At pretty much no point in history was dating easy—just ask Romeo and Juliet. And while there’s no sense poisoning yourself over true love, ever, as technology makes the whole process that much more complicated, there are times when it starts to feel pretty tempting. You only have to look as far back as the ’90s to start comparing the present to life without texting, dating apps and, as Shakespeare would say, that cursed social media.
But while it’s easy to see the ’90s through rose-coloured glasses, we do have to give the present some credit—no way would we trade our smartphones for pagers. And one day checking in will finally find us that coffee-savant turned NGO pioneer we’ve all been dreaming about. Surely they too dine at Arby’s.
So to be fair to the past and the present, we’re taking an unbiased look at how the two stack up:
The “Dating Scene”
There is absolutely nothing you can say that will convince us that having to hit the bars and fight off the bump and grind just to find someone is something we would miss. Thanks to the internet, it’s easy to find out where new, cute people into the same stuff as you meet (mixed paper origami while debating the merits of Camus’s existentialist dilemma, anyone?) . For an even simpler approach, plant yourself in the corner of an indie coffee shop and pretend to work while secretly scoping out the clientele. Don’t worry about getting judged, it’s what we’re all here for.
Narrowing down the competition
It’s almost impossible to argue with something that lets you get the ball rolling on your personal life while letting you sit at home in your stained flannel, cuddling the far more reliable love of your life, the cat. While we really can’t argue with the appeal of that, there’s something to be said for having too much choice. Just like a trip to a hot, new bakery leaves us crippled with indecision (and, afterwards, a massive stomach ache), constantly flipping through all those faces to see what’s next isn’t really the best way to find love. That, and there’s pretty much nothing more unromantic than catching your date scoping out their latest options while you’re on your way back from the bathroom (except post-bakery heartburn).
Getting to know them
Easily the first thing that comes to mind when you think about how the dating world has changed in such a short time—and grown more evil—is social media. Facebook’s status as the most hated and most necessary dating tool was made clear in The Social Network when Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg brainstormed the quintessential element of the site—your relationship status. But while it’s tempting to give this one to the ’90s, which at least gave you some sense of discovery while on the first date, we just want to remind you of the time your best friend thought you would totally hit it off with that not-entirely-single person assuming true love would make things right in the end. Thanks to Facebook, we’re never falling for that one again.
Keeping in touch
Actually hearing a cell phone ring these days is kind of like seeing a unicorn—only less majestic and way more awkward. But since texting rules get more complicated with each new dating guide (the proper reply delay time is the current time on a 24 hour clock divided by two, minus the square root of nine plus the number that corresponds to your mood on the chart of your choice, right?) a simple phone call to set up a date is looking awfully tempting*. Sure, we didn’t particularly enjoy those two-hours of telling each other to hang up at the end, but at least we knew where we were going to meet more than five minutes in advance.
*Before completely throwing this to the past, we will give one courtesy point for being able to let someone know when you’re running late. Please note: punctuality is way sexier.
The thing about dating is that sometimes—okay, most of the time if you’re us—it doesn’t work out. And while we can’t deny the satisfaction of finding out your ex is dating someone less attractive/accomplished than you, the clean break of tossing all those memories into a box and then avoiding that sushi place you went to every Friday for the rest of your life seems easier than spending the next five years watching their wedding and baby pics pop up on your screen…or worse, accidentally texting them after a late night out for one more go at something you already know you’re not interested in. Closure, folks, it can’t be beat.
Final score: 3-3
Proving that whatever decade you’re in, dating is just plain hard.