Throughout history, every culture has seen changes in their dating (mating) rituals. From matchmaking and arranged marriages to high school dances and drunken nights in Las Vegas, technology has been found to be a catalyst in one way or another to these dating changes.
Advances in communications and transportation mean that people could interact with and travel to visit potential partners outside their neighbourhood, workplace, or circle of friends and family. Industrial advances lead to a shift away from farming to manufacturing and then to services. Mass production of print materials saw an increase in literacy and skills.
The choices for careers, lifestyles, and residences then increased exponentially for many.1 Even those who found themselves limited by long-standing cultural traditions could still find ways to leverage technology in their love lives.
And now, in the 21st century, the era of smart mobile devices and broadband communication – even sometimes in the most remote of regions – technology has taken meeting, getting to know, then dating with the hopes of a long-term relationship simpler and more complex at the same time. This situation may seem like a contradiction, but it can be the beginning of something enduring and beautiful.
In some cultures, it used to be (and in some cultures, it still is) that marriage had less to do with love than it did with politics and economics. Amongst royalty and the elites, marriages were arranged to jockey for power by creating alliances that one or both families could leverage. For the rest, it was a matter of finding financial stability.2
As time progressed and technology levelled the playing field, creating a larger middle class with a greater sense of independence, this became less and less relevant.
No longer held back by political or economic machinations, men and women found themselves looking for more personal connections with potential partners. And with this change in criteria, the idea of true love opened up to so many.
Men and women began interacting in more and more places. Beyond local neighbourhood and community events, men and women were meeting at university, at work, in different cities. Behind all that, technology was at work, freeing up time, creating more opportunities to meet like-minded people that also sparked attraction, and then hopefully dating and becoming more.3 Planes, trains, phones, microwaves, computers – these and so much more modern technological advances made it easier to interact with so many more people. The chances for a perfect love connection increased exponentially.
And then there was online dating. Even before online dating, people were looking for their soulmates in all sorts of places. Classified ads, mail order brides, bars, and dance clubs – they were all platforms for meeting and making dates for ages. But with the introduction of the internet and the creation of sites like Match.com
, the channels for people to find compatible mates exploded.
With a few clicks and some simple descriptions, men and women could explore and discover potential mates near and far. And Match.com
was only just the beginning. Technology developed, and other services appeared with more sophisticated algorithms that attempted to make accurate matches for a better chance at successful, lasting romantic relationships.4
Now, instead of hoping to meet someone in a bar, at the local community barbecue, or through friends and family, there are now computer programmes that would work to find everyone who signed up their perfect partner.
Then social media happened. Dating apps
would put people in instant touch with potential dates, either for a casual meeting or for something more serious. Following interests on Facebook or Twitter would connect people with others that had a common mindset and could be developed into a storybook romance.
Telegraphs, faxes, snail mail, and even landline phone calls with no voicemail seem like they were so long ago. Today, messaging, emails, video calls, and social media posts across a myriad of service providers offer so many different channels of nearly instant communications.
Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Viber are just a few of the apps and services that, with a data plan or a WiFi connection, you can communicate with almost any one across the globe.
This more efficient communication
not only allows people to connect for romance, but it also is one of many productivity tools that are almost instantly available. So, people can also free up time by completing work projects and domestic tasks quickly, leaving more time for romance.
There are pitfalls to be avoided, as with any tool, regardless if it is a hammer or a dating app.5 Just like face-to-face communication, being too aggressive by sending too many messages or sharing too much too soon may scare off potential dates (and even friends). And being uncommunicative or reluctant to share may seem too standoffish and interest may be lost, and then connections may be lost. But as long as both parties don’t overthink or try to play hard to get too much, a romance could flourish.
Creating strong bonds
With all these opportunities to seek, find, and share with possible partners, the chance of a deeply meaningful romantic relationship
that will last is increased. You could connect with someone online over a love of your pet beagles and then eventually discover a common interest in gardening.
Then, after communicating virtually for a time, you finally plan to meet in person for things to hopefully move on to the step.6 If you live in driving distance, this meeting could be easy, but with this expanded selection, the chances your true love (or long-term relationship) lives in a distant city, or even country, is not beyond belief.
Here technology comes to the rescue again. Flights are easy to search for and book, often at an incredible discount. And the choices for accommodations run the range to fit any budget. Review sites will help you find the perfect meeting spot. Map apps will make sure you get there on time. Then it is all up to you.
In the end, dating and romance is all about people. Yes, there are some people out there that are using this incredible technology to deceive and cheat others for their own benefit, but that could happen in a bar or at a party.7 Besides, there are steps you can take to make sure that the person you are sharing intimate details with is who they say they are.
And the stigma that some people feel about online dating
has been dissipating, and it has become more socially acceptable. Many people will know at least one friend who will readily admit that they met their partner online.
Technology has helped men and women look beyond their neighbourhoods or family and friends for introductions to romance. Accepting and understanding what lies ahead may help make perfect matches that otherwise may have been impossible. Technology can help lead you to your happily ever after.