Amid the bustle of her fellow millennials—typing on laptops, taking meetings on lounge chairs and in conference rooms—Hazan finds time to give me her romantic history. She was married for 11 years. They had a daughter together.
Two years ago, they separated and, a year later, divorced. When Hazan and her ex originally got together, there was no Tinder. No Bumble.
No Instagram. Job loyalty, the family unit, sex—all fading away. Mobile technology—in this case, social media and dating apps—is seen as the root cause. Certainly, mobile technology has changed how people communicate. Just as text messaging has squeezed out phone calls, dating apps have supplanted blind dates. These apps allow users to swipe through hundreds of profiles, discarding poor matches in an instant, aling interest at the tap of a screen.
This, for many, is the new face of dating. Courtships are accelerated. Active daters find more choices, but often grapple with decision paralysis.
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And despite constant connectivity, people seem more isolated than ever. Millennial singles have differing opinions about the pace of app-based dating. He acknowledges, however, that this access has its downside. Hazan agrees. You think, I can do better than this. This constant search for the next best thing le to a of unsavory dating behaviors.
Hazan introduces me to an entire lexicon with which I am mostly unfamiliar.
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This I knew. If you want to have real, meaningful connections, you have to put down the phone. In many cases, nascent relationships never even make their way offline. Melissa has a theory about the phenomena. The swiping changed things. The gamifying changed things. Economic pressure has also changed the dating lives of millennials. Many entered the workforce at the height of the economic recession, saddled with student loans and facing both a terrible job market and rising housing costs. Marriage and parenting seemed like distant promises. Millennials developed new interests.
Priorities shifted. While she uses dating apps, Larell Scardelli prefers meeting in a more organic way. I see that the older singles, especially, are more protective about their lifestyles. While the economy and the job market are much improved, college debt and the rising cost of housing still loom as pivotal factors for millennials.
Armed with apps and too many choices, today’s singles try to rewrite the rules of courtship. (but then, don’t we all?)
Many, like Joe Rizzolo, a year-old music teacher who lives in Parsippany, have moved back in with their parents or other relatives. Natalie Almonte, a year-old ultrasound technician in Paterson, lives with her grandmother. When Almonte started college, her grandmother offered to let her stay rent free in an extra room until after graduation.
Six years later, Almonte is still there, now paying a nominal rent. I never stepped out of that. And then there are those single millennials who grapple with an entirely different sort of responsibility: single motherhood. The Pew Research Center reports that millennial women make up the majority of single-mother he of households. Hazan is one of them.
I have a daughter. My daughter always comes first. Sure, millennials have ready access to perhaps too many dating options. Sure, many of them put off settling down. But people disappeared back in the day, too. Meeting in the course of your authentic life, she contends, creates a common ground.
But where will these spontaneous meetings take place? And when I spend one night out in Hoboken, I can see why.
Guys slouch on barstools like discarded coats, waiting for their turn at beer pong. Women in low-slung jeans and low-cut tops belly up to the bar or cluster around high-top tables, nursing cocktails and reapplying lipstick. Everyone is constantly checking their phones. I sit hunched at my own table, sipping a Brooklyn Lager, scrolling through Instagram.
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At the bar, a guy in a waffle-weave shirt dances alone. The music blares, too loud for conversation.
People eye each other, dance, wander apart. My God, I think, nothing changes. The next week, we meet again in Montclair, this time at the Crosby, where a mix of younger and older professionals circle each other, dressed in suits or sequined sweaters and the full range of business casual.
Finding that tiny spark in the middle of a crowd is still hard. Melissa shares horror stories. She once drove to Jersey City at rush hour to meet someone at Barcade, a popular craft-beer bar, only to be stood up and ghosted.
Another time, she tried to buy a drink for a guy, but he turned it down and fled out the door. Still, she continues to put herself out there. Seeking alternatives to bars, she goes to festivals, meetups, museum events and other activities.
In the process, her life is fuller. Get out of your comfort zone. There are a lot of activities going on. Once you meet someone, the playing field is refreshingly leveled. Dating rules are being rewritten.
More women feel comfortable making the next move, with some apps, like Bumble, requiring women to reach out first. Other dating norms—such as the assumption that the guy will pay—also feel outdated. We both dedicated our free time to getting to know each other and eating, so it feels fair we pay equally for the experience—good or bad. She enjoys hiking, going to the park, taking a bike ride together, seeing a show. And as for that chemistry: What about reports that millennials are having less sex?
Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they were personally satisfied with the amount of sex they were having; 92 percent prized quality over quantity. Hazan balks at the suggestion that young people are having less sex. She mentions that more people are taking the time to fully explore their sexuality.
Some people feel more comfortable waiting before things get physical, while others just go with the flow. For myself, it really depends on the chemistry and how things are going. Sometimes I prefer waiting if I feel like I need time to get to know someone. Then there are times where the physical chemistry is through the roof, coupled with cocktails…well, yeah. It happens! Sex aside, people still seem to be looking for forever.
After revealing that Atlantic City, Hoboken, Jersey City, Newark, Ocean City and Trenton are the cities in New Jersey with the most OkCupid users, a representative of the site also shares that most millennials in those cities want their next relationship to last the rest of their lives. Huan Tran spent much of the past 20 years building up his professional life before he felt able to turn his attention to romantic relationships.