By Heather A.
4 out of 5 stars ★★★★☆
At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?
Some of our problems are unique to our time. “Why did this guy just text me an emoji of a pizza?” “Should I go out with this girl even though she listed Combos as one of her favorite snack foods? Combos?!” “My girlfriend just got a message from some dude named Nathan. Who’s Nathan? Did he just send her a photo of his penis? Should I check just to be sure?”
But the transformation of our romantic lives can’t be explained by technology alone. In a short period of time, the whole culture of finding love has changed dramatically. A few decades ago, people would find a decent person who lived in their neighborhood. Their families would meet and, after deciding neither party seemed like a murderer, they would get married and soon have a kid, all by the time they were twenty-four. Today, people marry later than ever and spend years of their lives on a quest to find the perfect person, a soul mate.
Aziz Ansari explored how romantic relationships are formed in the modern age through this book (with sociologist Eric Klineberg), his Madison Square Garden stand up special, and his Netflix show, Master of None. I really liked how they were all interconnected without feeling too repetitive. We get it, Aziz, you obsess over your food so much you always think there is something better and the same applies to women. What was interesting in Modern Romance is how Aziz takes his romantic issues — and issues that are widespread through the generation — and gives them a history of change. Why are young people always in search of the next best thing?
Aziz’s analysis of multiple different studies, interviews, and other data all culminate in a well-rounded study of how people match up: online dating, apps, bar-hopping, adds to the much broader conversation. Of course, the focus of the book is straight couples, rather than same sex or other identities because he wrote that researching those relationships would be a whole other book. In addition to speaking with young people who date in America, he also pulled data, ran focus groups, and interacted with people from Japan, Paris, and Argentina to see how modern romance is defined throughout the world.
A lot of information in the beginning I found to be self-explanatory, considering I have used apps and online dating, and I have experienced most of the things that Aziz was writing about. He did make sure to cover how dating was centered around family and friends and neighbors prior to the turn of the century, rather than a more broad reaching internet scale of today. I found the more interesting facts to be near the end of the book, when he discussed how relationships have phases of passionate love for around two years and then companion love afterward. Building relationships is a continuous process. It’s interesting to think that people today are so worried about settling that they don’t realize that companion love is building on an established relationship.
The trifecta of romantic exploration is now complete. The book still had humor and jokes throughout so it was fun and quick to read. I never felt overwhelmed by information. Pleasantly surprised.
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