant opportunity, why waste time when something better might just be a swipe away? This state of affairs is not the only directive to a road away from a monogamous lifestyle, but a path to even thinking of monogamy as boring and unmodern.
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