July 19, 2019

Happily Ever After? 6 Things to Know About Love in the Digital Age

by Ellen Mallernee Barnes in News

Looking for love in all the wrong (online) places? You’re not alone.

To explore the difficulties of love, romance, sex and dating in the digital era, Havas Group fielded a survey in the first quarter of 2019 to roughly 17,400 people ages 13-plus in 37 countries, with a focus on Prosumers, the leading-edge influencers and market drivers whom Havas has been tracking for more than 15 years. The result of its findings: the Group’s newest Prosumer Report, “Love in the Digital Age.”

The biggest takeaway: Love has never been under so much pressure

Despite rising divorce rates in many parts of the world and a pervasive sense that the chances of living “happily ever after” with a romantic partner are slim, the vast majority of people still believe in the concept of eternal love and are committed to its pursuit.

This pressure to find forever love—whether applied by society, family, community or the individuals themselves—is turning the modern-day quest for love into an emotional rollercoaster. People are seeking something that is increasingly unattainable, unwilling to settle for less or to miss out on the romantic ideal conjured in storybooks and romantic films. And they are willing to go to ever-further extremes to achieve it, whether that means relying on artificial intelligence or using dating apps that incorporate DNA analysis.

Here are six core insights revealed by the global study:

1) Bigger playground, bigger problems

The internet and digital apps have dramatically expanded the pools of potential mates, but that hasn’t made finding “the one” any easier. In fact, nearly half of Prosumers think dating was simpler for previous generations.

2) Tinderella complex

The dating scene has become more complicated as so many participants are in it primarily for the “game” rather than the “goal.” Flirtation has become an end in itself, with people seeking to accumulate matches as a way to reassure themselves of their desirability. More than a third of Prosumers admit they’re more interested in receiving matches than in actually meeting potential partners.

3) Overestimating ourselves

Dating apps put users in the position of judging others—whether on looks, occupation, education, or something else—which can imbue them with an unearned sense of superiority. Nearly two-thirds of Prosumers say that such apps have made them more selective.

4) Exes popping up

Six in 10 Prosumers agree that digital has made it easier to end a relationship. There’s a flipside, though: Nearly half of Prosumers say that social media has made it all but impossible to put their previous relationships behind them.

5) The end of pheromones

Love is becoming more objectified and rationalized as people are increasingly willing to consign their love quests to data and technology. Apps, algorithms, and artificial intelligence are seen as a smart way to optimize one’s search. Going even further, more than a third of Prosumers would like to know the DNA profile of their partner before investing in a long-term relationship.

6) Love around the world

The journey to find love differs across cultures. The results of the study allowed us to segment participating countries into four broad categories: Passionates (e.g., France, Italy), for whom the journey of seduction and romance outweighs the destination; Traditionalists (e.g., India, Saudi Arabia), whose relationships center on family, religion, and deep-seated cultural roots; iLovers (e.g., China, Vietnam), who take a scientific approach to love; and Achievers (e.g., Germany, U.S.), who are focused less on passion than on the end goal of building and maintaining a sustainable family unit.

For more on the ups, downs and swipes of love in the digital age, download the full report here.