I love to read celebrities autobiographies. More specifically comedian’s autobiographies. So, I kind of assumed when Aziz Ansari came out with his new book, Modern Romance, it had to be some take on his love life. I was wrong. Instead, what I got was an interesting, researched read on today’s romantic life in the United States and a comparison to how it was decades ago. Ansari teamed up with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to investigate the topic of “finding romance.” And since it was written by Ansari, you know it’s not going to be some dull, droning piece that will put you to sleep. This book had some great insights into the modern dating life and how it has changed over the years.
As part of the study, Ansari and Klinenberg brought together a group of people from different generations to discuss dating. A quote that stuck out to me from the discussion came from an older woman who was in a successful marriage. She said, “We grew up and changed together. And here we are in our sixties, still together.” Even though they were young and faced challenges in their marriage, they worked through those hardships to grow together.
Ansari also talked about how that generation would get together for a date. The older generation almost always asked one another out over the phone or in person. Now, you can see people getting together over text, Facebook, or dating sites. And even though we have all of this new technology to bring us together…we have seen it can also keep us a part from people who are right in front of us. For instance, during one focus group, they split the room with kids on one side and adults on the other. And what happened? The adults were able to carry on conversations with one another, while the kids were on their phones. Is this a sign we losing the art of face-to-face conversation?
Here’s another interesting tidbit… Ansari discusses a finding by behavioral scientists on the “power of waiting techniques” as they are applied to messaging a potential date. According to the study, when the lab animal pushes a lever, it is “rewarded” with a treat. The animal continues to push the lever with a treat appearing each time. Eventually, the animal will wait longer between pushing the lever because it knows the treat will be waiting when it does. Hmmm….interesting. So, basically, if a person texts back immediately over and over again eventually the other person will start to take him or her for granted and won’t feel a strong urge to text back because he or she knows they will get an immediate response. This is basically kind of horrible because if a person doesn’t want to play games when getting to know someone you kind of have no choice. You have to strategically wait longer periods of time before texting someone back. Ugh, exhausting!
Ansari also shares some of the best advice he got for finding someone. He had been out to bars and was coming up with no luck. No girlfriend. Then, a friend told him to start acting like a “decent person.” “Go to the grocery store, buy your own food, take care of yourself. If you live a responsible life, you’ll run into responsible people.” Makes sense. Ansari does mention he now has a girlfriend.
This novel is filled with interesting insights into online dating, texting, love in other countries, and finally settling down. This is definitely worth a read if you would like to gain some understandings into modern dating, and how it has evolved from previous generations. I loved reading the stories from the older generation focus groups. Plus, it didn’t hurt that he had comedic tid-bits scattered throughout the book.
He concludes his research with his findings, and one that stuck out the most was: “Finding someone today is probably more complicated and stressful than it was for previous generations –but you’re also more likely to end up with someone you are really excited about.”