Helen Fisher, PhD

FAKE NEWS…and the real story of love in the digital age

The Washington Post recently proclaimed that “The US is in a Crisis of Love.”  Many Americans agree—currently regarding America’s singles as commitment-phobes who are retreating to their bedroom computers to duck romance and attachment.  Really?  I and my colleagues at Match wanted to see if this was true.  So in our 9th annual survey, known as Singles in America, we polled a representative sample of 5,000+ adult singles of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and regions of the country to get to the real scoop.

Indeed, it’s fake news: 60% of singles report that they seek romance; and 71% want to make a life together–while only 9% want to “date casually.”

Today’s singles are being smart about love too.   Some 40% say they first want to build self-acceptance—a good component of a healthy partnership. And one out of three want to get their finances in order before cupid strikes.  Moreover, more than half of young singles have created a dating profile on a dating site or app.  But rather than just looking at photos, then carelessly pursuing “him” or “her,” 68% say they assiduously assess a potential partner’s profile.  Few are willing to spend their precious time, money and energy pursuing a romantic dead end for very long either.  Instead, after about four months of dating someone, many launch the DTR conversation: “Where are we headed?”  And tktk% depart if the relationship is heading nowhere. 

But today’s singles are slow and careful.  They don’t want to “catch feelings” until they are ready—thus fueling an impressive new social trend, what I call “Slow Love.”  Some 70% cautiously begin a partnership as “just friends.”  Then they slowly become friends-with-Benefits to see if they are compatible between the sheets—another important part of most relationships.  Even later, they inform friends and kin of their budding relationship and embark on an “official first date.”  And only after a long stretch of living together, do they wed–often some six years after meeting.  Where marriage used to be the beginning of a partnership, today it’s the finale.  

I’m impressed—because academic data clearly show that the longer you court and the later you wed, the more likely your marriage will last. Surely, courtship is changing with changing times.  But love is not dead.  It’s a primordial brain system that will endure as long as we survive as a species.  And today’s singles—particularly our young—are taking love seriously and proceeding with elegant sanity.  Bravo to them.