The Sunday Styles section of yesterday’s New York Times featured an article entitled, “The End of Courtship,” about the complicated dating scene that millennials are navigating as they struggle to find a romantic partner.
Last night’s first episode of the second season of Girls touched on much the same theme. Both left me wondering how much different dating really is today from when we were that age.
Ever since it debuted last year, I’ve been a huge fan of the HBO show. (Along apparently with everyone else: Girls won a Golden Globe last night for Best TV Comedy Series, and producer Dunham won a Best Actress award.) Still, I have to say that I didn’t think the first episode of this season was all that great. Hopefully, it was just setting the scene for what’s ahead and updating us what everyone is up to, relationship-wise. To recap:
° Hannah and Adam are no longer together, although she’s spending plenty time taking care of him and the leg that he broke in a car accident last season. Adam claims to be totally in love with Hannah, but she’s now involved with Sandy, played by black actor Donald Glover. (A conspicuous response to widespread criticism last season that the show was “too white”?) Hannah also living with Elijah, her ex-boyfriend who, as it turns out, is gay and is now dating George, an older guy who, we learn, “pays for everything.”
° To extent that they were ever together, Shoshanna has “broken up” with Ray, the guy to whom she lost her virginity last season. She’s pissed at the way he treated her — but not pissed enough to reconnect with him at a party.
° Marnie is floundering: She doesn’t have a job (she got fired) or a boyfriend (last season she broke up with Charlie, her college sweetheart.) Now she’s lost and lonely — and confused enough to crawl into Charlie’s bed at the end of the show. “I just want to sleep next to someone,” she says.
° Too soon to tell what’s going on with Jessa and Thomas-John, the Wall Street guy she impulsively married at the end of last season. But instinct tells me that drama is in store
Millennial dating? Yup, it’s complicated.
But I’m not sure how much different the dating scene is, at its core, from how it was a generation ago. Obviously, there are certain new variables: Unfriending someone on Facebook or being able to send an instant text message definitely puts a new twist on romantic dynamics. And, if the cast on Girls is any indication, more people are hooking up a little more casually — and getting naked more quickly — than most of us did when we were that age.
But to me, the overall experience of the twenty-something dating scene seems very much the same. Experimentation. Guilt. Jealousy. Hurt. Confusion. Isn’t that what lots of people go through as they struggle to figure out what’s really important in a partner and what they really want? Really, isn’t that what this decade of life is all about?
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Is the “courtship” experience of today’s young people — as portrayed on Girls and the New York Times— really all that much different from what you went through at that age?
Please weigh in.
Photo: HBO/Everett Collection