The difficulties of dating in the 21st-century could well be summarised in one word. Complication.
A couple of generations ago, relationships seemed to be far more straightforward.
Men and women who were hoping to find singles would head off to social situations where they would come across other singles looking to be paired up. The venues ranged from bars to nightclubs to social clubs. A courtship process would take place and partnerships form.
The 1960s brought a raft of newfound civil liberties to western society, including the promotion of same-sex relationships and a much more positive attitude to interracial romance, at a time when discrimination was still a serious issue in some areas.
The advent of online dating
But perhaps the greatest impact on dating in recent times has been the advent of online matchmaking.
Where singles once had to leave their homes and go to situations where they could connect with like-minded individuals, now they can be given access to a diverse range of prospective partners from the convenience of their own web browser.
All that is required is membership of an appropriate dating site and a lot of enthusiasm. The rise in dating sites and apps has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Difficulties with online connecting
But while this has certainly given singles a diverse range of choice when it comes to selecting a potential partner, it has also introduced difficulties.
For anyone embarking on the process of seeking a date in the 21st century, going online is undoubtedly the most straightforward way to do this.
Most reputable building sites will not charge an upfront fee simply for joining up. Once you have become a member you are then free to begin browsing through the profiles of a vast array of prospective partners.
This is where the choice factor of online dating really comes into its own.
The websites themselves tend to have inbuilt algorithms which ensure people are only introduced to suitable candidates. This saves a lot of timewasting or potentially embarrassing situations, as completely incompatible people are no longer forced together.
On the other hand, there are certain drawbacks when it comes to meeting people in an online situation.
Knowing who you are talking to.
No one can ever be 100% certain of the character of someone who exists as a username at the end of text messages.
In certain situations, the profile picture that has been uploaded by an individual might not necessarily be a recent one. In other instances, it has been proved the profile itself has often been completely fabricated.
Because there is no way you could possibly know that much about someone who is, to all intents and purposes, still a complete stranger to you, you would have no way of knowing if they are ‘virtually monogamous.’
Are they exchanging messages with you one minute and then, a soon as you have logged off, are they are flitting on to their next online connection?
Another difficulty of 21st-century dating is that, unlike the face-to-face meetings of traditional dating, when you are relying on text communications there is always the potential for what you are saying to be misconstrued.
Any form of online communication, from mobile phone texts to emails, has the potential to be read the wrong way.
If you do not really know the character of the person you are connected with on the website, you can’t really adopt the same level of nuance in your chat.
There is the added factor of Internet dating bringing you in contact with foreign singles. Here there is the potential for entering a minefield of misunderstandings due to cultural differences.