Love in the era of apps and emojis

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There have been two great sexual revolutions in the past 50 years, and we are smack-bang in the middle of the second one.

The first was the advent of the birth control pill in the Sixties, which freed women from the tyranny of fear of pregnancy, gave them choice and control over their sex lives, and brought about the era of “free love”. Coinciding with the rise of a youth culture hell-bent on tearing down the claustrophobic morality of previous generations, the Pill fuelled a bonk-fest the likes of which hadn’t been seen since Sodom and Gomorrah copped a bit of divine wrath. People who were over the age of consent during that period will tell you that it was an extraordinary time, an age of romantic and sexual possibilities that redefined human relationships.

The same thing is happening again now, and this time technology is the driver. Instant personal messaging on smartphones, websites facilitating all types of coupling, dating apps, computerised match-making … these tools have changed the way we look for love. Mostly for the better.

Everyone can play

Technology has democratised the dating game. Anyone can participate. Hooking up is no longer just for the cool kids and the beautiful people and those with the gift of the gab. Before the Internet gave us access to everyone else at the touch of a button, you had to make an effort to go out and meet people. This was agony for shy types or those self-conscious about their looks. Social awkwardness is a powerful inhibitor.

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Typically someone looking for romance would have to try their luck in a bar or at a party, relying on small talk in a noisy and crowded environment to make an impression. Or true love could bloom at work – if you were fortunate enough to work in a place that had a pool of potential dates.

With the advent of online dating, the horizon has expanded. No matter where you are or what you do, you are in the game.

The advantages of technology

Online dating long ago cast off any stigma. It is perfectly socially acceptable for anyone in any age group to reveal that they have met their sweetheart this way. Chatting people up online allows you to use your brain as a seduction tool, which means you don’t have to rely on looks or glib pick-up lines to get noticed. For instance you might have a wicked but subtle sense of humour, the charms of which are lost in a noisy situation. Being able to showcase that attribute before meeting someone is a winning move.

Technology also allows you to audition lots of potential candidates quickly and cheaply, and you also have a measure of control about when, where and how that might occur.

Any drawbacks?

eharmony’s 2015 Relationship Study indicates that about two thirds of Aussies believe the mystery has been taken out of dating with the ability to find out about a person online. I don’t agree with them. People only present a small part of their real selves online. You can’t get the full measure of a person from their dating site profile or Instagram feed anymore than you can from the colour of their hair or star sign.

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You can get a sense of what someone is like – if they are genuine in the information that they post -but to really get to know someone takes time and contact.

The same research confirmed that almost everyone is a bit wary of how people present themselves online, knowing full well that what you see may not be what you get when they show up for coffee. But isn’t that true of people in real life? Long before technology became a dating tool shysters, show ponies and sleaze bags were misrepresenting themselves. Whether you meet your next dating partner online or you’ve been invited on a blind date by a friend, the old rules still apply – take time to establish trust, and if it sounds too good to be true, don’t hand over the spare key to your flat just yet.

The only negative I see with all this wonderful technology is that it allows cheaters to thrive. ‘Secret’ communication is so much easier now than in those ancient times before texting and email. It’s a hazard, but then there have always been cheaters too.

It’s up to you

The bottom line is that, regardless of the advantages technology brings to the dating table, you still have to put in an effort. Just throwing a nice picture and some innocuous words together for an online profile and sitting back hoping for the best may work, but being proactive will work better. Reach out to people you’re interested in. Don’t get disheartened by rejection, because it’s happening to everyone else too. The more people you engage with, the more likely you are to form a happy match.

Do you think technology has changed the way we date? Let us know in the comments below or join the conversation on FacebookTwitter & Instagram. And if you are ready to narrow down the world of possibilities, sign up to eharmony today- find someone made for you.

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