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Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari: "We should take solace in the fact no one has a clue what's going on"

According to a study by the University of Chicago psychologist John Cacioppo[...], between 2005 and 2012 more than one third of couples who got married in the United States met through an online dating site.

Aziz Ansari's book Modern Romance surprised me a lot. Mainly because I do not really like Aziz Ansari. I've watched his standup specials. I've seen almost every season of Parks & Rec. I have been exposed to all sorts of facets of Aziz Ansari as a performer, and I mainly find myself annoyed by him.

SO. When I tell you that I really enjoyed his study on how people form romantic relationships in this day and age, know that if anything I approached it with a negative bias. But I wanted to read it because

1. Books by comedy writers are the shit.

2. I have done so very much dating via the internet and I wanted to see his conclusions.

3. Penguin emailed me and asked if I wanted to review it, and I did not buy a stuffed penguin from the Penguin Books truck because I hate what they publish.

A worthy purchase

Aziz is much, much more likable in this book than when I've watched him perform. I don't know if it's because he's able to talk with sincerity instead of his constant "aren't I adorable" schtick, or if it's the influence of the sociologist he co-wrote the book with, but when he speaks like a real person, he's great.

He wanted to write Modern Romance because how we date has changed. How we date is always changing, but the technology leaps our society has made in recent decades has changed it drastically. OR HAS IT. (kind of, yes)

In the past, a guy would be thinking, Oh, shit, I gotta have kids to work on my farm. I need four-year-old kids performing manual labor ASAP. And I need a woman who can make me clothes. I better get on this. A woman would think, I better find a dude who's capable on the farm and good with a plow so I don't starve and die. 
Making sure the person shared your interest in sushi and Wes Anderson movies and made you get a boner anytime you touched her hair would seem far too picky. 

He talks about dating apps, the power struggles involved in early relationship texting (some people in his focus groups said their rule of thumb was wait double the amount of time the other person took to text you, which -- those people have some stone-cold self control), and dating in the U.S. vs other countries (namely Japan and Argentina). 

I'm not usually too into sociology -- especially contemporary sociology as opposed to something like "A Study on How Much Ladies Were Into Each Other in the 1890s" (someone please write that) -- but he intersperses Srs Data Parts with things like discussions about how much he loves ramen, and that one time his girlfriend didn't text him back for ages and he thought she was furious with him because of the eternal problem of texting does not communicate tone (cannot say how many times I've gotten in trouble because of this).

Too many past girlfriends' faces

If you've dated through OKCupid, Tinder, or Grindr ("they don't call that dating, Alice"), you'll relate to what he says about how people choose whom to date, what profile pic types are the most popular, and what you absolutely should not say when texting people for the first time. When I was dating dudes on OKCupid AND EVEN WHEN I SWITCHED TO LADIES, the sheeeeer number of times I got a message either saying "hey" or "how's your weekend," good Lord. Aziz stresses that this is horrible, and thank God, because dudes and ladies, you need to step it up there.

The section on Japan was both fascinating and EXTREMELY WORRISOME because apparently "the number of men and women between eighteen and thirty-four who are not involved in any romantic relationship with the opposite sex has risen since 1987, from 49 percent to 61 percent for men and from 39 percent to 49 percent for women."

My note for this is "Holy shit Japanese people are not boning." And indeed, Japan's birthrate is 222nd out of 224 countries. If you want to know why this is (or probably why it is), read this book.

One of the parts I was the most into was the discussion on how what's appropriate changes. Older people think texting someone to ask them to prom is completely inappropriate. I think it's ok, but a little too casual. But people younger than I am think breaking up in a text is okay, and that is SO NOT if you've been going out longer than, say, a month. My generation is already relegated to being horrified by the seemingly rude actions of the next one.

Modern Romance is really interesting, it's pretty short, and he gives dating tips that it took me about five years to learn, so. Worth it.


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