The 2020s have catapulted America into a new era of humanity as we’ve navigated a largely digital world in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdowns, an evolution into virtual reality and the metaverse, and the growth of nontraditional trends in dating and marriage. In our increasingly divided culture, we’re losing the ability to connect in a meaningful and profound way, changing the trajectory of society. We’re fundamentally changing the nature of relationships day by day in the name of “progress,” but it turns out Americans don’t feel that we’re “progressing” at all.
A Pew Research poll released in late 2020 found that nearly half of Americans say dating has gotten harder in the last 10 years – especially thanks to the rise of the #MeToo era and online dating. Even worse? Nearly 70% of us say our dating lives are not going well, and 75% of us think it's becoming somewhat or very difficult to find someone to date in the first place! Yikes.
Dating and relationships can be a source of heartbreak, but they’re also a source of unparalleled joy. Strong relationships and marriages have the capacity to transform society – so it’s imperative we restore them to importance in America.
So, Why Are We So Miserable?
You would think we live in the most connected time in all of human history – never before have we had the capacity to communicate with our significant other or potential dating partners 24/7, 365 days a year through advanced technology. It seems, however, that the more connected we appear to be as a society, the more isolated we have become.
With school, work, and dating happening primarily online throughout the past two years, Gen Z and Millennials have been dramatically affected in particular. Depression has skyrocketed “from 8.5 percent before the pandemic to nearly 28 percent in late March and early April 2020 according to a survey of roughly 1,441 American adults published in the journal JAMA Network Open,” as cited in a Vox piece on the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent survey on mental health for Gen Z found young adults were “two to three times more likely than other generations to report thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide in the 12-month period spanning late 2019 to late 2020.”
We’ve swapped marriage with hookup culture, dinner dates with FaceTime, and commitment with the casual.
Though there are many factors impacting mental health in America, it’s easy to see how the rise of dating apps and online dating plays a part – we’ve replaced meaningful, long-term relationships with a visual marketplace of swiping left and right to determine our purely sexual attraction to someone. We’ve swapped marriage with hookup culture, dinner dates with FaceTime, and commitment with the casual. While we crave human interaction and intentional love, we’re settling for a simulated version of what we deserve.
The era of political correctness and cancel culture dictating society sure isn’t helping either. The previously mentioned Pew Research poll on dating satisfaction has found that people are unsure how to behave on dates in the 2020s, especially thanks to the #MeToo movement.
Men no longer know how to be masculine, women don’t know what to expect from them, and anything could theoretically be deemed as offensive – so we stop trying in the first place. No wonder we’re miserable!
Marriage Is Becoming a Thing of the Past
In the midst of our misery, we’ve seen perhaps our most important cultural institution start to disappear – marriage.
The CDC recently released the findings of a century-long report on marriage in America, conducted from 1918 to 2018. They discovered that by 2018, marriage rates in our nation dropped to a historic low. In fact, the 2018 marriage rate in America was the lowest since 1867, the first year the federal government began recording rates in the first place!
2018 marriage rates were the lowest on record in 150 years.
Rather than get married, young adults are choosing instead to date in perpetuity, forgetting that the purpose of dating is to determine whether or not someone would be a good long-term partner in marriage. Dating has become the end goal instead of the “interview for the job,” and as a result, our culture has embraced a half-in, half-out attitude toward relationships, rather than truly committing themselves to their significant other.
Nontraditional Dating Is on the Rise
With the institution of marriage on the decline, our culture has made way for a new era of dating, with a whole new set of values.
With sex viewed more casually, more and more Americans are watching pornography – in fact, 28,258 people have their eyes on porn every second, and 1 in 5 mobile searches on the internet are for pornography. For teenagers, the impact of the industry is even more profound. The average age of exposure to pornography for males in America is just 12 years old, and 57% of teens search for porn at least once per month. All of this is happening in spite of well-documented data proving pornography's link to sexual dysfunction, marriage problems, and mental health struggles.
Cultural and lifestyle leaders push for an end to intentional, monogamous relationships and usher in polyamory as a glamorous alternative to tradition – encouraging the next generation to date multiple people at once. TikTok feeds are filled with videos making polyamory the norm, and throuples win legal battles to have their names all included on birth certificates. Think this is a tiny minority of Americans? Think again – 1 in 9 Americans say they’ve already been in a polyamorous relationship, and 1 in 6 say they’d like to try one.
The Future of Dating
You’d think the push for sexual anarchy, polyamory, and pornography would make Americans feel empowered to do just about whatever they’d like, liberated from the chains of relationship norms from generations past.
Young adults would rather live in loneliness than risk the emptiness of modern dating culture.
Instead, though, young adults are looking around at the state of affairs in our country and deciding to not even put themselves out there to begin with. In fact, half of single adult Americans – and a majority of single women – aren’t on the dating market at all.
It seems the constant push for progressive culture isn’t actually progressing us, but regressing us to a heartbreaking reality – we’d rather live in loneliness than risk the emptiness modern dating culture is sure to deliver.
As free-thinking young women, perhaps we owe it not just to ourselves, but to our country, to tell the truth about the shortcomings of modern dating culture and point us in a new direction. The next generation deserves to know the truth about what they deserve and are worthy of receiving – nothing less than intentional, true love.
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