LET ME BE FRANK: On Modern Romance

The other day I had the opportunity to sit down and have coffee with a couple married nearly 40 years.

I was interested in their story for the fact that it was a story of two strangers who met face-to-face, who initiated conversation while standing in line or sitting next to each other in class.

Go to any classroom on campus today, about 10 minutes before class starts, and you will find students buried deep in their phones, isolated as they wait for the professor to arrive. I asked this couple if they felt their story still would have happened in today’s circumstances, to which I received a distrubing answer: “I don’t think so. I don’t think people make those connections anymore.”

In a world of Tinder, Snapchat, texting and The Bachelor, a show I admittedly love to watch, it is clear that the culture of romance and love has changed rapidly over the past several decades, a change I don’t think our human condition knows how to handle.

Aziz Ansari writes in his book, Modern Romance, “our romantic options are unprecedented and our tools to sort and communicate with them are staggering. And that raises the question: Why are so many people frustrated?”

Is it possible that we are losing the ability to connect with people in real time? Our text messages and social media profiles are so carefully crafted that we are losing that charming, authentic, raw and even awkward human interaction that is the beginning of so many love stories.

We project our ideal selves and search desperately for our ideal companion and get frustrated when we realize the person is a person. There is a problem with a culture that dates the same way they buy shoes. People are not products. There are no warrantees and refunds.

I’m no dating expert or love guru, not by a long shot, but I do know that I see a culture confused and confounded, anxious and lonely. We could learn a thing or two from older couples.

Franklin Norton can be contacted at [email protected]