The Millennial Dating Culture

The Ballito MagazineFebruary 14, 2020

Entering 2020 means we are officially in the 20th year of the new millennium, but a dating culture for millennials has only just begun. Gone are the days of meet-cutes, formal dates, writing letters or exchanging phone numbers, not to mention picking someone up in a bar or meeting organically.


Right now, dating culture is undergoing some of the biggest transformations ever. At the peak of social media and the e-world, millennial dating culture is punctuated by dating apps, swiping left or right, sharing locations, texting, catfishing, ghosting and all-round confusion! In fact, it is such a grey area that millennials themselves remain baffled by it. Here are some terms and trends explained and cleared up for those who wish to understand more (including millennials themselves):

Dating Apps:

With social media, those interested in others can “slide into their DMs” or, in other words, direct message anyone they see online. But dating apps exist for those who are more honest about their intentions, and there are many different options. Tinder is the most well-known, but others include Hinge, Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel and, for the exclusively LGBTQ community, Grindr. These apps work by allowing users to browse through people in their area who fit their specified criteria and either swipe right to accept, or left to dismiss, whoever pops up. If two people accept each other, it means they are now able to start chatting and, if they are feeling brave enough, set up a time to meet in person. Of course, these apps open up the possibility for a whole host of blind dates and awkward meet-ups that often go horribly wrong. But don’t despair, there are definitely some success stories and modern-day couples who claim to have met on one of these apps.

Unfortunately, apps like these also give rise to impersonal and apathetic users who tend to chat to a variety of people at once, and treat dating like some sort of virtual game. Naturally, there are also loads of downsides, or dating scams, such as:


  1. Catfishing — If you’ve been “catfished”, it means the person with whom you’ve been chatting online is not really who they say they are. There’s a whole show on MTV based on this term and it can be quite a traumatic experience, especially if a user starts falling in love with a beautiful blonde girl named Stacey who, in fact, turns out to be their creepy old History teacher, Mr. Jeffreys. It can also be quite dangerous, therefore it’s safer for users of dating apps to meet their new connections for the first time in a public place.


  1. Ghosting— Of course, the impersonal quality of dating apps eventually plays out and, since the connections are forced to begin with, users will often lose interest quite quickly in those that they have been virtually chatting to. If you’ve been ghosted, it means that, out of the blue, your virtual date has suddenly and completely ignored you, which can hurt, especially if you had more serious intentions — as serious as going on a second date, for example.


I suppose the “Boomers” and the older generations may find it a bit sad that, in an age where we’re supposed to be more “connected” than ever before, we seem to have become the most impersonal generation yet. But, of course, the millennial dating culture isn’t all bad. There have been some successes, and it allows those who are single and looking for a relationship to go out and make fate happen. You also get to see what type of people are out there, as well as meet loads of users, who can help you decide what you do and do not like. Millennial dating culture is certainly intriguing and offers many points for an interesting discussion — something that perhaps you can even talk about with your own “Tinder-match” one day.