Dating Advice For The 21st Century

Medically reviewed by Karen Foster, LPC
Updated April 22, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

As online dating, various apps, and social media have risen in popularity, many of us have noticed changes in the dating landscape. In the 21st century, the ease of finding potential partners and the involvement of the internet can make dating both more accessible and more challenging. As you date, it can be important to prioritize healthy, effective communication and to be authentic, rather than trying to appear perfect. Remaining present and defining what commitment means to you and your partner can be helpful as well. For more personalized guidance regarding dating in the 21st century, working with an online therapist can be beneficial.

The rise of online dating

For many, the widespread use of cell phones and other digital devices has profoundly impacted how we meet, interact, and develop relationships. Online dating is not always intended for casual flings anymore; many users seek serious commitment through various platforms.

Online dating may also be becoming increasingly available to many users and age groups. In fact, research shows one in every three adults says they've tried a dating site or app. But has the rise of online dating changed how we think about relationships and courtship?

Matching algorithms may help people find compatible partners more quickly, but some traditional courtship processes often influence how people get to know one another. 

Dating and relationships in the 21st century aren't always easy

How mobile apps have changed the way we date

Mobile apps typically offer unparalleled levels of convenience when seeking potential matches. Many apps have even incorporated features like geolocation that allow users to find people nearby and connect in real-time.

Modern convenience has generally changed the nature of dating by offering the chance for almost immediate connection. Through internet dating, individuals can potentially meet and connect with a wider range of people than ever before. On many online dating platforms, people may feel more comfortable expressing themselves and exploring different types of relationships.

This level of flexibility has also created a new form of etiquette around dating in many cases. While establishing boundaries may still be relevant, the amount of time it takes to get to know someone can be much shorter due to the immediacy with which you can make a connection.

In a world where relationships often move at lightning speeds, it can be important to remember that you must still respect yourself and others when interacting with potential partners. Though the rules may have changed, the expectations and standards of behavior should generally remain the same.

Understanding the new norms of dating in the 21st century

The rules and dynamics of dating may have shifted drastically due to advancements in technology. While there may be many new opportunities for connection, you might keep in mind that it usually takes two people to form a successful relationship. Still, how that relationship evolves is normally up to those involved.

Hyper-casual dating may be becoming increasingly popular, with people engaging in short conversations before moving on to the next person. You may have heard of popular terms like "ghosting" or "benching" as well. As a new norm, some people simply disappear from a relationship without communicating why, or they may keep someone in their back pocket as an option while seeing other people.

Such behavior may be partly because there are so many potential matches out there. Many people don't feel the same pressure to commit to one person as they may have in the past. But knowing what you want from a relationship and communicating it clearly before committing to someone else can make a huge difference.

Getty / Maskot

Navigating commitment in modern relationships

These days, commitment can mean a lot of things to different people. Some may define commitment as marriage, while others may believe it's more about getting to know someone and building a lasting connection. Regardless of how someone defines commitment, a relationship usually takes time and effort to grow beyond the dating phase.

Honest conversations about your expectations and what the other person is looking for can help you decide if it's time to take things to the next level.

Are you both ready to move forward and make a commitment?

Here are some tips to consider when entering a modern relationship:

  • Let knowing each other be a priority. It can be important to discuss your interests, values, and beliefs to determine if you're compatible. While compatibility doesn't necessarily mean you have to agree on everything, you should normally respect each other's views and opinions.
  • Honesty and transparency matter. Honesty can open doors to increased intimacy and trust in relationships. Being transparent can mean being forthright with your thoughts and feelings, even if they aren't always easy to express.
  • Patience can be a game-changer. Love is often a marathon and not a sprint. By taking your time, you can explore different aspects of the relationship and decide if it's something you're both ready to pursue before committing.
  • Communication is often key. Good communication can go a long way toward a strong foundation in your relationship. Healthy communication often involves active listening, understanding where the other person is coming from, and respectfully expressing yourself.
Dating and relationships in the 21st century aren't always easy

Communication and connection in a digital society

The digital world may have enabled us to connect with people around the globe and find potential partners faster than ever before. But while technology can undoubtedly facilitate a connection, establishing intimate, honest, and respectful communication can still be beneficial.

In many ways, relationships may have become more complicated in the 21st century, with technology and social media frequently playing such a significant role. But that doesn't necessarily mean we can't find love — it may just require being open to the new rules of dating and understanding what works for each couple.

The way we communicate in today's world can be ever-evolving — and it may be up to us to navigate this landscape in a way that allows us to form meaningful connections. Gone may be the days of waiting for someone to call you on the phone. Instead, with the touch of a button, we can instantly connect with someone from anywhere in the world.

Texting, in particular, has typically become a preferred form of communication. While it can be convenient, it can also be misconstrued or misunderstood. It can be difficult to convey emotion or intent in a text message, so paying attention to the other person's cues and being mindful of how you speak to them is often important.

Social media has also become a big part of the dating scene for many people. It can be helpful to remember that what we display on our social media profiles is often an exaggerated version of our best selves, and reality isn't always what it appears to be on the surface. With endless likes and friends, it can be easy to compare yourself to others and become discouraged or even let jealousy and insecurity creep in.

No matter how you choose to connect, it can be important to remember that dating is usually a process of communication and understanding. Determining what works best for each person may take time, practice, and patience. Technology may have changed the way we date in the 21st century, but it doesn't have to change who you are.

What to keep in mind when dating in the 21st century

As you traverse the waters of modern dating and relationships, you may encounter a few bumps along the way. Here are some tips to help you stay afloat:

  • Remember that it's okay not to be perfect. We all tend to have flaws, and it can be important to accept our imperfections and embrace who we are. If you let insecurities and self-doubt set in, it can prevent you from forming meaningful connections.
  • Authenticity can be a breath of fresh air. Sometimes, we may try to be someone we're not to impress, but it can be essential to keep the real you at the forefront. Honesty and vulnerability can create a stronger connection than any act of perfection ever could.
  • Being present may help you to stay grounded. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new relationship, but a mindful presence can keep you from getting too carried away.

Consider seeking professional guidance

For those who need a little extra guidance on dating, online therapy can be a great resource. Working with a licensed online therapist can help you identify challenges and develop healthier habits for creating meaningful connections. This modern approach to therapy can offer a convenient and flexible way to get the help you need from the comfort of your home, at a time that fits your schedule.

As many as 17 randomized studies have found that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be more effective than in-person treatment for managing various issues. Improved patient satisfaction, quality of life, and clinical outcomes have all been reported with online CBT.


No matter how you choose to date in the 21st century, it can be beneficial to stay true to yourself and look for the kinds of meaningful connections you want and need. As our world becomes increasingly digital, the way we communicate and commit to relationships may continue to evolve. Online therapy can provide a safe space to work on yourself, expand your understanding of healthy relationships, and gain valuable skills to improve your future connections.
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