CitizenMe Investigates: Love in the modern age

CitizenMe Investigates: Love in the modern age 1280 1122 Claudia Velilla

Has online dating killed our happily-ever-after?

The modern age has given rise to a lot of societal changes, from meme culture and information (or disinformation) freedom, to AI. The internet has created a (sort of) global network, which citizens all over the world can tap into. CitizenMe is a platform through which we can talk to citizens who are creating, participating in and consuming this culture. It’s about time we started asking ourselves what we really feel about the things we think about in life but don’t talk about enough! Although we still have many digital divides to overcome, from linguistic ones to quite literally, electricity-related ones, the world is becoming a smaller place all of a sudden. At CitizenMe we’re discovering the universality and diversity of human experience. This is why we aim to investigate these by speaking to real people, in real time.

The investigative section of CitizenMe (a well-oiled machine of three, in charge of marketing, social media, and in-app content) have decided to don their investigative capes and look into the culture and the human mind through the CitizenMe app.

This time, we’re taking a look at modern romance, what it means, what we know so far, and if it even exists in this day and age of immediate left swipes and dopamine inducing notifications.

With whom do you Netflix and Chill?

To start, we contemplated what relationships are. How many of us are in relationships? How many of us are single? And how many of us exist in the more confusing and mysterious category of ‘I’m not sure what we are, but we’re something – I guess’. Well, we can reveal the answers to all your indiscrete relationship questions, and we’re hoping they will help us understand something about the ups and downs of romance in this day and age.

First off, the majority of our app users are in relationships, with 67% in an ‘established’ relationship and another 10% not sure about their current status (but involved). Only 13% of us said we were single, although that number has varied between 13 – 25% in a sequence of different polls. That seems like a low number, right? From these figures, we could gather that among adults, being in a relationship is something the majority of us partake in. The length of citizen’s relationships lays bare the fact that these are quite stable attachments; our data tells us that citizens are in relationships of 2 – 5 years (22%) and 10 – 20 years (19%) on average.

Now that we know most of us are romantically involved, how do we describe our partner?

We describe them as our companion and best friend, and a majority of us are either happy, or very happy (71%) in our relationship. Most citizens describe it as the type of relationship they want (47%), with a lower percentage wanting to change before calling it ideal (33%). Finally, a smaller section recognise that they are not in the relationship they want (20%). This led us to wonder whether people have conflictive relationships. Surprisingly, 41% describe their relationship as ‘turbulent’, in that they frequently quarrel and have fights with their partner. A shocking 36% have had quarrels on social media, publicly!

From ‘mild flirtation’, to ‘the person you might bring to a family event’.

Respondents understood an involvement to be serious after only 2 months (34%) and 5 months (29%), with the smallest percentage believing ‘serious’ is only from the one year mark onwards (9%). And does a relationship mean monogamy? Yes, for the majority, but interestingly, 14% aren’t sure, 8% are discussing it, and 9% are decidedly non-monogamous. This might suggest that people’s definition of a relationship is not strictly bound by the traditional perception of a relationship (although 41% are married, with another 11.5% divorced). When probed about the importance of marriage, responses standout for the indifference they show. Less than half of respondents, out of thousands, really saw marriage as important, and most would spend less than 5000 of their currency on a wedding. And although less than half consider it important to demonstrate publicly that they are in a relationship, most do choose to publicly advertise their relationship status (70%).

Citizens seem to be mostly romantically involved, but don’t necessarily accept the formal structure of pre-packaged romance sold in fairy tales.

But what about the romantic ideals of citizens?

Well, of 3000 respondents, 74% believe that ‘The One’ exists. We’re not sure whether this means that citizens believe in the crazy, ‘Prince Charming’ kind of love that sweeps you off your feet, the half orange that completes you, or if it refers rather to the romanticism of dedicating yourself headlong and entirely to someone. However you may have interpreted it, it seems we have some very romantic hearts in our citizen community. This conflicts with the perception that traditional monogamy and marriage have been seemingly discarded as the accepted standard.

Then again, is it possible that young people today manage to find balance in the contradiction of being romantic, without ‘buying into’ formal relationships structures?

Enter the Swipe right / Swipe left era

So how does online dating come into play? Well, it turns out that online/app dating has changed us, but less than we might have expected. The most frequently used application seems to be Tinder, followed by Plenty of Fish and OKCupid. However, only 30% reported meeting someone from Tinder in real-life, that number increased only slightly for Millennials (37%). The most frequent way people met their partners is still, ultimately, through friends.

What do people think about social media? Less than half agreed that online dating apps have normalised superficial judgements of people, or that they’ve made it easier to meet people with similar interests. On the other side, people agree that “social media facilitates cheating, but is not the source of it”, and that “being able to meet like-minded people makes it easier to experience love”.

All this data offers some surprising, and some not so surprising insights, but it does confirm one thing: dating apps shouldn’t be seen as having revolutionised relationships themselves. More than anything, they are a tool (primarily used by younger generations). We can identify some changing trends though, the recognition of different structures to relationships, and the diminished weight of formal marriage ceremonies.

An optimist would say that we are freer to define how we choose to love our partners, and how they should make us happy.

Ultimately, citizens have shown that the internet has not killed romance, nor does it seem likely to in the foreseeable future! Don’t agree with citizens results so far? We invite you to express your opinion in our survey. 


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