The current generation is subverting the traditional rules of courtship. So, hook-up is the new dating and marriage is no longer the goal. As Valentine’s Day approaches, Kasmin Fernandes lists the unwritten laws of the new dating game.
The times, they are a-changing — and so is the art of the biggest game of your life. It still requires flirtation and charm, but there isn’t much of the traditional movie-and-dinner. Or even coffee or drinks, for that matter. Instead, millennials — today’s 20-and-30-somethings — “meet up” and invite their romantic interests to hang out with a group of friends. “Sometimes, there isn’t even a telephonic invitation; just a last-minute SMS or tweet for an impromptu ‘hook-up’ or chat,” says graphic designer Ankit Wadhwa, a 30-year-old wading through the shifting landscape of contemporary dating.
Driven by social media
Social media has drastically changed everything about dating. Social networking sites play many roles — connectors of mutual friends, precursors to blind dates, playgrounds for pre-date flirting and re-connectors of exes and long-lost lovers. “You’ve got mutual friends, you see photos of them with your friends, and you think, ‘Hey, this person might be nice, I could consider going on a date with him,” says 23-year-old advertising account executive Komal Shah, who is going on a blind date next week. Says ad guru Prahlad Kakkar, “Technology has made life much easier for young people. Boys don’t have to climb a wall to meet their girlfriends. Even if the parents put them on curfew, the kids can rendezvous online from the confines of their own room.” However, easy access to instant communication channels can also be a cause of anxiety. Says celebrity blogger Malini Agarwal Rizwanullah (popularly known as Miss Malini), “Do girls still wait for the phone to ring after a great date? Of course, they do. But now there’s the added trauma of obsessively checking e-mail, signing in and out of instant messenger (so that ‘green-lit reminder’ will pop up on his screen), sending vague tweets about heartache and updating their Facebook status...”
Reveal your past
Before the internet became all-pervasive, the only information one
could find about a new date was through mutual friends. Today, if you
don’t reveal your less-than-savoury past to a prospective date, prepare
to have it dug up. With as little to go by as your complete name and
city, a person can access reams of information about you.
Be honest after you’ve begun the courtship ritual too. “The way media spies on celebrities, documenting their every action, the internet marks your digital footprints. Through locationmapping, micro-blogging sites and online photo albums, you can stay abreast of where your love interest is and with whom at any point of time. It’s a great way of knowing what you are getting into,” says relationship columnist Pooja Bedi.
Peers decide partners
Friends seal the deal in relationships, if we go by current research. A newlylaunched double dating website conducted a study with 1,193 single women in a bid to discover how important their friend’s approval is when they start dating a new partner. More than 10 per cent of women would dump a partner if their friends didn’t approve of them. And two-fifths admitted that they need their friends’ approval before they continue with the relationship. Says Bedi, “Your close friends are protective about you, and they want the best for you. They have most likely picked up the pieces when an unsuitable mate broke your heart. It makes perfect sense to trust their opinion about a prospective partner.” In fact, your inner circle’s approval means you can build a larger social network around your romantic interest. “If your partner gets along with everyone, it keeps your social life balanced,” adds Bedi.
The hook-up culture dominates the modern dating scene. Typically
referring to a lifestyle of short-term commitment-free flings, the
popular media — be it romantic films, sitcoms or chick lit — finds it
sexy, but the idea may be scary for parents. And what about the people
indulging in it — the millennial's? Says relationship counsellor Dr
Tushar Guha, “Pre-marital sex is no longer a crime, because there is a
shift in perception. Marriage is no longer the goal of getting into a
relationship. The millennial's I have come across are paranoid about
commitment because they are no longer sure if marriage is for keeps.
They have started questioning their own motives for tying the knot.
Hook-ups, serial monogamy (a succession of faithful relationships) and
living in are their ways of experimenting and scrutiny.”
In fact, American journalist Hanna Rosin believes feminist progress right now largely depends on the very existence of the hook-up culture. In her 2012 book, The End of Men: And The Rise of Women, she writes, “Research about the hook-up culture shows that over the long run, women benefit greatly from living in a world where they can have sexual adventure without commitment and where they can enter into temporary relationships that don’t get in the way of future success…”
That leaves both the modern man and the New Age woman on a more level-playing field. But if you disagree, love was never meant to be fair and square.
High-tech dating etiquetteDon’t send a social media ‘relationship’ request until discussed in person.