This book was honestly a lot more informative than I expected it to be! Ansari (it’s so strange calling him by his last name–like most people, I know him more as a comedian than as an author, but props to the man for being just as versatile as he is hilarious) does a great job at infusing humor and personal anecdotes into his extensive research on what it means to date in the 21st century.
The major American trends that Aziz (dang it! I mean, Ansari) and sociologist Eric Klinenberg identified include:
- A rise in standards and expectations millennials have regarding their romantic partners, due to the fact 1) apps like Tinder and Bumble have shown us that we have SO MANY OPTIONS and 2) we don’t depend on spouses in the same way previous generations did, thanks to widespread education and “biological clock”-pausing practices like egg freezing. With this sort of freedom, millennials are searching for THE One instead of SOMEone.
- The de-stigmatization of online dating. Although Tinder gets a bad rep for being superficial and solely based on looks, Modern Romance very astutely points out that its approach is no different from how many couples meet each other in real life. Strangers are often motivated to initiate conversation based on attractiveness and/or perceived friendliness.
- A decrease in willingness to work on relationships instead of just move on. This is closely tied to the first trend. With the seemingly never-ending amount of fish in the sea, it’s easier to cast a new line than work out the tangles in the current one. (Okay, okay, stopping with the fishing analogies now.)
In short, we want soul mates, Prince(ss) Charmings, and one true loves! And that’s okay, as long as we realize that finding these people takes time and emotional investment. Modern Romance doesn’t condemn technology’s role in our love lives, but rather give a fair warning that we risk commoditizing people and romance by constantly swiping, ghosting, and this-is-going-nowhere texting. Ansari’s advice: let matchmaking apps and sites facilitate introductions, not the entire relationship!
Modern Romance also does a wonderful job at describing romantic customs outside the US. Through his travels to major cities abroad, such as Paris and Doha, Ansari writes in detail about these cities’ vastly different norms and practices in regards to dating. My favorite part of the book was when he went to Tokyo and learned about Soapland, which upon Googling I realized is just as bizarre as it sounds in the book. Yikes.
So, would I recommend it? Definitely. It won’t make you laugh in the same way a Tom Haverford scene in Parks and Rec would, but you’ll definitely learn a lot and recognize that classic Ansari humor in many of his anecdotes.