How Dating Has Changed And Why We Need To Adapt

by Anna Furmanov

The dating world looks different today.

In the past, a “normal” relationship meant one man and one woman, dating for several years with the ultimate goal of getting married and having kids. After marriage, the husband would provide for the family and the wife would take care of the house and kids. The media, societal norms, and even laws (e.g. who can get married) catered to this dynamic. 

While there is nothing wrong with people who choose this approach, it is no longer the norm.

Some women choose to be the breadwinners for the household. Some couples never marry or have kids. Pansexuality (the sexual or romantic attraction to people regardless of their gender) is being embraced by mainstream culture. LGBTQ+ are now more open about their identity and  make up a considerable part of the current dating pool.

As movements like feminism and sexual liberation have grown in acceptance and popularity, the traditional structure of what a relationship is supposed to look like has changed drastically.

We’re exploring and listening to ourselves and making decisions based on what works for us, rather than on what society dictates.

Dating culture has changed, and this trend is only growing with younger generations that are totally reinventing relationship norms. “Gen Z is more comfortable with breaking the mold with dating than all of the generations that came before,” says Queer Dating Coach Ariella Serur.

But with such change comes much complexity.

Questions like “who should I date?” and “how should we date?” and “is this the right relationship with this person?” take up a lot of mental headspace. There’s also this huge burden for people to communicate their unique needs and wants. Sometimes it can be hard to understand ourselves, let alone communicate what we want to someone we just started dating!

In 2020, the number of US adults that used dating apps was 26.6 million, up 18.4% from 2019. According to Fortune, a record number of Americans used dating apps in July 2021. Millennials spend 10 hours a week on dating apps, according to recent data.

And yet, nearly half of US adults say that dating has gotten harder over the last 10 years.

Why is that?

Great question, with many possible answers including:

  • How many dating apps can you install on your phone in a given month? You can try them all, but swipe fatigue is real, ya’ll.
  • There’s an increased focus on sexual harassment that stems from the #MeToo movement which might make it harder to know how to interact with your date.
  • Most dating apps help people discover those they may want to date, not how to make sure it’s the right person and the right relationship with the person. It’s hard to find someone that’s looking for the same kind of relationship as you, and this only gets harder as relationship norms become more fluid.

We’re not here to say that dating apps (focused on discovery) are bad. They’re wonderful! You can meet people at the swipe of a profile. We’re also seeing a trend where people are using these apps to build meaningful friendships (e.g. Bumble) and to find communities with similar interests (e.g. Meetup).

But nobody seems to be working on the guidance part – how to make sure it’s the right person and the right relationship with this person. What questions should I be asking? What big needs should I be communicating? How can we meaningfully come together in an era of so much diversity, when old rules and habits offer us no guidance?

One word – intention.

We believe that everyone — of every gender identity and sexual orientation — deserves meaningful connections, on their terms. So the question is, what would make a relationship meaningful for you? And now that relationship norms are no longer the norm, how can you describe that vision? How can you find the people who want that, too?

How to be more intentional while dating.

To get what we want, we should approach dating in an intentional way. First by getting clear on what we want, and by being straightforward about it with our partner(s). 

That’s not happening with the dating tech that we use today. Most dating apps focus on the “seeking” mode user experience verses to help you find meaningful relationships.

Before we go on, let’s define what intentional means.

Being intentional means being clear about who you are, where you’re at in your dating journey, and where you want to go. You can want a one-night stand and still be as intentional as someone who is looking for a husband and three kids, two pugs, and a house in the suburbs with a white-picket fence.

Why does this matter now, more than ever?

There’s so much in flux right now. The pandemic has opened up the door for a sort of “relationship landscapes redesign.” We lived through a lockdown (or two) and that has opened up people’s eyes to see that there are different ways to live in relation to work, family, home, dating, partners, and more. It’s given us a chance to say “I’m tired” and “this is actually exhausting” and even “I’m no longer willing to be drained in that way.”

We have the opportunity to reflect on the current social and relationship landscape and how we want to redesign it in a way that’s more sustainable. Because whatever we were doing, well, that’s not really sustainable across the board.

Why we built the CanWe app.

If you weren’t taught how to communicate your needs in a healthy, assertive way–most of us weren’t–it can be difficult to start a conversation like that with someone you’ve just met or even someone you’ve been dating for a while. 

The CanWe experience intends to make difficult conversations (which usually don’t happen early on) unfold in a natural way so that everyone involved can see if they have that common ground. 

Are you on the same date? Figure that out early on!

Yes it’s true, we didn’t build in discovery (aka finding your date) into the CanWe experience (yet). Some people are confused why that is, so we wanted to set the record straight here. It’s simply because there are so many dating apps out there already and they’re built with the “match me with someone!” prioritized experience. 

The thing is, people are still frustrated with dating and dating apps, and we believe it’s because those important questions and intentions are not being communicated. We built the app to help people get to clarity, faster. Because it’s not about finding MORE matches – it’s about asking the right questions and communicating your big needs. 

So cheers to being intentional, and to more fulfilling dating experiences!

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