This decline isn’t just about the pandemic either since the downward trend was happening before 2020.
So just what the heck is going on? I wanted to find out if love is really dead — and if so, who killed it?
What I found is that love isn’t necessarily dead. It’s just presenting itself in different ways than before.
If you look around, you’ll quickly see that the yearning for love and romance is manifesting itself in different ways these days. One such place is in entertainment.
Just look at the number of reality television shows devoted to dating that have been released in the last few years: “Love Is Blind,” “Love on the Spectrum,” “Indian Matchmaking” and more. Heck, there’s one show where people even put on ridiculous prosthetics and go on dates. It’s called “Sexy Beasts.”
Romance novelist Adriana Herrera, author of “A Caribbean Heiress in Paris” and “American Dreamer,” credits “Bridgerton” for promoting love. The show “definitely has gone a long way into rebooting (romance) into the consciousness,” she told me. “People have gone to romance, because in the end, you are guaranteed that you’re going to get that happily ever after.”
“Perhaps expectations of what romance could look like and feel like may differ” now compared with decades past, Herrera said. These days society is much more accepting of different types of relationships, and the media are doing a better job of reflecting “people who are asexual, people who are queer, people who are in interracial relationships,” she said.
The real reason people are delaying marriage might be, as Herrera suggested, because they have higher standards for potential partners.
Another potential cause I bet many of you are thinking about: dating apps.
Relationship expert Monica O’Neal, a Boston-based psychologist, said the people who run these apps “have zero interest in whether or not people actually find relationships. Their primary goal is to keep people on apps because that’s how they make money.” She noted that “what has happened is they’ve created a culture that really leads people to not take the time to invest in getting to know anybody.”
Love them or hate them, they’re here to stay for a while longer.
Zach Stafford, former chief content officer for gay dating app Grindr, said apps can be a good thing, especially for groups that have historically been discriminated against. “The apps have allowed for there to be a safeguard for queer people to explore,” Stafford told me during the podcast. “It’s also allowed people who think they’re straight or anything else to safely explore their own sexualities in safe spaces without having to go to a physical place.”
Of course, maybe it’s all as simple as people just wanting to be single. How much might that play a role? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
I’ll just end by saying, for all those people yearning for romance, the past few months have taught me that sometimes you just don’t know when lightning will strike. Keep your heart open.