The Demoralization of Dating in the Modern Age

Adriana J.M.
4 min readOct 11, 2023

The past few years, I’ve had enough experiences to where I have built a mental, unsupervised model of the modern-day, single, 30-something-year-old. Here are the 5 main clusters…

On paper, my parents don’t fit the definition of a typical healthy relationship. They have a twenty-year difference and their native language, cultural, and religious differences have caused a slew of issues throughout their marriage. But the one thing they have that most modern relationships do not is a resilience that borderlines insanity. Their love is more powerful than any other I’ve seen. A love story that can’t be replicated — blows any meet-cute out of the water. Maybe this is what catapulted my dating destiny towards failure, in the coils of the modern age.

Every monogamous friend I have who started dating their partner, pre-apps, has said to me how they can’t picture what it would be like to use a dating app. That they hear so many terrible stories from all of their single friends.

Only you have the power to truly set yourself free.

You would think that with the soft launch of Tinder in 2012, technology would exponentially increase the rate of relationships leading to higher rates of marriage, or at least foster the spark of procreation for our species. But no. The marriage rate has been declining year-over-year with a pretty solid flat line after 2010.

US Congress Joint Economic Committee, April 29, 2020

Granted, marriage is not the most appealing for millennials, like myself, who don’t always have the highest hopes for the future. Birthing is on a decline as well. Why procreate when our future was built for, and by, an older solipsistic generation who collectively think it’s the end-times? The world does not die when you die, Geri! But sure, we’ll allll validate your feelings and give into the doomsday prophecies. It’s hard not to.

No one can save you but yourself.

After repeating the toxic cycle of downloading dating apps out of loneliness, having a handful of superficial, short-lived, positive experiences and a mountain of humanity-questioning encounters, then deleting said dating apps and shaking my fist at how much everyone on them sucks; I’ve ended the cycle…again.

The past few years, I’ve had enough experiences to where I have built a mental, unsupervised model of the modern-day, single, 30-something-year-old.

Here are the 5 main clusters:

  1. Fragile but trying — they are doing “the work” but can’t handle any speck of self-inflicted feelings of inferiority — they MUST dump you, before you can dump them.
  2. Poly-dude/ette — it’s all fun and games until you get tired of feeling like #2 — why are they such empathic communicators?! I really want to hate you!
  3. Catalytic converter — blasts you with attention and a good time then becomes so toxic you have no choice but to cut them off — Were you actually cheating on someone that whole time?
  4. The straight up LIAR — it’s a good thing they have a pretty face; there is literally nothing else going for them — oh, the disappointment.
  5. The know-it-all — they’ve psychologically profiled you before spending more than two straight (sober) days with you and they probably have cats — they already know your type…

Maybe my use-cases were just the product of dating app user behavior:

  • It’s the end of the day, I am tired and thinking about how nice it would be to have someone around. I swipe and swipe and swipe; always with the left! I’ve given $25.99 and my complete attention to this app, for at least 30-minutes. I begin to develop stranger danger. If I can see them, then they can see me. I don’t want this creep looking at my photos! And then a mediocre or surprisingly handsome human comes into my purview. Oh, thank god. I was on the verge of giving up. Out of desperation, I engage.

Maybe my failure at dating is just a symptom of the age we live in:

  • Everything is online. Less human contact = faster, more efficient service.
  • Apps are incentivized by your attention. Your primal cravings and reactions. Their exponential, month-over-month, year-over-year growth. Numbers prove their worth, their footprint. Let’s throw “AI” into the mix. Make it all even less human.
  • A pandemic and shitty news cycles make us skeptical of people outside of our bubbles. Apps can feel like the only option to comfortably meet new people. A lot of effort has gone into building the safety and control of hiding behind a screen, behind your profile. Is the avatar you painted more you than you? Profile-to-profile, be real with me. I can handle the truth…I think.

Maybe I am the problem:

  • Feminism destroyed the nuclear family…blah, blah, blah.
  • Wait…do I have the commitment issues?

My father met my mother in South Korea in the 1970s. He was a nuclear design engineer and her uncle was a nuclear physicist. They fell in love — or rather my father did, at first. They had to prove to my mom’s family that he was worthy. They built a relationship on a second language. They moved to a country that neither could call home until years later. Everything was different between them. No modern-day algorithm could have matched them. Yet here they stand. 40+ years later and more in love than ever.

You don’t hear of great love stories anymore.

Maybe we’re all just fucked.

Edit January 04, 2024:

Shortly after writing this I found myself embarking on a relationship with someone very special whom I met on Hinge (the less gross of the dating app world). To be continued…