Why is Gen Z So Bad at Dating?

One of my professors recently assigned an article about how the Generation Z cohort (aka people born between 1995-2005, depending on your source) has plenty of sex but craves real love. I can admit that casual sex is probably one of our most notorious traits. In my friends' experience and my own, very few of us are in relationships, let alone in love. I started to think about TikTok famous couples and the cringe-worthy “if I was your boy/girlfriend” point of view. I realized that this type of content succeeds because it not only sensationalizes young love, it also gives us a glimpse of what we all desperately want. To be clear, I do believe that there are good-intentioned people in our generation who want to be in love. But how can a cohort of people who crave love also be so darn bad at it? My social media feeds are constantly filled with stories of broken hearts, ghosting, bad Tinder dates, and lonely souls. I came up with a few hypotheses of how we came to be.

Technology and the Internet

You might have seen this one coming, but I think this one is important nonetheless. We grew up in a time of rapid technological change. We went from looking up information the old fashioned way in elementary school encyclopedias to having infinite web pages at our fingertips. I think when social media came into play is where things went catastrophically wrong. We know that people put their best face on the Internet, but we still have a natural tendency to compare ourselves. Once we realized that there are, quite literally, millions of people our age sharing the best (often edited) versions of themselves, it was easy for us to develop a “not good/pretty/skinny/insert other adjectives” enough complex. This eventually made us hypersensitive about our image and, ultimately, our partner’s image. On top of that, the internet gives us a relatively accurate sense of just how many of us there are. Instead of appreciating the people physically around us, we are left thinking that there must be better options in other places and then we are afraid to settle into serious commitments.

Sh*t Hit the Fan

I am going to get real honest here. Our generation has seen some horrific things: 9/11, the stock market crash, school shootings, and possible World War 3 to name a few. Maybe we are so pessimistic (or realistic) that we intentionally avoid commitment despite craving love. There could be a generational trauma that subconsciously causes us to avoid emotional attachment.

Bad Examples

Whether it be divorced parents or too much time in front of the TV, humans learn by watching. People might hate me for saying this, but many of our favorite TV couples are totally toxic e.g., Piper and Alex from Orange Is the New Black, almost every couple on Gossip Girl, and, dare I say, Allie and Noah from the classic The Notebook.

I am not writing this to hate on Gen Z, but because I am worried about how this will translate into our adult relationships. I don’t see current dating habits as a healthy precursor to long-term relationships and happy marriages. This article might sound like a total bummer, but the good news is, I am not an expert and we have plenty of time to make changes. So, be mindful and appreciative of the people around you, detox from social media, and remember that fictional couples can't be our role models.