Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
10 Things I Hate About You Julia Stiles Heath Ledger
10 Things I Hate About You Julia Stiles Heath Ledger
Touchstone Pictures
Wellness > Sex + Relationships

Are Gen Z Romances Taking A Hint From Previous Generations?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NYU chapter.

The “talking stage.” 

If you felt a chill go down your spine, don’t worry, I did too. 

What once was an exciting trial period for new hookups and relationships is now more commonly associated with a kind of purgatory. Typically anywhere from three weeks to three months — for some even a year (ouch) — the “talking stage” is a period of time in which two people chat back and forth to see if they’d want to pursue a relationship. Its origins stem from popular apps among Gen Z like Instagram and Snapchat where Snaps and DMs have become the foundation of any new relationship. However, after the isolation and disconnection of the pandemic, many people have become hungry for meet-cutes and the kind of face-to-face connections found in rom-coms. 

Whether it be a book, movie or TV show, romance has made its return among Gen Z consumers. From slideshows on TikTok of the most romantic and devastating poetry you’ll ever read, to various edits of the hand flex scene from “Pride and Prejudice” (2005) on my “For You” page, we’ve become a generation infatuated with the idea of real, true love. In the 80s and 90s, the generations before us had films like “When Harry Met Sally” and “Notting Hill,” depicting the real, face-to-face stumbling in and out of love that can only be found devoid of instant messaging. According to these films, it’s much easier to fall in love when you can do it looking in someone’s eyes.

When Harry Met Sally
Castle Rock Entertainment

In high school, I remember the talking stage being the end-all-be-all for a 16-year-old. If you were “talking” to someone, you were basically in a committed relationship. However, in recent years, I’ve seen people become more cynical towards the idea of the talking stage. Perhaps it has something to do with people’s need for IRL interactions due to the restricted years of the pandemic. Or, as I’ve noticed, popular dating apps like Hinge and Bumble have begun to lose their hype amongst Gen Z users — many say it feels like a game. 

To get a true perspective from a Gen Z romantic, I interviewed my friend Isabella Tapia who is currently a junior at NYU and a certified “lover girl.” This was her take on modern romance and Gen Z’s evolving perspective on romantic relationships:

Do you prefer getting to know someone online or face-to-face? Why?

I prefer face-to-face because if I can’t see them face-to-face, it feels weird. For me, it needs to be organic and in-person. There is a difference between someone’s online personality and who they actually are. Online personalities are made up of highlights and don’t really reflect someone’s real personality. I guess I’m just traditional.

Do you think the pandemic has made us tired of the talking stage?

I feel like it’s a rising trend of Gen Z hookup culture. I do think there is a correlation between the pandemic and the rise of situationships, though. Either A: people forgot how to have basic human interactions due to the pandemic, or B: people are in a rush because of the primary focus on the talking stage during the pandemic. What makes the talking stage exhilarating is the unknown, and people are now scared of that because they don’t know how to connect with each other.

Opinion on dating apps? Have you ever used them?

Yes, I have used them. It’s a game. I’ve tried dating apps, but I’ve never felt like I really used them. Dating apps are weird because you go into it with the assumption, “you’re hot, let’s hookup,” and nothing more. But face-to-face, it’s more organic and genuine — you feel the sparks and then reach out to that person. “I wasn’t really looking for this but now that I’ve met you, I want this,” kind of thing. Dating apps kind of dehumanize the people on them, and it’s kind of like the way you’d mindlessly swipe on TikTok. It’s wretched out here.

Finally, describe your perfect meet-cute.

I go to the park and sit on my bench to read, and there’s a person minding their business next to me on the bench. They start talking to me about the book I’m reading, and we strike up a conversation. Then, they invite me for coffee, and it goes from there. It’s so simple but feels unattainable because in reality everyone is usually on their phones or in their own world. A girl can dream…

While it’s true that real, genuine connection can be found — and even thrive — in DMs or over text, there’s just something about old-fashioned dating that, for lover girls like me and Bella, is unmatched. Personally, I think there’s something magical about being in the right place at the right time and meeting someone completely by chance. Going on dates and holding hands, seeing someone’s eyes light up as they speak, and getting to hear and memorize the way they laugh makes life and falling in love a little more magical. Yes, have your talking stages and your FaceTime calls… but three months without going on a date? One year? Very unserious if you ask me. With speed dating events and TikTok singles set-ups in Washington Square Park on the rise, it’s clear that our generation seeks romance grounded in reality. The world has opened up again and it’s much safer to be face-to-face than it was three years ago and as a result, people are yearning for genuine social interaction and relationships. 

So, as the generation rife with power and possibility, I say: if we want it, we’ll have it.

Sidney Stubbs is an English major at NYU on the Creative Writing track. Her writing surrounds TV and entertainment, literature, and advice. She loves painting as well as narrative essays, poetry, and romance fiction. She hopes to work in publishing and have books of her own published one day.