In high school and college, you're surrounded by new, interesting and single people every day. Your social network expands exponentially, and you have many opportunities to make new friends and meet a potential life partner.
Some do meet a life partner and stick with them.
Others aren't so lucky.
As you approach your thirties, your network begins to shrink again and the prospect of a long-term relationship slowly disappears behind the horizon.
Yet, there are plenty of attractive, kind, funny, dedicated and SINGLE people in their thirties and forties. They simply can't find a life partner. Why?
I believe our 'hook-up' culture has reversed the process of courtship and is sabotaging the ability to find a life partner.
In the old days, you'd meet people who were either friends-of-friends and/or involved in similar activities. Immediately, there was a common platform yet few expectations for anything beyond friendship. These people just happened to be part of your real world social network.
While there might have been an immediate animal attraction to someone in your network, over time - as you ran into them more frequently - a romantic interest might develop. Being part of your network, new contacts and friendships were treated with some respect and dignity. This meant fewer but more accountable random hookups. (It took serious sociopathy to 'ghost' someone in your network.) You were likely to invest more time to determine whether you actually liked someone before having sex with them.
By investing first and leaving sex for later, relationships were given the time to be founded on common interests, and therefore more likely to last.
Today, this process is flipped on its head. Why would you invest the time to get to know people in your network if you can swipe right or left while sitting on the toilet? And what depth of connection can be made without investing more than one day to get to know someone?
Tinder culture has prioritized the immediate dopamine hit of 'hotness' and hookups over the process of courtship. This means more relationships are founded on trivial superficiality. A couple who hookup via Tinder are connecting based on physical attraction and a few keywords in a profile. They meet, lay the pipe and either part ways, become a booty-call or try to build something from there.
For those who try to build a relationship, the only immediate bind is carnal. Friendship hopefully follows over time but often it does not because the connection didn't evolve organically out of an existing network of friends and common platform. The result: a hollow relationship built on a meaningless initial connection...and possibly months wasted.
More often than not, people who meet via Tinder part ways. This is because these hookups are often independent of any network and there is little social pressure to invest in the relationship. With no investment, it's easy to connect with random strangers and simply walk away. Don't like the way he chews his food? Then ghost him and jump back on the Tinder carousel.
In addition, Tinder reinforces the paradoxical notion that the supply of potential mates is almost infinite. This is another reason you're less likely to spend the time nurturing a connection to actually end up with a life partner.
Back in my day, the way to meet someone outside of your network was to pick someone up at a bar or club. That was the Tinder of the 1990s. (Walking up to a stranger in a bar is much scarier than swiping a phone, by the way. So this was only for the brave.) Connections were made on superficial merits and nothing meaningful ever developed. Anyone my age I know who has developed and maintained a deeply connected long term relationship met naturally through friends or mutual interests. Also, they invested the time to get to know the person before (or at least concurrent to) capitulating to physical desires.
My advice to anyone serious about building a long term relationship is to get off the dating apps and instead focus on growing their network. Stop thinking of everyone you meet as a potential mate. Instead, think of them as a potential friend. Build friendships. Out of your expanding network of friends you'll eventually discover where common interests and carnal desire intersect.