Dating apps like Tinder are revolutionising the way romance works. © Tinder

Big ideas of 2015: the new monogamy

A new dating culture is on the rise
December 10, 2014

The new monogamy... isn’t monogamy. A new dating culture is on the rise, fuelled by smartphone-based apps. The stigma of online dating has gone, and attitudes to romance and relationships have shifted with that. Dating more than one partner at once is increasingly  acceptable, even if, as is usually the case, the parties are unaware.

“This more open approach to dating is partly caused by the career-mindedness of this generation,” says social psychologist Amanda Gesselman of the Kinsey Institute. “People are putting marriage and children off until their late 20s or early 30s to gain financial stability. This leaves time for multiple dating and sexual ‘hook-ups’ to try out partners until we choose one to commit to.”

Tinder, which now has over 50m users worldwide, was the first app to offer a revolutionary service. It uses your location and Facebook profile information to find matches based on their proximity and shared interests or friends. Its success has provoked imitators, allowing users to search for everything from long-term love to illicit affairs.

“Anyone who has a free evening and is a bit bored can download an app and go on a date that same night if they are strategic about it,” says Helen Croydon, author of Screw the Fairytale: A Modern Girl’s Guide to Sex and Love. “These apps have made dating into a fun hobby rather than a purpose.”

Is this changing attitudes to monogamy? Some relationship counsellors think so, pointing to apps such as leading extramarital dating service Ashley Madison (22m members), which make it easier than ever before to cheat discreetly. Other non-monogamous options such as polyamory (where there is one central relationship and several satellites) are also moving further into the mainstream; a character on the reality TV show Made in Chelsea NYC describes himself as polyamorous. Is that new? No. Is it easier? Yes. 

“This is a cultural trend which reflects our changing values and natural desires, “ says Croydon. “As a society we, especially women, are more independent and fulfilled. Relationships are viewed as more short-term experiences. We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that the ideal relationship is life-long and monogamous, but technology has given us the means to be true to our desires.”