Hard hitting truths about dating as a millennial
Book Review : Millennial Love By Olivia Petter
Every once in a while I venture into the world of online dating. It is more to get out of my comfort zone than to find someone to date. These sporadic adventures have lasted a month at the most. After a couple of days of swiping left and right, I could feel the energy draining out of my body. I used to wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with me that I am so "undateable"(Thank you, Frances Ha). Fortunately, I stumbled on Millennial Love by Olivia Peter this time and I learnt that it was the kind of companion I was looking for in this sad and lonely world, somebody who tells their stories in a self-deprecating way and makes us nod in agreement all the while.
There are no tall claims in this book. It is not a guidebook to find your one true love in this chaotic digital age. It is a collection of extremely relatable personal stories from millennials across the globe. It also gave me a lot of cool names for the many abusive behaviours in online dating - breadcrumbing, orbiting etc. As they say, the first step in solving an issue is labelling it. Most of these behaviours are emotional manipulations. So having a common name helps in knowing that we are not alone in feeling that way.
The book started with the chapter on cool girls and fuck boys. A lifetime of watching Hollywood romantic comedies and don't we all know what these are? Yet, when it comes to real life, are we able to recognize when we are acting out as cool girls or being abusive as fuckboys? Unlike previous generations, we have the means to catch lies sooner and yet we ignore the obvious signs and act cool. In a way, we still uphold the age-old gendered roles while preaching feminism. The chapter had touched on all the nuances of gendered roles in a heterosexual relationship and throws light into the many grey areas of the dating landscape.
Are you the one who constantly watches out for the blue tick mark? Wait, you are not alone. We are all in this together. The anxiety we get when we see our messages as read without a reply is termed as a micro- trauma. And I cannot agree more. The constant anxiety that tickmarks induce and the unpredictability of whether we are being ignored or the other person is genuinely busy, is something that the high tech has no solutions for. This is why, my friends, texting compatibility matters much more than all the other factors in a relationship.
Most of us are high self-monitors. We carefully craft the story of our lives through our Instagram feeds and under most circumstances, our replies are also crafted based on what the other party want to hear rather than what is our genuine thought. Relatable? I have often caught myself scrolling through my Instagram page. Although I attributed my behaviour to feeling grateful for all the experiences, it rarely is the case.
Another trouble is information overload. It is so easy to find personal information about someone with so few clues. Forget about celebrities, how many of us have stalked our crushes and dug every bit of information available on the internet, even the social media profiles that are not being used now? The other creepy behaviour is finding the social media profile with the data available in dating apps and then "sliding into DM" in Instagram because they were not matched. This is called Tindstagramming.
The stories are plenty. It gets creepier and creepier with the floodgate that opened with #MeToo movement. In a way, it is good that there is a lot of conversations going on about consent, emotional abuse, contraception etc. As a woman in her thirties, who tries dating once in a blue moon, these stories packed so much information. The world around us is not perfect and never will be. That doesn't mean we should never give love another chance. The real change comes from defining what we want out of a relationship and realizing if we are ready to have it.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the current dating world. I also started listening to Olivia Peter's podcast. It's been a roller coaster ride with Millennial Love so far and I am glad that I took the ride.