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By: Hailey Salamanca

  

In five years, you won’t even remember this boy’s name, let alone all the memories and experiences you guys had together.”

 

That’s the advice I’ve been given. But if dating in college is so temporary, why do the laughs, the tipsy kisses, meeting the parents, the birthdays and the sex feel so important? And why do we spend so much time trying to search for love?

 

And no, I don’t mean the love you have for your friends or the hot dog lady outside of the nightclub. It feels like the average young adult struggles to find the romance and unconditional support we all deserve.

 

A Shallow Pool

Online dating can be tempting because it introduces you to a new group of potential partners. But unfortunately the dating pool can feel claustrophobic.

 

Susanna Chen, 27, mentioned the lack of eligible men. Chen uses an online extension of the dating app, Bumble, called Bumble BFF. It’s designed to make new friends, which is convenient because the app works as one, where you can switch between dates and friends.

 

“All the girls I know want the same things in a guy, but we’re dating the same people,” Chen said. “The problem is that we all want the same things but are meeting the same pool of guys,” Chen said.

 

Women feel like they have fewer opportunities to meet quality men to date, so finding a partner they could potentially see a future with was a rare experience.

 

“I met my best friend through Bumble BFF, but there were times where I would match with a guy, and I would know someone from Bumble BFF who matched with them,” Chen said. “They would tell me they matched and they didn’t like them, then I would meet them and realize I didn’t either.”

 

Physical and Emotional Differences

Chen shared that she created a checklist of what she’d like in a partner. This ensures that she is dating with a purpose. At this point in her life, she’d like to eventually get married but does not feel optimistic about the men she is meeting. She attributes this in part to different sexual needs.

 

“At this stage, sex is not that important [to me],” Chen said. “Sexual discipline is on my list because I dated a guy who wanted to have sex when I didn’t want it. As a boyfriend, shouldn’t it be enjoyable for both of us?”

 

On the other hand, men we consulted for this story believed that guys of our generation don’t want to be vulnerable, so they resort to casual sex.

 

“The issue with dating nowadays is it’s all about hookup culture,” Melvin Hutama, 23, said. “Hook-up culture messes things up because the more sex you have, the less feelings you attach to people.” 

 

Sebastian Mounoc, 21, agreed with Hutama. Both men believed that other factors, like excessive clubbing, parents’ approval and their friends’ opinions, would impact whether they wanted to commit to their significant other. They insisted that friends’ approval of dates was extremely important to them, whereas, for the women interviewed, it wasn’t a big deal. 

 

Avoiding Creeps

Our millennial elders used to meet dates at bars and clubs. But Gen Z doesn’t drink as much alcohol nor do we tolerate the predatory nature of nightlife. Online dating often feels physically safer because it presents opportunities to vet potential partners before you meet.

 

“For women especially, there’s that safety factor,” said 22-year-old Victoria Walker. “There’s a lot of fucked up people, with things like human trafficking, and the whole safety aspect of being afraid to meet or reach out to other people.”

 

For a lot of Gen Zers, the COVID-19 pandemic made planning online dates even harder. But in-person meet-cutes aren’t exactly like they’re portrayed in the movies.

 

“There’s a lack of third spaces – places we congregate, places to exist, to have a good social arena, especially in LA or OC,” Walker said. “These places aren’t walkable, and so [when you go to them] there are less chances of running into someone you don’t already know.”

 

Whether you’re online or out with your besties, it feels like you’re seeing the same 10 singles over and over. Which leads some people to link back up with someone familiar, like a FWB or even an ex.

 

Our generation isn’t scared of commitment, we’re afraid of committing to someone new because it is higher stakes.

 

The Dating Economy

Mounoc and Hutama shared that before getting into a serious relationship, they believed they should be financially stable and felt pressure to provide. Not feeling ready to commit can stem from the idea that they do not have enough to offer yet.

 

With the housing market being an issue, along with struggles in the job market, inflation and the standard of living increasing, Allison Baek, 22, believes many young couples will decide to move in together for economic purposes rather than intention.

 

“This is what affects the fear of commitment – because when you provide or expect ‘wifey-material’ and move in for economic relief rather than intention, you don’t see the need to put a label. You are already experiencing that label,” Baek said.

 

Be Cautious, But Don’t Overthink It

Chen pointed out that trust issues may arise as technology and AI improve in the future. This can allow people to portray themselves in a way that isn’t genuine to them. 

 

Baek believes that the trouble our generation faces with dating is that we place too much emphasis on mediated communication. She was recently in the early weeks of a relationship when she contracted COVID-19.

 

“Things were still passionate, and we were in the honeymoon phase, but I was in my room and couldn’t see him,” Baek said. “I was so distraught. I never felt this much yearning for someone before. In the absence of someone is when you realize how much you love and care for them.”

 

With so many different forms of communication, it plays to our own disadvantage. You might ask yourself: Why are they not responding after three or six hours? Why did they say  “GN” instead of “goodnight?” 

 

“I don’t believe I need to be texting my significant other every second of the day because then I’m talking to talk rather than talking with a purpose,” Baek said.

 

“My philosophy is to let it go. We read too much into the nuances of communication and forget to understand their purpose,” she said.