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Stephanie Reads Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

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Having recently joined the dating world, I was curious about Aziz’s new book Modern Romance. And since he is hilarious in the written form, at least on social media, and also on one of my favorite shows of all time called Parks & Recreation, I figured the book would be entertaining. And that’s exactly what it was, as well as extremely informative and full of intense research and accounts from real people in the dating world—in the past and today. He traveled all over the world, ate some delicious food (damn, the dude really loves his burritos and ramen), and interviewed people that exist all in completely diverse dating worlds.

What I found most interesting is that people from our grandparents’ era were more likely to find their future spouse in someone that lived down the street or even in the same building. And the main use of apps like Tinder are to find people in your vicinity. You can set the parameters based on mileage—and I have mine set at 5 miles because who wants to travel too far for a date? Or end up dating someone who actually live 20 miles away. That may seem harsh, but hey, when you live in a city that relies heavily on public transportation (and when you don’t have a driver’s license, like me), close proximity is an important factor. If you live in a more suburban or rural environment, your range will likely be a lot wider. But I’m speaking specifically from a Chicago perspective.

Either way, not much has changed from then to now, except the prevalence of technology being our go-to way to find a date. We won’t walk down the street in hopes of finding a dude (well, maybe some of us will and hats off to you, brave soul). No, it’s much easier to lie on your couch watching How I Met Your Mother for the millionth time swiping through the available lads of Chicago.

The other big factor Aziz touched on in his book is the culture of texting. He relates this to an exchange he had with a woman that he texted about a date, but never heard back (even though he saw the ‘typing’ dots come up and disappear with no response. THE DOTS WERE THERE. SHE READ THE TEXT, MAN!). His hilarious recount of all the emotions he went through from excitement to anxiety to anger to denial to acceptance seems utterly ridiculous until you are waiting to hear back from someone you like. Someone that you’ve put yourself out there for and bravely suggested hanging out again. Every time your phone buzzes, your heart races and then instantly drops when you realize it’s just your dumb best friend making a Portlandia reference. Eventually, over the course of several days, the anxiety subsides and you just accept the fact and disappointment that the person might not be that into you.

Aside from just the stress of setting up dates with someone you like, there’s the whole nature of texting itself and just attempting to conduct natural conversations. Aziz laments that dudes really suck at texting. (I swear, if one more dude asks for boob photos without ever having met me….) And the important thing is to distinguish yourself from all the other dudes that suck at texting. He explains that the generic “hey, what’s up?” text isn’t going to get anyone’s attention because that same girl you’re texting probably has five other guys saying the exact same thing. In my experience, this is definitely true, but even worse than the “hey, what’s up?” is just a “Hi” or “Hey.” Why bother texting if you have nothing to actually say? Us ladies would rather just not be bothered. Because then we feel pressured to respond, but also have nothing to say or we would have texted you in the first place!

Aziz recommends skipping the small talk and getting straight to meeting in person. So, a good initial text is to just suggest a date. I would agree with this because you really don’t want to waste weeks of getting to know someone through text only to find out you don’t really click in real life. Maybe getting to know someone is never a waste, but when there’s a long line of suitors all wanting to get to know you, it’s exhausting. That sounds super arrogant, like oh I have sooooo many guys that like me, I’m soooooo special. But being female and on a dating site looking for a dude — there are always more. (That doesn’t mean more is better, of course. But at least there are a zillion options.)

Once you’ve done the initial date, Aziz suggests giving people more than one chance, even though there are always more. This is a good idea in theory because not everyone makes the greatest first impression, but man…sometimes first dates just suck.

The options we have in our current dating world with Tinder, OKCupid, Match, etc. really is overwhelming. I am astounded that I can swipe on Tinder for ten minutes straight and not run out of guys. For people who always think the grass could be greener, it’s hard to disregard that and settle down.

The book takes you through all of these parts of dating from meeting to texting to settling down into a relationship and relates it to his life and to the lives of the interesting people he met along the way of writing this book. It’s a quick read and I was laughing out loud a few times, especially when Aziz would go on a food tangent, but it’s also super explanatory and full of interesting introspection about our current dating culture. Give it a read!

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