How Gen Z destroyed flirting: This is how young people try to score a date today



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Liking an Instagram Story or sliding into someone’s DMs are ways to express romantic interest in the digital age, but technology may actually have made it harder for singles trying to score a date.

Gen Zers especially struggle to master the art of flirting in an era of social media and dating apps.

“I think flirting is dying,” Los Angeles resident Nikki Sanjongco, 24, told NBC News. “If someone thinks you’re cute, they just ask for your Instagram these days and then DM you or swipe up on your story to show they’re interested.”

The state of dating today has been described as exhausting, as women online lament the nightmarish difficulties of trying to find a man.

They complain that many men are “bad texters,” and also have abysmal pick-up lines.

Meeting up with someone in real life can be daunting for Zoomers. Bliss – stock.adobe.com

A 2022 article from The Times highlighted some of the cringe-worthy methods of flirtation used by men online, such as this one-liner: “The only thing I want to strip off is your mind so I could caress your every thought and make love to your notions and perceptions.”

In fact, it’s so dreadful that entire Instagram pages are now dedicated to sharing some of the most pathetic attempts to flirt via text.

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It’s a peculiar conundrum, “flirt coach” Benjamin Camras said, that has yielded a “love-hate relationship” with dating apps because people want to delete them, but also “feel like we have to be on them.”

“Like, how else am I supposed to meet people?” said 38-year-old Camras, who said the act of flirting should “be ultimately fun,” not scary.

“You won’t get over it until you just keep doing it,” Williams said. “The more you do it, the less scary it is.” Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com

And while platforms like Hinge and Bumble allow singles to put their best selves forward, that “highlight reel” they present isn’t necessarily a true representation of themselves and can lead to a disconnect when meeting in-person, he added.

“When it feels like a performance, when it feels like you’re trying to get someone to like you or see you in a certain way or you’re looking for that external validation or for that approval, you’re completely out of the flirt at that point,” he said.

Zoomers especially have developed intense social anxiety around communicating with others in real life, and dating is no different.

Some are even scared to make phone calls, so flirting in real life can feel especially daunting.

Receiving a “like” or matching with another person on a dating app shows that the person is undoubtably interested in you.

But when flirting with someone in real life, there’s no giveaway for “guaranteed interest,” Sanjongco said, recalling a time she didn’t realize her interest was reciprocated until the guy she was attempting to flirt with asked for her Instagram handle.

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“Our generation has been so online that when it comes to talking to people, it’s a bit scary,” said Williams. Svitlana – stock.adobe.com

“Our generation has been so online that when it comes to talking to people, it’s a bit scary,” Maxine Williams, the founder of the singles event organization We Met IRL, told NBC. “There’s not that natural sense of like, just, ‘Hey, how you doing?’”

Williams also, in part, blamed the pandemic for Gen Z’s lack of people skills. At the time, many young people were forced to attend class on Zoom and were not given the chance to make connections in-person.

While Zoomers may be hesitant to put themselves out there, Williams says practice makes perfect.

In fact, she’s noticed an uptick in young people forcing themselves out of their comfort zones, and at the events she hosts, they seem “more open to go into events alone.”

“You won’t get over it until you just keep doing it,” she said. “The more you do it, the less scary it is.”





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