Welcome To The Dating Apocalypse


Earlier this summer I wrote an essay about college dating in which I modestly proposed that young women take back control of the courship process by demanding committed relationships. I ended up taking the story down not because of any backlash, but because further reading on the subject led me to realize that my quaint notion wasn’t just from another era, but from an entirely different parallel universe, having positively no relevance to the actual lives of young people today.

Now in its September issue, Vanity Fair takes on the topic of hookup culture among Ivy Leaguers, Wall Street interns, and Manhattan debutante types, and needless to say it’s a far cry from a Whit Stillman movie.

In the 6,500-word story, Vanity Fair introduces us to the fascinating concept of “datepocalypse”:

As the polar ice caps melt and the earth churns through the Sixth Extinction, another unprecedented phenomenon is taking place, in the realm of sex. Hookup culture, which has been percolating for about a hundred years, has collided with dating apps, which have acted like a wayward meteor on the now dinosaur-like rituals of courtship. “We are in uncharted territory” when it comes to Tinder et al., says Justin Garcia, a research scientist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. “There have been two major transitions” in heterosexual mating “in the last four million years,” he says. “The first was around 10,000 to 15,000 years ago, in the agricultural revolution, when we became less migratory and more settled,” leading to the establishment of marriage as a cultural contract. “And the second major transition is with the rise of the Internet.”

People used to meet their partners through proximity, through family and friends, but now Internet meeting is surpassing every other form. “It’s changing so much about the way we act both romantically and sexually,” Garcia says. “It is unprecedented from an evolutionary standpoint.”

And here are two commentaries on the Vanity Fair article from both sides of the center line: Jezebel and The College Fix. Warning: graphic language and content. — CC

13 Comments on "Welcome To The Dating Apocalypse"

  1. Sure seems like a lot of work to be young these days, whether one goes the Tinder trail or the relationship route. Then, of course, there’s marriage, which is so intellectually boring it burns: even if one’s spouse is an unlikely super-everything, after a short time even super-everything’s become totally predictable. I don’t have an answer, and at my age, thankfully, I don’t need one. But you poor, poor, poor young bastards…I envy your energy, but that’s about it.

  2. William Richardson | August 10, 2015 at 5:57 pm |


    Your only as old as the woman you feel.


  3. The president of my alma mater caught serious flack for making similar statements.


  4. Students don’t refer to it as the “walk of shame” because of how proud a woman (or man) feels skulking back to their house. At some point political correctness must give way to reality. As anachronistic as your original article may have felt, it was spot on. I don’t believe the herd instinct has ever been an important enough impetus to change; particularly when morality is involved. Perhaps the rise in co-habitation (8mm now vs. 3mm 20 yrs ago), abortion (40% of unintended pregnancies) and divorce (60%) are somehow related to our hook up culture?

  5. I started college in 1968, post-“Summer of Love” and pre-AIDS, and a lot of this sounds awfully familiar. Come to think of it, it sounds like “Bright Lights, Big City”, 1984. Just add the internet for quantity and speed.

  6. Ward Wickers | August 11, 2015 at 8:23 pm |

    It seems like morality has become the anachronism here. Notable, I think, that marketers are starting to run with this.

    Sex has always been used to sell things, but the Calvin Klein ad seems a little different. It could be saying that if you wear our jeans, you increase your chances of getting fucked, multiple times in one night with multiple partners, bi-sexual and homosexual, partners of different races, etc, and all that is highly desirable. Or, it could also be saying that constant sex with multiple partners, etc is highly desirable. It’s kinda hard to tell.

    At the end they give a sort of rationale for the ad: we do it because we love it. That is a pretty hedonistic excuse. Ads like this certainly sell product. I wonder if they realize that they also serve to shape attitudes and behavior.

  7. In only a few days, the topic of Tinder and its effect on modern dating has gone viral, with hundreds of journalists and bloggers responding, and thousands of people chiming in on social media.

    It is clear the current hookup culture has reached a level of visibility that has some upset and others worried about the direction of young people today. However it is unclear whether the hookup culture has always been this way or if it has spread due to Tinder and similar apps. In our view, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. It seems this hookup culture has grown rapidly in part due to the far reaching interwebs on our iPhones which provide a seemingly unlimited amount of potential hookups through apps like Tinder. But Tinder is not at fault here, it is a generational shift. Millennials are staying single longer than previous generations. Yet most singles still plan to be in a relationship at some point, and their dating life or lack thereof will typically be a reflection of their age and maturity.

    Tinder has an incredibly diverse set of users. There are people looking for hookups, for dates, for friendships, and relationships, and many are simply looking for validation or the self-esteem boost that comes with accumulating matches. Now, the reason the Vanity Fair article mainly focuses on hookups, and the hookup culture, is simply because they are speaking about “Hookups Apps”. Surely not all users on these Hookup Apps have that singular goal, but the reality is people with other goals are left with few alternatives. Thus, you have a few popular apps whose users have a massive variety of expectations and goals, which often leads to disappointing experiences, ranging from the weird creep to the one-night-stand-seeker to the relationship seeker to the spouse seeker. Moreover, we believe the “match and chat” system used by Tinder and its peers mostly lends itself to those seeking short conversations and hooking up, leaving individuals with alternative goals frustrated.

    We’re building a different kind of app – one for people looking to date rather than hookup…a “Dating App” to turn to instead of another variation of Tinder.

    We are not going to change the world, we are only going to give the world an alternative way to meet and interact with each other, all while going on fun dates in the real world – a little bit like an experience provider.

    There is not much longer to wait, as this “Dating App” will launch early 2016.

    Hello Tomorrow,
    IAM, Dating Made Simple.

  8. We’ll let this blatant advertisement stand.

  9. I live in the mobile app mecca and only tonight have realized what Tinder is.

    Personally, I believe that ‘hookup culture’ has been with us since the beginning. It is just becoming less something you can get stoned or burned at the stake over.

    But I think this is not necessarily a good thing. I think it is good to have pressure against short-term pleasure for the sake of long-term fulfillment.

  10. I believe that for some the Hook-Up culture has always existed, Flashman demonstrates there is truth in all humor. Having said that I think that aside from the opposable thumb we differ from the apes in that we can make moral based decisions rather than simply be driven by our innate desire to propagate (read Hook-Up). Call me old fashioned but I think there is real value in the rituals of yesteryear including those related to courting. Therefore, regardless of how kids meet now days, I think they need to court and the responsibility for leading that ritual lies mainly with the chaps and the lasses should encourage them to be a little old fashioned.

  11. Yeah, pretty what I said this summer:

    “It’s safe to say that when you are looking at sexual assault, hooking up is a significant risk factor,” William Flack, a Bucknell psychologist who has studied the topic, told New York. In fact, Flack found 77.8% of unwanted sexual encounters happened in the context of a hookup.”



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