I want to focus on one point that really captured my attention during my anthropological adventure:Hanging Out vs. Dating
It may be less prevalent in the South, but apparently Hanging Out is replacing Dating. When I was single I loved being asked out because it meant the guy liked me more than he feared rejection. I thought that was awesomesauce (well, I thought that it was totally rad because it was 1988). Anyway, now it’s a text to say “mtg @ tylers L8R. CU there.” Seriously. I’ve had so many younger girls tell me that they don’t get asked out on dates, but rather texted to join a group setting where hookups may or may not occur.
I’ve heard the term “situationship” in song lyrics and jokes. It’s different than hanging out too. Basically it is something that is less than a traditional relationship. Some say it is the middle ground between Friends with Benefits and Exclusive Dating. Others say it is problematic by definition (e.g. a couple has great, um, chemistry but don’t really like each other), and therefore fated to fail. Laziness and low expectations? Lack of social skills? In real life as long as both people are content, I don’t care what it’s called and it’s none of my business. But, in books, not surprisingly the situationship is not . . . romantic.
I find that interesting because more than any other response, people tell me they read romance to escape: into a pleasant world, somewhere outside of themselves, somewhere without worries, where there will be a happy something at the end. And the situationship doesn’t provide that. Hanging out and hooking up doesn’t provide that.
By the way, there is even a Wiki on “how to date” with the appropriate links to “how to look attractive,” which I found mildly terrifying. Now, this isn’t a post about how everything was great in the old days, because I heard my parents and grandparents say basically the same things. Things evolve. I get it.
My point is that readers don’t lie. They like what they like. Trust them. New Adult books have happy endings that are not situationships. The happy endings are not the couple hanging out and hooking up. Real and complex relationships develop. There is love. So, it gives me hope that I can write this genre because, indeed, certain romantic notions seem to be ageless.
The next stop on my fledgling anthropology trip is a study of online dating sites. TrekPassion, ScientificMatch, CougarLife, FarmersOnly, Zoosk, Tinder. Should be interesting!