The Truth About The Dating Playing Field for Millennial Women

“As men, we read between the lines. This is the decoder for what women say: "big boned" means ‘I can destroy your car's suspension’, looking for a "real man" means ‘I need a chump to raise me bastards’, "No games" means ‘You will become my slave and I will get even fatter’. Why take a risk on meeting someone who already lies from the beginning? It’s easier to assume they aren’t worth your time.” says Brandon*, 31, London, UK.

“Ghosting, breadcrumbing, or zombiening is par for the course. There is safety behind a device-you don’t owe anyone anything.” James, 27, LA, CA.

“She whines and complains that the ‘relationship does not move forward’. Yeah, no shit! Because you're one of those people he uses as a booty call, but you're so arrogant that you actually think he's into you (he's actually way too good for you, and you know it, which is why you jump for joy at his "crumbs"). Don't be that girl.” explains Monica, 29, NYC, NY.

Online dating is common practice, leading people on is common practice, and blowing people off is becoming common practice. It’s not that people do these things; it’s that their behavior is being driven by technology. The same technology that is rejecting people via a swipe. No explanation needed - effortless dismissal. It acts as protective factor to cope with the rejection, but it’s also an illusion. Dating is creating a paradox effect: giving off the illusion of many choices, while making it harder to find viable options.

As a behavioral scientist, I found these answers illuminating and wondered what impact this has on people’s real dating options. Do you have the luxury of feeling this way in your 20s when it appears you have an abundant supply of people to choose from? But, what happens to your self-esteem when it becomes consistent rejection and your selection pool starts to shrink? Is it harder to get commitment in a tech-driven world? How has sexual practice changed in the digital age?

According to Lindsey Cummins, Co-Founder and CEO, of Winq reports that:

  • 44% of our users think technology makes it very difficult to approach people IRL
  • 65% of our users consider sex a screener for a possible future relationship
  • 62% of our users wait a few months before asking for exclusivity, while 38% ask after just a few weeks
  • 68% of our female users say that when a guy won't commit to them, it does affect their self-esteem in some way

“In general, as a culture, we’ve reached a sort of pinnacle of the hook-up era, or a ‘dating apocalypse.’ Since that’s the case it’s sort of ingrained in Millennials to jump headfirst into the sex end of things, then explore the relationship part afterward. Apps like Tinder reaffirm this thinking and behavior in their own ways.” explains Amanda Chatel, Sexpert.

I asked two prominent thought leaders, Jon Birger, Author, Date-onomics: How Dating Became a Lopsided Numbers Game and Leading Sexpert Amanda Chatel, for their opinions and some solutions to this problem.

In light of your eye-opening research, why is it difficult for women to ask men for commitment after they've been dating for awhile?

“For the past 15 years, we've had 4 women graduate from college in the US for every 3 men. The end result is a college and post-college dating market in which men have all the leverage. Research on sex ratios and their effects shows that when women are in oversupply, the whole dating culture is looser and less monogamous. Men become choosier and less willing to commit, simply because they have so many options.”

What are some solutions you propose?

Marriage ultimatums. “In the business world, as in the romantic one, ultimatums succeed because they create artificial scarcity in an otherwise abundant marketplace. They make us want more what we fear we may lose.”

Geography matters. “If moving is something you'd consider — and I realize it's not a viable option for many women — cities like San Jose, Calif. and Seattle, Wash. do offer much better dating math for women. It's not a coincidence that the marriage rate for women in Santa Clara County, Calif. — which is a good geographic proxy Silicon Valley — is off the charts and the divorce rate is less than half the national average. When women are scarce — as they are in regions dominated by the tech industry — the culture is more monogamous.”

Dating working class guys. “My best advice to educated women is to consider dating working class guys. A college degree does not make someone a better wife or husband.”

What’s the best way to meet them?

“My best advice would be un-check that college-grad box online. And offline, maybe skip the wine bar on the Upper East Side and try a fireman’s bar in Brooklyn instead.”

Amanda Chatel, Sexpert.

For those seeking commitment, should they modify their approach as Birger suggests?

“For starters, a woman doesn’t need a man to complete herself or her life. Something I want to yell from the rooftops! Secondly, she shouldn’t “un-check that college-grad box” in the name of finding love. Sure, competition is rough out there, but I think the second we start telling women to change who they are, change what they want for themselves and in a partner, everyone suffers. What kind of working class guy wants to think he’s only dating because the woman in the equation ‘couldn’t get anything’ else?”

Why are some millennials more interested in having sex first and exploring the relationship later? Is it a screener? What are the advantages of this method for women?

I wouldn’t call it a screener as much as it’s simply about being the product of a culture that has finally loosened up about sex. We’re fortunate enough to live in a time where women are “allowed” to embrace their sexuality and don’t feel shame in not waiting to have sex. The advantage that comes with this for women, more than anything, is the power of knowing you’re owning the sexual side of you, you’re not sticking to antiquated beliefs of how a woman should “behave.” It’s ultimate liberation – that’s the advantage of it. To quote Gloria Steinem, “A liberated woman is one who has sex before marriage and a job after."

Is sexual exploration helping women have better sexual experiences?

Absolutely. In fact, there’s no doubt in my mind that sexual exploration is helping women have better sexual experiences. Without exploration, and lots of it, one would never know what they like and don’t like; it’s basic math. The exploration of one’s sexual self should be a life-long endeavor, even after one gets into a relationship.

When women who want commitment and don’t get it, how does it impact self esteem?

For starters, a woman could put a spin on this by telling herself she doesn’t want commitment with that person anyway, that she’s better without them, and they’re not deserving of her time. If this is how she spins it, then her self-esteem is impacted for the better. On the other hand, if she lets someone’s desire to not commit to her be something personal, then her self-esteem can be impacted negatively – something that shouldn’t be the case, but if it is, then there’s nothing wrong with sitting with those feelings, then moving on to something bigger and better.

*For the purposes of confidentiality, names have been changed.

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