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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: What I Learned
By Erika Ettin
I try to stay on top of the dating news. I have a Google Alert set for “Online Dating”. I watch some of the dating TV shows to stay in the know (Millionaire Matchmaker, anyone?), and I buy all of the books that I’m “supposed” to read for business. So, when two copies of “Modern Romance” by Aziz Ansari ended up in my mailbox — one from a client and one from a friend — I knew it was a book I had to read.
Ansari’s writing certainly made me laugh, he is a comedian after all, and some of the points definitely hit close to home. Below are five key takeaways from Modern Romance:
1. We used to look in our radius for a partner.
Ansari references a 1932 University of Pennsylvania study that showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within a five-block radius of each other!
In fact, my parents were next-door neighbors. My mom was a teacher, and my dad was home from law school for the summer. My mom is five and a half years older than my dad. She always saw this guy looking out the upstairs window while studying and wondered who he was. One day, my dad’s brother said hello. She asked who he was, and he told her that he lived next door. She said, “No – that other guy lives next door,” and my uncle informed her that he was the “other guy’s” brother. My mom then said, “I don’t normally do this, but would you and your brother like to come with my friend and me to a concert tonight?” The whole night, my mom didn’t know who her date was, my uncle or my dad. At the end of the night, my uncle said to my mom, “I’ll call you.” Scandal of all scandals, my dad beat him to the punch and called my mom first. (It was all good. My uncle was only in town visiting.) And the rest is history. They celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this year.
2. There may be too many options out there.
With seemingly unlimited options on Tinder alone, people often get a case of what I call “Grass is Greener Syndrome.” Barry Schwartz, in his book “The Paradox of Choice,” provides real-life evidence — choosing a health-care plan, picking out a pair of jeans, enrolling in a college class — of things we face with too many choices. Schwartz shows that too many options can actually flood our brains, ultimately restricting instead of freeing us and thereby leaving us unhappy. Ansari says the same can be true of dating. I agree.
3. Breaking up by text is now common.
This one is bad. Very bad. Although, it’s not as bad as ghosting. And here I thought that on Sex and the City, when Berger broke up with Carrie on a (dare I say it?) Post-it note, it was terrible form. And it was.
As I would tell anyone, it’s best to have a face-to-face, in person conversation. Your partner, or soon-to-be-ex-partner, deserves that much. In a 2014 survey of 18- to 30-year-olds, 56 percent admitted to dumping someone via text, instant message, or social media. If you’ve been on fewer than three dates, I would argue that texting the “no connection/no spark” remark is A-okay, but if you’d DTR’ed it, then texting is no longer an option.
4. It's easy to forget there are real people behind the profile.
Ansari says, "If you were in a bar, would you ever go up to a guy or girl and repeat the word 'hey' ten times in a row without getting a response? Would you ever go up to a woman you met two minutes ago and beg her to show you one of her boobs? Even if you are just looking for a casual hookup, do you really think this will work? And if so, do you really want to bone someone who responds to this? Yet people send these kinds of text messages all the time. I can only conclude that it's because it's so easy to forget that you're talking to another human being and not a bubble." Please take this to heart.
5. With so many dating sites and so many people, instead of trying to explore them all, make sure you give them a fair chance before moving on to the next one.
As my college boyfriend told me, and I hated him for it, “There’s always another bus around the corner.” Too many people, though, dismiss one “bus” for some inane reason. Can you really know someone after a first date? Is your 5-second instinct always correct? I would say no.
Clients ask me all the time whether they should go on a second date since they’re not sure whether they were really into the other person after the first. Their rationale is that they don’t want to lead the other person on, making him or her think that this might be the beginning of a relationship when, in fact, the next date would be “just to see” if there’s any potential there. While this makes sense in theory, I argue that the whole point of dating is simply to get to know people. Of course, it’s sometimes clear that you have a connection, or alternately, that you can’t stand the other person, but it’s often much too hard after just one date (which is likely only an hour or so long) to decide if this person is “the one.”
My point: It’s okay to see someone again just to see whether he or she is a good fit. You’re not leading someone on — you’re just dating!
Want to read more about this last point? Read about whether you should go on a second date after a “meh” first one.