Secrecy is the enemy of efficiency, but don’t let anyone know it. —Ric Ocasek
File this one under “reasons I’m glad I’m not dating anymore.” For anyone of my generation, or even the generation just younger than me, the manner and means in which Millennials and Gen-Zers are dating and “hooking up” is so dramatically different from the tactics and standards we used as to seem incredibly odd and unnatural. What they’re doing, though, is using available technology to maximize the efficiency of the one night stand.
There are a couple of articles you’ll want to read in order to truly understand what’s going on here. The first appeared in Vanity Fair last September, Writer Nancy Jo Sales looked at what she considers to be the “end of dating” largely because of mobile apps such as Tinder that make “hooking up” much easier than actually going out somewhere and meeting someone. The second was published yesterday on Mashable. Author Mandy Stadtmiller extends from the platform of the VF article to explore exactly how quickly those hookups happen, often without even having met each other. The common tie between the articles is the need for efficiency.
If we need to get real about young adults having sex, let’s do that now: They always have. Let’s not pretend that there was a generation somewhere back in the 50s where everyone remained virginal until they walked down the aisle to get married. The statistics have remained fairly steady since they were first studied over 70 years ago. Young adults like having sex and there’s not much that can stop them. Through every post-WWII generation, 60-65% of all 18-25-year-olds had sex at least once while dating. Don’t let your grandmother’s tales of chastity fool you.
For my generation, there was an unspoken three-date rule for having sex, and that rule has held as the standard for quite a while. Three dates give one time to get to know another person and decide whether there’s even a remote chance of a longer-term relationship. Of course, that’s assuming that there’s actually meaningful dialogue during the dates, which doesn’t always happen. I’m sure we all know someone who just endured the dates to get to the sex. Maybe it was you. Let’s not be naive. Young adult passions haven’t changed.
Dating apps, however, have suddenly shortened the time frame. Whereas we used to make fun of and joke about online dating, apps such as Tinder and Hinge have become so commonplace and easy to use that the stigma of online dating is completely gone. Instead, millennials see it as a way to cut through the clutter without having to endure the horrendous dates. Rather, couples who match on an app begin texting each other, which quickly becomes sexting, which quickly leads to sex. Fast. Efficient. Easy.
Efficiency isn’t the only factor at work here. Underlying the need for efficiency is an attitude of immediate gratification. Millennials are that generation, after all, who want everything now: the nice car, the big house, the exotic vacations, the designer clothes. Waiting for anything isn’t a part of their nature so we shouldn’t be surprised at all that they would want their sex without waiting as well.
We should also note that these hookups are in no way intended to take the place of long-term relationships. Millennials put those longer, more meaningful relationships in a different category than the quick sex hookups from Tinder. The longer relationship is something they’re willing to put in the future, after age 25, or even after the age of 30. The one thing millennials don’t want right now is to settle down.
What they do want, however, is efficiency in their sexual liaisons. I was rather taken aback by some of the forwardness mentioned in the two articles. Conversations went from, “Hi, you’re cute,” to “Send me a dick pic,” in fewer than five exchanges. Addresses and phone numbers were exchanged in less than 10. Chats were almost immediately sexual with seemingly no concern about personality or personal interests or any of the other things that typically draw two people together. Had I attempted such a conversation when I was of that age I would have most certainly had my face slapped. Efficiency matters now, though, and no one seems inclined to wait until the other person asks where they work before hopping into bed with them.
Which brings us back to the problem of people my age who find themselves single, again, perhaps for the third or fourth time. The rules have not only changed, the very mechanics have changed. Trolling for a one-night-stand at a nightclub is passé. See a pretty girl or attractive guy at a bar, chances are they’re looking at their phone, and chances are they’re going through Tinder. They’re not interested in the people around them because that’s not efficient. Older singles who don’t understand that significant shift in attitudes find themselves using the wrong tactics in an attempt to attract people who are too distracted to bother noticing. No wonder older singles end up depressed, lonely, and often suicidal.
This is a very different generation of young people from those who have gone before. Technology has made their lives more efficient. They order fast food before they get to Taco Bell. They expect their Uber to be waiting when they walk out the door. They have a lot going on and efficiency is the key to making it all happen right now. There’s no time for subtleties. Either your DTF or they’re moving on.
And if you don’t understand what DTF means, you’re not even in the game. Don’t bother.