By Alison Hillhouse, MTV Insights
It seems everyone these days is bemoaning the state of 20-something relationships, from The Atlantic to the New York Times to Thought Catalog. Just this weekend, the NY Times published The End of Courtship,lamenting that hook-up culture has replaced traditional dating. MTV’s audience agrees – in fact, 8 in 10 18-24 year old viewers say they wish that “dating were more common than just hooking up.” And perhaps surprising to some – that number is the same for both males and females.
In this day of ambiguous text messaging, Facebook stalking and morphing gender roles, MTV research shows that Millennials are having an increasingly difficult time navigating the path from casual hook-ups to FBO. It seems to look something like this:
As Maddy, 21 explains ““Relationships tend to either be married or hooking up. We don’t know what’s in-between.”
We see a lot of what we call “faux-stalgia” among young men & women for the dating rituals of their parents’ era… an era they never actually even experienced firsthand. One collegiate woman said, “Today, it’s not about a conversation at a party and then a date… it’s all about Facebook and texting and will he change our status to FBO. If it’s not FBO, it’s not real. Back in my parents’ day, it wasn’t like that.”
Obviously technology plays a part in muddying the waters, as it facilitates a new “permissible vagueness” in today’s relationships (late night ‘heyyyyyy’ texts, casual encounters, etc.). Plus, there’s less societal pressure to settle down in your early 20’s. A few more interesting dynamics of “love-stuckness” we’ve seen:
Morphing gender roles (rise of the alpha female) have led to a world where it’s unclear who should initiate in heterosexual relationships. While girls complain that guys don’t do enough, likewise, many guys are frustrated that girls don’t play a bigger role.
Consider these two stats: 76% of girls say guys don’t take enough initiative in relationships… and 64% of guys say girls should take more of a role initiating relationships. Though the first-date-rule still holds relatively sacred (both genders generally believe guys should organize and pay), guys feel that girls should play a bigger part in pre-first-date-initiation, and also the facilitation of future dates.
A lot of young men confess to us they are “terrified” of approaching women in bars who can often be “total bitches,” and also harbor some concern they will offend women for offering to pay. Meanwhile, a majority of the young women in our panels say they crave the storybook romance they see in The Notebook and Disney movies.
But my stock is rising…
The ‘more fish in the sea’ adage has never been more true, with the plethora of online dating sites available to ‘shop’ for mates, a giant pool of Facebook ‘friends of friends,’ and many apps that facilitate meeting potentials (we’ve heard tales of people meeting on Words with Friends, and even a guy who picks up girls through Yelp reviews he writes). So not surprisingly, a lot of people just don’t want to commit. As one of our panelists who has had a great deal of success with online dating puts it: “Why should I sell if my stock is rising?”
Faux Sex and the City Mentality
Millennials have a love/hate relationship with hooking up. As the author of The End of Men explains in the NY Times “Nobody says, ‘I love the hookup culture,’ and nobody says, ‘I want it to change and go back.’ ” A lot of our panelists feel conflicted about this dynamic, and many who long for something more serious say they put on a front that they are “cool” with a casual hook-up.
So perhaps not surprisingly, we’ve seen Millennials turn to tech for answers (or at least for a good laugh.) There’s apps like Drunk Dial NO! that don’t allow you to text certain people after a certain hour, and sites like hetexted.com that help you decipher text messages. So maybe now you can finally have some closure as to what that “it was cool to hang out” text really means…
By Matt Cohen, MTV Insights
In true Millennial fashion, the students behind the recently-launched “NYU Hook Ups” Facebook page are taking an organized and responsible approach to…well, anonymous sex. Tackling their new venture with the same dedication and efficiency they’d normally reserve for an extracurricular activity, these students are helping classmates hook up faster and smarter.
Why waste time scanning through hundreds of OKCupid profiles when you can post anonymously on NYU Hook Ups and wait for the “Likes” from potential hook up buddies to roll in?
Some of “NYU Hook Ups” safety and efficiency features include:
- a 2-step verification process to confirm that hook-up seekers are actual NYU students (No need to open yourself up to Craigslist randos when you can stay within the safety of your college bubble)
- a commitment to keeping post-ers “100% anonymous” and to “hook[ing] you up in less than 24 hours” (Sure beats Match.com’s six-month guarantee)
- an advisory urging users to “be careful” and “always make sure to use condoms” (Thank you free NYC condoms!)
As Millennials take unexpectedly responsible approaches towards other “taboo” or “rebellious” behaviors – whether it’s serving as the sober “babysitter” for a friend who is planning to get wasted or using home testing kits to make sure their molly is free of “harmful substances” – this generation is truly redefining what it means to have “good clean fun.”
UPDATE: NYU Hook Ups announced yesterday that they will be transitioning over to a full site with a more sophisticated interface. Could we be witnessing the birth of a new start-up?
- Danniele Meglen, MTV Insights
When I began to brainstorm ideas of what I wanted my wedding to look like, I wondered (both as an MTV researcher and as a Millennial myself) how my approach might be symptomatic of truths about my generation. Here’s what I came up with….my big Millennial wedding:
1. To start, I’m one of those Millennials…someone who thought life could only continue to get better and better based on the 1990s, funded my #1 choice for college using big loans only to see my dad’s 21-year career with a company come to a screeching halt. Needless to say, a dowry-less wedding.
2. Like my generational cohorts, my rents are my best friends. Although they are contributing but not fully funding the nuptials, their involvement is still paramount to me. I’m even forgoing the Catholic tradition of dad giving me away for both my parents to walk me down the aisle.
3. I married my high school sweetheart. But we took a 6-year hiatus from each other after high school to “self-actualize,” then reconnected just a few years ago. First become who you are, then level up in the game of life.
4. I’m designing a one-of-a-kind wedding reflecting our brand of couplehood. Inspiration: obviously Pinterest and Etsy. Result: Retro Hollywood Glamour with a twist. My centerpieces are not floral arrangements but centerpieces filled with plumes of white ostrich feathers. I will, of course, DIY design the save-the-dates, the invitations, programs, and all other creative aspects of the wedding that reflect our DNA.
5. Lack of funds has not stopped us from being super creative and getting exactly what we want. We got the space we wanted for a steal by going with a Friday night as opposed to the traditional Saturday wedding. I competed in the annual Filene’s Basement “Running of the Brides” and was able to score a $3,000 designer wedding dress for $300. I even bought a Gilt City deal for my favor bags.
6. I’m crowd-sourcing opinions. “Anyone have suggestions on where I should get my dress altered in Chicago?” on my Facebook Wall opens a barrage of “helpful” comments. Don’t think I haven’t tried to figure out a Kickstarter way to fund this one too.
7. I went paperless with RSVP’ing through our wedding website. The idea was the straw that broke my Boomer mom. How would grandpa RSVP? I reluctantly conceded, offering an old school phone number. We’re using smartphones as cameras at the reception and have created an app through AppyCouple that allows guests to directly upload pictures taken at the event. The app is where our album will live.
With just two months to go, there’s no telling what the future will bring for our Millennialized wedding. Will food trucks arrive catering in gourmet munchies and provide our guests a ride home to the hotel? Will our happily-ever-after photos be converted into memes the next morning? Maybe not… but in any case, we’re excited for all the ways we’re making our day truly our own. Stay tuned for the rundown on our honeymoon!
By Jillian Curran, MTV Insights
Valentine’s Day: couples at dinner, single dudes playing xbox….and some single ladies are playing what might just be the ultimate video game - online dating.
As of recent, dating in the digital world has become this generation’s biggest & best-kept secret. When asked, 1 in 4 of our viewers at MTV have online dated, while 1 in 2 has “had a friend” who’s done it! There’s something fishy about that math….
We wanted to get a deeper understanding of the secret life of online dating, so we enlisted a crew of fearless female crusaders to sign up on a dating site of their choice, and then document every ;-), photo flirt, and key stroke for 30 days and bring @mtvinsights along for the ride.
We quickly came to the undeniable conclusion that these young women weren’t just dating – they were gaming…and online dating had all the markers of the ultimate female video game.
Perhaps this comes as no surprise. MTV’s previous research into the “game-like” mentality of the Millennial generation revealed that the majority feel that “people my age view everything in life as a game”.
Before they knew it, our crew had been plugged in for hours. Armed with a smart phone as their controller and dinner dates as their leader board, the layers and levels of this process played out like a World of Date-Craft.
Level One: Player Select. For a generation allergic to categorizations, trying to sum up their personality in the “Personal Profile” box resulted in a virtual existential crisis. Each girl explained that the attribute balance was a high wire act between authentic and crafted persona. One participant even admitted having to redo her profile a number of times, admitting that after reading it aloud, it sounded nothing like her.
Picking Player 2 often made them, in fact, quite picky. With a database of a million faces, poses and profiles to choose from, little more than one weird picture or a cocky blurb caused our girls to click on by. One panelist referred to it as “like shopping for dudes.”
Level Two: One on One Combat. With the messages flooding their inboxes, they had to be quick on their feet to decide who to message back, avoid completely or ping. The girls soon formed their list of deal breakers as a “cheat code” to narrow down contenders. The most common dealbreakers:
- shirtless pictures (“omg”)
- the smolder stare (“lmfao”)
- pictures taken with other women (“wtf”).
“I couldn’t help but LMAO at some of the shocking and surprising content our girls shared with us. Guys taking pictures with animals to seem more sensitive, excessive use of emoticons…I mean come on! ”
Flirting in a digital world was a delicate dance of reading the signals in a very thin medium. As most girls expressed, nothing substitutes physical chemistry, so at a certain point, they felt the need to ditch the emails back and forth and make a reservation.
Level Three. Live Action Role Play. When going on a “live actual date”, our girls all expressed a flood of doubt as they met their potential suitors. “I’m in Awkward Land!” said one panelist. While most girls fear he’ll be a serial killer, most guys fear she’ll be fat.
The confidence behind the computer screen seemed to disappear at the door of the restaurant. Some dates went well, but most amounted to nothing but a comment-worthy Facebook post the next day. On screen chemistry, it seemed for our crew, was not necessarily a great indication of off screen romance.
Level Four: Game Over or Play Again. Online dating provided, it seemed, a digital shield to protect against rejection and press restart if Level I doesn’t progress to Level II. One panelist said, “If I don’t receive a message back it’s not that big of a blow to my ego since it’s only a date from the internet, it’s not real life. There’s always another game to start, another player to choose….”