Here are my comments on the book:
How does romance in the modern age compare to before? Comedian Aziz Ansari, who teamed up with several scientists to aid him in his research, states that never before have people been so overwhelmed with the number of available options that it’s difficult to settle down with just one person. Ansari states that both the increase in technology and women’s rights are also contributing factors to this dilemma people have and as a result, the age at which people are getting married at is increasing. In this comedic book, Ansari bases his findings mainly on studies conducted in America in various facets of romance. However, a small segment of the book is dedicated to his findings on love and romance in Tokyo, Paris, and Bueno Aires. Here are some of the points to the book:
1. Before the modern age, a good percent of married couples found their spouses close by to where they lived. A good portion of couples would get married at a young age (relatively speaking) as marriage for women meant obtaining “freedom” from their parents and to be financially “independent.” For men, it meant finding a wife who could cook, clean, and take care of them. In addition, the meaning behind a marriage was different from what it is today; both partners had a “defined role.” “After our interviews we examined whether this spoke to a larger trend. In 1932 a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania named James Bossard looked through five thousand consecutive marriage licenses on file for people who lived in the city of Philadelphia. Whoa: One-third of the couples who got married had lived within a five-block radius of each other before they got married. One out of six had lived within the same block. Most amazingly, one of every eight married couples had lived in the same building before they got married.” He later states, “until they got married, these women were pretty much stuck at home under fairly strict adult supervision and lacked basic adult autonomy. They always had to let their parents know their whereabouts and plans. Even dating had heavy parental involvement: The parents would either have to approve the boy or accompany them on the date. At one point during a focus group with older women, I asked them straight out whether a lot of women their age got married just to get out of the house. Every single woman there nodded. For women in this era, it seemed that marriage was the easiest way of acquiring the basic freedoms of adulthood.” He then says, “To figure out why people today use such exalted terms when they explain why they committed to their romantic partner, I spoke with Andrew Cherlin, the eminent sociologist of the family and author of the book The Marriage-Go-Round. Up until about fifty years ago, Cherlin said, most people were satisfied with what he calls a “companionate marriage.” In this type of marriage each partner had clearly defined roles. A man was the head of his household and the chief breadwinner, while a woman stayed home, took care of the house, and had kids. Most of the satisfaction you gained in the marriage depended on how well you fulfilled this assigned role. As a man, if you brought home the bacon, you could feel like you were a good husband. As a woman, if you kept a clean house and popped out 2.5 kids, you were a good wife. You loved your spouse, maybe, but not in an ‘every time I see his mustache, my heart flutters like a butterfly’ type of way. You didn’t marry each other because you were madly in love; you married because you could make a family together. While some people said they were getting married for love, the pressure to get married and start a family was such that not every match could be a love match, so instead we had the ‘good enough marriage.’”
2. Too many choices can lead to analysis paralysis which is counter-intuitive to human nature; we think that the more choices we have the better. This is true to some extent but once you reach a point where you have too many choices, it becomes overwhelming and you end up feeling worse than if you had only a few choices. In the book The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less written by Barry Schwartz, he addresses his findings on several studies conducted on how maximizing your choices can cause you to end up feeling more sad than if you had just sufficed. In Modern Romance, Ansari makes reference to Schwartz’s book and also concludes that we’re now in an era where we have too many choices to choose from and as a result, are facing analysis paralysis as we’re all trying to maximize from a somewhat “unlimited” pool of options. “Today, if you own a smartphone, you’re carrying a 24-7 singles bar in your pocket. Press a few buttons at any time of the day, and you’re instantly immersed in an ocean of romantic possibilities. At first, swimming through that ocean may seem amazing. But most modern singles quickly realize that it takes a ton of effort to stay afloat, and even more to find the right person and get to shore together. There’s so much going on in those waters, so many quick decisions and difficult moves to make. And of all the challenges, there’s none more daunting than figuring out what to do when you find someone who interests you.” He later states, “When the opportunity to settle down presents itself, the glamour of the single life and all the potential options loom over our heads. The continuing fear many singles expressed in our interviews was that by getting into a serious relationship, they weren’t settling down but settling. In today’s romantic climate, many people are plagued by what we will call ‘the upgrade problem.’ Singles constantly wonder whether there is a better match, an upgrade. This was especially prevalent in larger cities. In walking cities like Chicago and Boston, people described how it was hard to settle down because every time they turned a corner, they saw more attractive and hypothetically interesting people. As one woman told us, ‘For guys and girls equally . . . there’s just so many people. And there’s someone around the corner or uptown or downtown who you might like just a fraction better than the person who’s across from you right now.’”
3. For those of you who are trying to get something going with someone, check your spelling and grammar before you send your messages. No one likes unintelligent people and that could very well be a deal breaker for your intended reader. I’ve personally never experienced this before but I’ve heard stories from others who have broken it off or lost interest in their (potential) partner due to a lack of basic knowledge. “In any interviews we did, whenever bad grammar or spelling popped up, it was an immediate and major turnoff. Women seemed to view it as a clear indicator that a dude was a bozo. Let’s say you are a handsome, charming stud who really made a great first impression. If your first text is ‘Hey we shud hang out sumtimez,’ you may just destroy any goodwill you have built up. On our subreddit we were told a story about a man who was dating a spectacular woman but eventually broke up with her. He said it went downhill once he texted her asking if she had heard about a party at a mutual friend’s house. Her response was ‘Hoo?’ Not ‘Who,’ but ‘Hoo.’ He kept trying to force the word ‘who’ into conversation to make sure this beautiful woman could spell a simple three-letter word. Every time, she spelled it ‘hoo.’ He said it ruined everything. (NOTE: We did confirm that this was a woman and not an owl.)”
By Ryan Timothy Lee
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