In 2015, a solid relationship can come from anywhere — whether it's the cramped corner of your office bathroom or that magical miracle-maker in your purse — your phone. But finding a lifelong partner-in-sexy-time who embraces your sleep apnea and laundry day underwear involves different things for different people.
Modern dating is a multifaceted operation, merging old traditions and new technologies — which makes the journey from hooking up to getting hitched more varied than the flavors of condoms on your nightstand. So how, nowadays, does anyone make it from Singles Bingo Night to the altar? Explore some options below, and tell us your road to being made an honest (wo)man in the comments.
What we refer to as "dating" is actually a pretty recent concept. In colonial America, date night meant lying fully clothed in bed, the woman in a nightie tied at the bottom to prevent any unwanted baby making. Sexxxxy. (Some religious communities still take part in this act, known as "bundling.") In Western Europe, arranged marriages occurred well into the late 1700s, serving important economic, social, and political functions. Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage, explains that the practice slowed down when individual choice gained more clout.
Modern dating didn't emerge until the early 20th century, as kids gained more independence. In the 60s, the sexual revolution allowed women and men to let down their drawers and give each other free pantsless massages. More recently, technology has allowed couples to meet via the interwebs, while also encouraging pre-date Facebook "research" and rounds of frantic Googling while coronaboy420 is in the bathroom.
And somewhere in between the quaint dating rituals of yore and Instagram stalking your ex, there are new methods of meeting partners that combine tradition and technology. Many cultures still find partners via their parents, and sites like shaadi.com and indiamatrimony.com have cropped up to aid the search, making the practice similar to your secret, midnight, wine-fueled swipe-right sessions. Digital arranged marriage isn't just limited to Indians: Orthodox Jews and Koreans also take part.
The practice has also evolved to accommodate modern notions of coupling. Reality shows like FYI's Arranged, which follows newlyweds and the families that paired them, is a refreshing antidote to drama-first dating shows. Despite how these relationships are "arranged," the potential for success is still strong.
Case in point: my parents met just two weeks before their wedding day. Thirty-four years and two kids later, they're still happily married. Why? Because soul mates are for saps — real love is grown. It comes from time, communication, and maybe a few judgment-free binge-watching weekends.
Readers, it's your turn. Sound off on how you met your bae. Which dating method helped you arrive at a mutual decision to join your sex bits for eternity? Arranged marriage, online dating, matchmaking, spinning in a circle at a bar and making out with whoever you first laid eyes on? Which method do you swear by, and which would you never try again?
And make sure to check out FYI's Arranged, where couples of various backgrounds navigate their newly-formed partnerships and gain valuable relationship advice that transcends cultural differences. Premieres Tuesday, April 14 at 10:15 pm ET.
Nandita Raghuram is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn.