Romantic love is a universal emotion that nearly all humans experience in some capacity throughout their lives. However, the dating stage, which we will define as the period where individuals get to know each other and decide upon their feelings, has vastly changed in the last decade. Gen Z is considered to be anyone born after the year of 1996, however vast changes in technology have made older members feel as if they belong in an entirely different group. However, the older members of Gen Z are paving the way for a new style of dating, one which is sure to be followed by younger Gen Z-ers in the coming years so we can sure to see some distinct differences between Gen Z and previous generations in their attitudes towards dating. So, what’s changed?
Online dating has been in circulation for a while now, but it is only recently that dating apps such as Tinder, Hinge, and Bumble have taken the world by storm. Gen Z are native technology users, and after growing up in its presence, no one knows how to navigate the online sphere quite like Gen Z. The prominence of such apps has led to a change in behaviour surrounding dating. For example, they make it much easier to maintain a relationship online, but it has also paved the way for the emergence of terms which describe certain behaviour. For example, ‘Ghosting’ refers to when someone abruptly cuts contact with you for no apparent reason despite having spoken consistently for a while. Therefore, online dating can make it much easier to cop out of real-life dates and hide behind a screen.
Interestingly however, 26% of engaged millennials stated they met through online dating in comparison to 16% of Gen Z couples. This could be down to a number of reasons, perhaps Gen Z are more aware of the perils of online dating and know the tricks of the trade so become less receptive to advances made towards them. Another factor could be that Gen Z use dating apps solely to date, rather than to look for marriage. With many more options out there, Gen Z is less likely to commit to the first person they click with and will instead focus on meeting new people and having a good time. That being said, we haven’t experienced online dating long enough to properly analyse its impact on behaviours surrounding romance within different generations.
Career now, marriage later
Studies have shown that before marriage, members of Gen Z seek financial and career stability before committing to another person. As the world becomes more globalised, Gen Z are being presented with increasingly more options as where to go in life. For many, financial stability equates to freedom, and allows them to do as they wish without worrying about relying on another person. This could be in the form of travelling the world or training for a certain profession.
The emancipation of women has also played a huge role in this change which has been seen prior to Gen Z. Traditionally, in heterosexual couples, women were reserved the roles of housekeepers and child bearers, whilst the man was the breadwinner. Therefore, women are taking advantage of the opportunities they didn’t have before, and putting themselves and their career first, rather than the prospect of buying a home and looking after a family.
How we show love
Despite there being significant changes to how people meet, and how long they wait before committing to another person, love still remains powerful. Although Gen Z postpone marriage and other forms of commitment, it is something they still seek. Companionship is still valued and people still frequent dates, especially after two years of intermittent lockdowns, it’s likely that many people are eager to get out there and socialise. It is also still the norm to show love via gift-giving. For example, presenting your significant other with an array of heart shaped chocolate gifts is still considered to be highly romantic.
Just because Gen Z tend to prioritise other things more or just as much as relationships, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a desire to meet someone or show love. It’s just that other aspects of life have become valued more – and that’s completely okay!
Thank you for reading.