Modern Dating: Too Many Options to Settle Down


Whether you’re swiping left or right in your dating life it’s hard to neglect the fact that in modern day romance we’re faced with an abundant of options. From real life interactions, apps, dating web services, etc. – there are a variety of interfaces we can utilize to connect with one another. In addition to the evolution of transportation; we can meet dating potentials across cities, states, countries and oceans.


Education rates for both men and women have evolved over the decades, most people focus on their career in their 20s and 30s; thus pushing back the average age rate people are settling down for marriage. We download apps like bumble or tinder, swipe, connect, delete the app, re-download and swipe.  Are we all doomed to become Peter Pans?! Not quite…

How Things Used to Be

Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg, an American sociologist, interviewed and studied dating rituals around the world and cross analyzed them. In one study, they found that most older generations dated and married people based off proximity. It wasn’t uncommon for people to marry individuals that grew up in the same apartment complex or neighborhood. Aziz interviewed a retirement community in New York and found that many people married very young. It was a common experience that their parents met their perspective person almost immediately and marriage followed soon after.

A study, “in 1932 a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania named James Bossard looked through 5,000 consecutive marriage licenses on file for people who lived in the city of Philadelphia. One third of the couples who got married had lived in a five mile radius of each other.” That’s a lot of freaking people. Imagine being statistically confined to settling down with the people in your neighborhood or high school! That was the common experience!

The average age of marriage for a woman in New York city was 20 and 23 for men. For people growing up in the 1950s, marriage was the first leap into adulthood. After high school or college, it was common for people to get married. Today, the average age women marry in the United States is 27 and for men, it’s 29. However, if you live in a larger city like New York or Los Angeles, the average was around 30 for both men and women.

How Things Are Changing

Why the stretch in averages, though? Well, back in the day, marriage was an escape from your parent’s house. It afforded you independence, freedom and your right of passage as an adult. In present day, however, marriage is postponed. The majority of twenty-somethings leap into pursuing their education, careers, and a variety of relationships – experiencing adulthood alone first before commitment.

How we define our marriage potentials has also shifted over the years as well. Courtship was short in previous generations. If two perspective individuals seemed decent for one another and possessed good jobs it was common for them to tie the knot quickly. Nowadays, people want not only a partner, but a soulmate. We want a best friend, trusted confidant, a Casanova, and them to be our everything. 

So, delays in marriage can be summed up as a result from social, technological and a transportational progression. There’s more options in dating potentials, a focus on fighting for independence, and the way we are meeting each other differs from previous generations. Where most people in the 1940s met their partners through family, friends and school; technology has completely kicked itself into a significant running as being the third most common way people met their partners in 2010, then the bar, and firstly, through friends.

How Things Are Now

Dr. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist and revolutionary lead on human attraction defines modern dating as “slow love.” Which means getting to know someone as much as possible before deciding to fully commit. “Slow love” transpires by coping a feel (both physically and personality wise) for your person. It often leads with sex, then an untitled/uncommitted/casual relationship, which develops into traditional dating, cohabiting, and tying the knot. (Wow! That’s a lot of emotional uncertainty!).

A large chunk of the population date into their 30s and 40s before marriage. Independence is highly valued in present time and takes longer to achieve nowadays. Fisher uncovered that 89% of people she surveyed value and seek independence in a partner.

Fisher asserts that men tend to fall in love more quickly than their female counterparts, especially in their 20s. She attributes that millennial men have adapted to a different route of falling in love prior to commitment compared to previous generations. She believes this difference is due to the large divorce rates millennials experienced growing up.


So, it seems back in the day, the norm was to get married first, then get to know one another and figure shit out. No wonder there was an increase in divorce rates as society progressed technologically and socially as options increased. Or that those raised in such an environment would want to take their time and explore their options.

Ultimately, holding off to tie the knot for the sake of your independence and individual growth seems like a fair trade off. If your family keeps pressuring you to say “I do,” don’t sweat it – now you know where they’re coming from. No rush. 

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