On airplanes, I’m one of those guys that listens to rap and plays flappy bird until he passes out in a back-breaking position. But for some reason, everytime I travel I find myself in the airport bookstore pretending to act interested in a book. I know I should be more productive with my time; it’s just so hard for me to stay awake on planes. Recently, I found myself picking up and putting down the same book, Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. I’d pick it up thinking, ‘damn this guy is so funny’, and then put it down thinking it would be all jokes and I’d rather listen to his stand-up comedy. A few weeks ago I picked it up again, except this time I read a few pages (until a few pages became 20) and then put it down. When I got to my gate I overheard two girls discussing what books they were reading, or recently read, and they both mentioned Modern Romance. That was it, I needed it; I pulled out my iPhone and bought it to read on the plane. I got through a fourth of the book on my flight from Madison to Dallas; not because it’s a long flight, but because the book is hard to put down.
Modern Romance perfectly captures all of my feelings regarding dating, meeting people, and our tendencies once we do find someone, and I KNOW I’m not alone. Every point in this book will have you grimacing, thinking ‘yea, I’ve done that’, or ‘yea, I’ve been there’. The first chapter dives into our need for a soulmate and how we try tirelessly to find the perfect person; what we don’t realize is that finding a soulmate (or even being allowed to search for them) is a new luxury our parents and grandparents didn’t have. For instance, my grandpa met grandma through one of his cousins that knew her and her family. Aziz points out in the book (and references other studies and works of literature) that this was very typical back in the 30’s, 40’s, 5o’s, and a touch of the 60’s. Grandma and Grandpa didn’t have Tinder to search their entire area code for potential mates, or Facebook to go home and creep on the hottie they saw at the speakeasy. No, Grandpa heard about Grandma from a cousin, took her out on a few dates and decided that she’d be able to make him happy, and give him kids. Grandma (at this point when I say Grandma, I’m referring to women of the era) saw Grandpa (again men of the era) as a good enough candidate for marriage and a way to move out of Mom and Dad’s house. This was one of the most eye-opening themes of the book; how much not only dating has changed, but the motives behind dating. Our grandparents, and their parents weren’t looking for a soulmate, they were looking for someone that was good enough, which is why they were getting married so young. Now, we spend the better part of our twenties dating, sleeping around, and experimenting hoping we’ll find that special someone that is absolutely perfect.
Sexting, Snooping, and Swiping.
We’ve all done it, all three, don’t lie to yourself. During the project, Aziz put together focus groups and posted on subreddits to poll people for information regarding a variety of topics, including sexting, snooping, and swiping. Now as an offender of all three, it was nice to know that I wasn’t alone (not that I really believed I was). Not only did people confess to partaking in the above activities, they also explained why; this is where it got interesting, because everybody had different reasons.
One woman might send a sexual picture or message to her man because it makes her feel sexy, and she feels empowered by her ability to turn her man on and keep his attention; but another woman might send a similar picture or message because she’s worried her man is out looking at other women. Same crime, different motive. The woman in the first scenario seems to have a stronger relationship, more certain, stable and comfortable.
Snooping is no different, strong couples don’t snoop. There are testimonies of people saying they snooped around (with no good reason other than suspicion) in their partner’s e-mail, texts, and so on just to admit they wished they didn’t. Finding something as small as a guy you do not know saying ‘hey’ to your girlfriend in a text or Facebook message and your head spins out of control; who is he, are they banging, is she cheating, does she love him, do I know him, is he better than me? Maybe the answer to all of those irrational questions is yes, or maybe he’s a friend from work, or a cousin. Aziz’s work with the focus groups shows how detrimental snooping can be to a relationship. If you feel the need to snoop, you should probably just end things as you clearly don’t trust your partner. That’s a quote from me, not Aziz. Snooping is deadly and poisonous.
As for swiping, well that’s still too new to fully understand. Aziz speaks with people from a variety of a dating sites and apps, and they share statistics with him for the book that are really quite eye-opening. Apparently, the most right-swiped pictures of dudes are pictures where they’re are facing slightly away from the camera. Hmm, I was told that is douchey, but okay. Anyway, there is a science to the new swipe dating and it’s really freaking scary. What do I open with? What should my picture be? How long do I wait to respond? The list goes on …
I’m not saying I’m going to find my soulmate tomorrow, or next month, or even next year. Nor am I promising that you will, but I do promise that you will feel relieved if you give this book a chance. Aziz and his team make sense of all of our annoying dating tendencies, and I really believe that every single person in their 20’s and 30’s (maybe even 40’s) can relate to this book. For those that read this far, Here is a link to a preview of the book.
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