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Dating and Courtship in the Digital Age



Eugene Gan - published on 06/11/15 - updated on 06/08/17

What it means for us and before you know it, for our kids

TIME magazine’s latest exposé on the modern dating scene purports to lay out the reality of contemporary digital courtship. Written by comedian Aziz Ansari, the article “Everything You Thought You Knew About Love Is Wrong” , and “Love In The Age of Like” (print), attempts, not so much to “dig into singledom,” but “chips away at the changing state of love.” Last I checked, love has been, is, and always will be about Our Father God who is Love, making us in love to love, but we’ll hold our collective tongue and consider a few of these “novel notions” if only to reach others where they’re at.

According to the article, the online dating industry is currently a $2.4 billion money pot teeming with folks searching “for soul mates, whether we decide to hit the altar or not,” but the technology that we carry around with us is altering our choices, the way we make decisions, and how we interact with others. The immediate and continuous access to the digital cloud gives us the impression (illusion?) that we have an endless supply of possible partners. But as the article aptly points out, more choices doesn’t necessarily mean increased satisfaction, and I might add, peace of mind. Our innate drive to “seek out the best” is constantly fed by our access to multiple options online. The article provides a good example of a “pretty boring guy” who writes off a beautiful woman “with a witty profile page, a good job, and lots of shared interests, including a love of sports” saying, “Well, she looks O.K. I’m just gonna keep looking for a while.” When asked what was wrong, his reply was, “She likes the Red Sox.”

At the same time, USAToday reports that the “American marriage rate hit a rock bottom of 50.3% in 2013.” Compare this to 1960, when 72.2% of Americans married. Or how “41% of babies born today are born to single mothers — that’s 2.5 times as high as reported in 1980 and 19 times as high as in 1940.” Concurrently, “a new finding by the forecasting firm Demographic Intelligence, suggests marriage rates will continue falling into next year as Millennials choose to opt out of traditional relationships,” opting instead for cohabitation. The report declares that the decline in marriage is seriously and negatively affecting the economy since “marriage and family also provides a sense of stability that encourages prosperity.” When people marry and have children, they buy homes and many other things that support family life. The U.S. government isn’t helping this bleak scenario: married couples get hit with a higher tax bill “because two incomes often put a married couple in a higher tax bracket than they’d be in as individuals living together.”

Online dating services are also discovering that we don’t know what we’re looking for, and if we think we do, we’re either wrong or making choices that don’t match what we said we’re actually interested in. We even run the risk that our online profiles become idealized versions of ourselves that don’t match reality. It seems we’re forgetting two fundamental points. One, that none of us is perfect, and two, that we’re constantly growing and changing. Growing and changing for the better we hope, but changing nonetheless. Added to this seemingly endless array of options is how our age of Photoshop permits flawless portraits that leave us seeking an idealized perfection that doesn’t exist in reality. It’s sad that in this context, “searching,” not “settling” is the new buzz word.

Furthermore, the print article’s sidebar, written by OkCupid’s founder Christian Rudder, contends that “religion is irrelevant. However central religious belief may be to our 15 million users’ personal lives, in online dating it is marginal.” The simple explanation for this is of course how we view our faith. Is faith merely “religion” or a reality, no, more than that, a loving relationship with our God and savior Jesus Christ, in our daily lives? You’ve heard of a love triangle. Well, the Christian marriage is truly The Love Triangle with both partners at the bottom vertices and God at the apex. The closer each partner draws to God at the top, the closer they draw to each other.

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