I went on 38 first dates last year.
I’d like to say I had some sort of grand plan to get out of a rut, like the charming main character in a romantic comedy. But it just sort of happened. I met people in bars. I met people through social media sites. And I met people on sites designed explicitly for dating. I was 29. A little old, a little lonely.
I primarily went out with people around my age. Their attitudes toward dating (okay, dating me) ran the gamut—some wanted to jump into a relationship immediately. Some just wanted to hook up. Some weren’t sure.
It seems like every day I read a new piece about how millennials are only interested in anonymous, no-strings-attached sex, how we’re never getting married and we’re never going to have children. But as my year of dates revealed, people around my age are a diverse group. Plenty of my friends—many much younger than I am—are already married with children.
Some of us are wary of settling down, but why shouldn’t we be? My parents married at 21 and 19 and are still together 40-plus years later, but both told me I didn’t have to marry young. (Way ahead of you, Mom and Dad!) Early marriage worked for them, but it didn’t for many others. We’ve seen the effects of that. We’re not wedded to outdated family norms. We know that rushing doesn’t work, so we’re putting off starting families to have careers.
We’re also pickier than generations before us. We have more opportunities to meet people, and to find out more about our potential partners. We text and email with prospects. We check out their Facebook and Twitter profiles. We can be in contact with them all the time. With information so readily available, the decision of whether or not to stick around is easier than ever. And with Internet dating, finding a match has become something of a numbers game. I wouldn’t have been able to go on 38 dates in a year if this were the 1980s.
Because of all this, millennials are often portrayed as mindless hook-up drones who aren’t even happy about all the tail we’re getting. The truth is that we seem ambivalent about relationships because we’re young people, and dating and hooking up are messy. Besides, it’s okay that our relationships are progressing differently. We’re proud of how much more open and accepting we are of different sexualities, gender roles and relationships. I feel like we’re more honest about those relationships.
I’m even confident I’ll eventually find someone myself. And I don’t think it will take another 38 dates to do it.