by Kevie Simon on Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
Let’s imagine for a moment that you’re a twenty-something living in a prominent city in the northern US. You work a 50-60 hour a week office job, and your desire is to climb the corporate ladder and develop a great career. You don’t have time for a relationship, but come on, you do have physical needs. So what do you do? You take out your phone and open a familiar dating app. You start swiping through pictures of people who might appear attractive enough for you to hook up with for the night. You really don’t want anything more than a night of physical pleasure. After swiping through several pictures, you find someone who sparks your interest, and you notice that they think you are attractive too. Three text messages later, you decide to meet up for a drink with the expectation that this will end up back at your place.
In today’s technological world, finding a sexual partner is just a swipe and a text away. Online dating apps have taken out the need for building a dating relationship and inserted a quick road to a sexual encounter. The entire basis for these applications is instant gratification; finding sex has become fairly easy and quick, but finding a relationship is a totally different story. Hooking up on the surface may seem easier because no one gets hurt – or do they? Any person can find more sexual partners with less commitment than ever before in history.
Does this mean that romance is dead? And if so, what effects could this have on our overarching culture? This phenomenon is so new that no true research exists. However, there are a few speculations to be made. Research has shown us there are typical stages of courtship that every relationship goes through, from noticing to flirtation to romance to intercourse to renewal. What happens when we take out the steps leading up to intercourse? A quick answer could be that we lose the trust and loyalty built within these steps. The person we interact with becomes a physical transaction, not a relationship building intimacy and vulnerability.
After working with any addiction, you begin to see a pattern of unhealthy intimate relationships (or lack their of) that have generously contributed to the addiction. With this new reality of easy sex, it leads me to wonder the issues with intimacy this new app savvy generation may encounter. A true intimate relationship requires risk and pain along with joy and trust. When today’s “relationships” just equal a sexual encounter, how does one shift to creating deep relationships when it’s time to “settle down”? When we treat others like options, not priorities, what message are we sending about how we view others and ourselves? Honestly, I have more questions than answers for today.
The truth is simple: this culture is here. It is a reality, not a concept. Whether we like it or not, it is happening. I believe there are important questions to be pondered and realities to be questioned out of this new phenomenon. Connecting with others at a deep, intimate level is wired into our genetic makeup. We live in a technological age where it is easier than ever to connect with other people around the world, but at the same time, we can just as easily hide behind a virtual facade and shallow encounters. Although I do not have answers for today, I believe that wrestling with these questions is the first step in finding our beliefs amidst the chatter.