A recent poll found that the number of U.S. adults living without a spouse or partner has grown in the last ten years. That number is currently at 42 percent, up from 39 percent in 2007. But there is one age group that has shown the most significant increase (jumping from 56 percent in 2007 to 61 percent in 2017) and that group is — you guessed it! — millennials. “The share of adults who are unpartnered has increased across the young and middle-aged, but the rise has been most pronounced among young adults,” the Pew Research Center reports.
The article doesn’t offer many theories as to why this might be. But I’ve got one of my own. Feminism (at least whatever “wave” of feminism we seem to be currently in) kills romance.
A recent article on EverydayFeminism lists “10 Things Every Intersectional Feminist Should Ask on a First Date.” Things like, “How do you work to dismantle sexism and misogyny in your life?” “What is your understanding of settler colonialism and indigenous rights?” and “What are your thoughts on sex work?” I mean, come on! On a first date?! Questions like these should be saved for at least the second or third date. Which you won’t be having. Because you think these are appropriate questions to be asking someone on a date. No wonder these people are living alone!
Okay, sure, that’s probably a pretty extreme example. Most millennials aren’t asking those questions of their potential mates (at least I hope they’re not). But in a culture of written sexual consent contracts, and classifying being asked out on a date as sexual harassment, it seems like something has gone wrong when it comes to dating.
See, in my experience, a first date ought to be about chemistry. Are you physically attracted to each other? Do you make each other laugh? Do you seem interesting to one another? Does your date tell a good story? Does he seem driven, ambitious, smart? Does he treat you well? Is he a gentleman? You know, first impressions. I mean, I’ve been out of the game for a while now, but I’m fairly certain grilling your date with weird, obscure, incredibly pointed political questions is kind of a turn-off.
Part of the problem, I think, is that people have become afraid of opinions they disagree with. The need for “safe spaces” and the removal of all things “triggering” is indicative of a complete inability to see that people with opinions that differ from your own might still be people worth knowing. Sure, that EverydayFeminism article might be over the top, but that kind of thinking speaks to the current mindset that a potential mate’s political and social viewpoints must align exactly with yours. Any deviation strikes him from the list of possible boyfriends.
I mean, yeah, you want to make sure your date isn’t a rapist, or a racist, or a plain old jerk. But just chatting with him about regular first date stuff (what do you do, what are your hobbies, that sort of thing) will probably reveal those traits pretty quickly. And, yes, there are certain political viewpoints your date might hold that you may not be able to get over. But I bet there are actually fewer than you might think. And I think, too, that a first date probably isn’t the place to discover them.
If you don’t believe that a man should find your physical beauty worth complimenting, or that he should hold the door open for you, or pay for dinner, if you think he shouldn’t tell you he loves your laugh, or thinks you’re cute, then a date becomes simply a transaction. Does he meet these very specific ideological requirements? Yes? Well, then we have a deal (regardless of whether there’s any chemistry at all). No? Well, then, you’re fired.
In all seriousness, I’m sure there are lots of reasons why the number of young adults living with a partner has declined, but this culture of transactional dating certainly isn’t helping. If girls can’t flirt like girls, and boys can’t flirt like boys, if both parties must sign a written consent form before engaging in any sexual activity, if both people’s worldview must be identical, then there’s very little hope of anyone finding a compatible partner. Ladies, take it from me, the right guy for you is out there. He’s just probably not going to want to talk about sex work on a first date.