By Erika Ettin Tribune News Service.
As Thanksgiving is upon us, it's time to put aside our pride and simply be thankful for the blessings we have in life: our health, our family, and Tinder?
In this day and age, we can do just about anything with technology: read a book without flipping a single page, have groceries delivered with the click of a button, see our friends on the other side of the world on our screens, look at all of our ex's Facebook pictures (wait a minute... don't do that!), and even find a date.
As Aziz Ansari noted in his recent book "Modern Romance," a 1932 study showed that one-third of married couples had previously lived within just a five-block radius of each other. Case in point: My parents were next-door neighbors, and they celebrated their 35th anniversary this year.
Let's compare that to my own dating experiences. I sign up for a dating site like OkCupid. I email a number of people. Some respond, some don't. I line up dates with those who do. The end. Quite a different story, huh?
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for my wonderful friends and family, my health and the success of my business and my clients' relationships, I'd also like to share five reasons we should be thankful this year, as it relates to dating:
1. Online dating exists. Do you think the Pilgrims had a way to easily and efficiently meet people across the Mayflower, let alone across the world? Their best place to flirt was likely over the ear of corn they were growing in the fields, not on their couch in front of the TV using some new-fangled technology we like to call the Interwebs. Now it's easy as pumpkin pie.
2. We have options. We live in a time when, for most of us, the choice of the person we date and/or marry is ours and ours alone. Of course, parents have some influence in this decision, as do friends, but you ultimately get to choose the person who makes you the happiest. Arranged marriages were the norm worldwide until the 18th century. I feel lucky to live in this day and age.
3. Interracial, interfaith and same-sex couples are more widely accepted. A study published in November of 2013 by Kevin Lewis, a University of California San Diego sociologist, suggests that racial barriers to romance are not as daunting as we might suppose. He did his research by analyzing the patterns of 126,134 OKCupid users in a two-and-a-half month period. He found that while people often still mainly reach out to others of their own racial background, they are more likely to return a cross-race email than previous research would have led to us to expect. And once they have replied to a suitor from a different race, they are then more likely to cross racial lines and initiate interracial contact in the future.
OkCupid also now has so many additional choices for sexual orientation besides straight, gay and bi-sexual, ranging from sapiosexual (someone who finds intelligence the most sexually attractive feature; guilty as charged) to homoflexible. We've come such a long way that the rest is just gravy.
4. There is more gender equality, especially with online dating. While I am still a proponent of chivalry when it comes to opening doors and paying on a first date, I also strongly encourage women to reach out first online with a short and sweet message if someone strikes their fancy.
5. Dating can be fun! I know it's sometimes exhausting after a long day of work to motivate yourself to meet someone new, especially when you just want to be a couch (mashed?) potato. But it's also exciting to think that someone you meet _ maybe the next date _ could alter the rest of your life in some way. Maybe you'll get butterflies, maybe you'll learn a new recipe or maybe you'll simply hone your conversation skills. Regardless of the outcome, take advantage of the opportunity to meet new and interesting people.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday! Happy dating! ___ (Erika Ettin is the founder of A Little Nudge, where she helps others navigate the often intimidating world of online dating)