by Yesha Maniar
When I was younger, I had my first glimpse into the realm of relationships. My uncle wanted to get married and my mom facilitated the process, she found and spoke with potential brides. I tagged along with my uncle and mom on these various meetings for possible arranged marriages.
By typical American standards, my introduction to romance and love was a bit weird. However, I had many “normal” experiences with relationships as I grew older. The difference in my experiences and my parents has been a source of contention, at times, and this has always intrigued me.
When did this shift in our culture start, you know, from simply finding a companion to searching for a soul mate?
Comedian, actor and awesome brown boy Aziz Ansari hits upon this transformation in his new book, “Modern Romance,” in which he provides factual evidence from sociological experts to support his narrative about when and how the change in romance began and progressed.
Within the pages of “Modern Romance,” Ansari explores the world of love and how the introduction of technology, such as smart phones and online dating, has changed the perceptions of dating and the mindset we have towards relationships.
He partnered with sociologist Eric Klinenberg to study the trends in romance today, and conducted focus groups to compile data for the book. Ansari’s interesting observations and evidence about the many aspects of romance from online dating to the phenomenon of technologically snooping on your partner, lead to many eye-opening “ahas” for the reader.
There is a lot to relate to in “Modern Romance,” like who wins the text conversation—is it really the person who responds the least?
Early on, Ansari states that this book is not a comedic compilation of his well known amusing material, but rather a series of informative and in-depth research, however, and luckily for the reader, there is still some of Ansari’s signature wit throughout the various chapters.
For example, Ansari mentions his fear of being stalked by an Indian man via online dating, and he includes constant humorous side commentary on the people he met and the reports he read. He also revealed what his code name would be if he was cheating in a relationship, you’ll have to pick up and read the book to find out what it is.
Furthermore, the book becomes more relatable when he writes about his own experiences in the dating world and his current relationship. These tidbits make it much more enjoyable and less like your typical non-fiction book.
Ansari also does a great job of simplifying many of the studies and terms he writes about. It makes his work something anyone could pick up and read at anytime without having to devote a whole lot of brain power. For example, when talking about the process of liking someone, Ansari wrote, “In a sense we are all like a Flo Rida song: The more time you spend with us, the more you see how special we are. Social scientists refer to this as the Flo Rida Theory of Acquired Likability through Repetition.”
Overall, the greatest value of “Modern Romance” is that it really speaks to the experiences and difficulties many young heterosexual people have in the dating realm—especially those awkward text conversations that lead to nowhere.
Ansari also provides some advice in between the lines to help us deal with awkward dates and hurt feelings. He writes about the importance of spending time with another person on a genuine date, and going on multiple dates with the same person as opposed to a series of first dates. One point he speaks on is how we can create meaningful relationships with other people and that finding your “soulmate” is not an instantaneous process.
Ultimately, he writes about how we could be better human beings instead of jerks when it comes to dating.
Ansari ends ‘Modern Romance’ saying, “Culture and technology have always shaken romance. […] History shows that we’ve continually adapted to these changes. No matter the obstacle, we keep finding love and romance. […] the main thing I’ve learned from all this research is that we’re all in it together.”
Yesha Maniar is a recent graduate from Dartmouth College and currently teaches at a charter school in Boston. She enjoys reading a variety of genres and spends her free time in Boston cafe hopping. Next year, she will be attending Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine with hopes of working with young children and adolescents in the future in the field of community health.