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Modern dating often leaves many with questions about the nature of their relationships.

The days of anxiously waiting to be picked up for dinner and a movie, given flowers and maybe given a kiss goodnight are gone. 

As a whole, society has changed greatly since the birth of modern technology and the invention of the smartphone. Because of these developments, a new stage of relationships known as the “talking” phase has brought an end to dating.

Naturally, dating in this generation isn’t the same as the last, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent that it’ll never be the same again. Courtship isn’t quite as romantic and rose-colored anymore. It shouldn’t be considered old-fashioned to be romantic, to want flowers and to go to a nice restaurant. Many people mourn traditional dating while others find the less serious forms of dating refreshing and exciting. Now, a phase of sending texts or Snapchats back and forth until one or both parties gets bored and moves on has emerged. Dates have turned into Netflix and chill, but in this case, the movie is rarely turned on.

Millennials, known for killing industries and foregoing traditional customs such as marriage and children, have also killed dating in its traditional sense.  This has progressed even further, seeing as Gen Z has entered the dating scene. “Talking” has become the main form of finding love, or at least companionship, in this generation – it’s a non-committal relationship. It can be as casual as sending good morning texts, requesting explicit pictures or even planning to eventually enter a concrete relationship. It’s a gray area, leading to internal questions about whether it’s okay to talk to multiple people or where the relationship is going, if anywhere.

Because it’s so casual, when one person wants to stop talking, there’s no need for a big breakup. Here enters a term known as “ghosting,” where one person seems to simply drop off the face of the earth. In fact, 80% of millennials say they’ve been ghosted. Not only have the formalities of dating died, but so has the cliche, “It’s not you, it’s me,” trope of breaking up.   

Before, entering or exiting a relationship required work such as calls to a landline, a formal date invitation or a definitive breakup. There was no instantaneous communication. Talking was face-to-face, not screen-to-quickly-moving-thumbs. Now, everything is immediate. It’s easy to start talking to someone new; all that’s required is sending a Snapchat or the number of seconds it takes to type, “Hey.” These aren’t grand romantic gestures – they’re barely gestures at all. This can make dating feel less fulfilling, especially when one may be unsure of the intentions or status of this new relationship.  

There’s no set amount of time for the talking phase. The idea is that it’s the precursor to dating, but in reality, it can be the entirety of the relationship. If this is the case – which it often is – then questions about the nature of the relationship may arise. The person on the other side of the screen could be considered an ex, a friend or something else entirely. This becomes frustrating when all of the feelings of a fully-fledged relationship have arisen without a title to match these feelings.

The talking phase is dreaded by those who find themselves wanting to enter into a more traditional relationship. Because of these complicated relationships and dating culture, people are getting married older and less frequently. This change, stemming from casual dating taking on a new form, might  be transforming society as a whole, creating lasting repercussions far greater than an unsolicited Snapchat or the broken heart from a relationship that never technically existed. 

Georgia Leipold-Vitiello is a freshman media arts and design major. Contact Georgia at leipolge@dukes.jmu.edu.