You may have heard of Aziz Ansari before. Maybe you watched him on “Parks and Recreation” alongside Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones. Or maybe you’re already addicted to his new show, “Master of None,” which chronicles Dev, a 30-year-old actor who tries to make his way through life in NYC, “tries” being the key word. Did you also know that he has added “published author” to his resume? “Modern Romance” recently hit the shelves – and my mailbox.
In fact, two copies ended up in my mailbox — one from a client and one from a friend — so I knew it was a book I needed to read.
Ansari’s writing definitely made me laugh, which is not much of a surprise, considering his occupation as a comedian. And some of the points and pointers in his book are the same ones I would make to my own clients. Below are five key takeaways that I learned from reading “Modern Romance.” Consider it your Cliffs Notes version of the book.
1. We used to look no further than our own backyard for a partner.
A 1932 University of Pennsylvania study showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within just a five-block radius of each other. In fact, my parents met because they lived next door — and they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary this year.
2. Too many options might be counterproductive.
With seemingly unlimited options on the various online dating sites, people often get a case of what I call “Grass is Greener Syndrome,” constantly on a mission to find the next best thing. Even if they find a 9.9, they want that perfect 10. Unfortunately, that perfect 10 often doesn’t exist. Barry Schwartz, in “The Paradox of Choice,” shows that too many options can actually overwhelm our brains, thereby leaving us unhappy. Ansari says the same is true of dating.
3. It’s easy to forget that profiles contain actual people.
Ansari says, “If you were in a bar, would you ever go up to a guy or girl and repeat the word ‘hey’ 10 times in a row without getting a response? …people send these kinds of text messages all the time. I can only conclude that it’s because it’s so easy to forget that you’re talking to another human being and not a bubble.” Take this to heart, and treat people the way you’d want to be treated. No means no, even online. No response means no as well.
4. With so many choices, it’s easy to move on before giving someone a real chance.
This one is related to No. 2 above. As my college boyfriend told me (and I hated him for it), “There’s always another bus around the corner.” Too many people dismiss one “bus” for some inane reason, though. Clients often ask whether to go on a second date if they’re not sure how they felt after the first. They say they don’t want to lead the other person on by accepting the second date. I argue that the whole point of dating is simply to get to know people, and it’s much too hard after just one date or conversation to decide if this person is “the one.” Remember, you’re not committing to anything — a relationship, marriage, children — by going on a second date. You’re just committing to a second date!
5. Breaking up by text is now not out of the ordinary.
This one bothers me the most, although it’s not quite as bad as ghosting; that is, just disappearing after a number of dates rather than having the cojones to actually provide closure. The only person you’re sparing by texting a breakup or ghosting someone is yourself, and you know it. You can tell yourself all day long that avoiding the issue spares the other person’s feelings, but the truth of it is, you’re afraid to do it with dignity.
As I would tell anyone, if you’re in a relationship and ready to have “the talk,” it’s best to have a face-to-face, in-person conversation. Your partner, or soon-to-be-ex-partner, deserves that much. In a 2014 survey of 18- to 30-year-olds, 56 percent admitted to dumping someone via text, instant message or social media. This is a sad state of affairs, folks.
In the end, a lot has changed in the dating world, hence why it’s “modern” romance we’re talking about, not just romance in general. Nice work, Aziz!
Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating. Join her newsletter, eepurl.com/dpHcH for updates and tips.