Posted On Sep 12, 2016
Navigating the New Rules of Millennial Mingling
I have this friend; let’s call him Joe Gen X. Like me, he’s a normal 39-year-old guy with two kids. Unlike me, he went through a rough divorce last year and is dipping his toe back in the dating world—a scene he hasn’t visited in over 15 years. Now, it’s certainly no surprise when he tells me that things have changed out in the playing field (sorry, buddy, Myspace isn’t going to help you much these days). Still, as a newly single dude ready to mingle, some of the discoveries that even an open-minded individual like him has reported are nothing short of shocking to both of us. Apparently, the allure of love, sex, and marriage aren’t the only dating delights on the menu these days. There’s a whole new think-outside-the-dinner-date roster of modern romancing rigors that make the seemingly open-minded ideals of the sexual revolution appear as the old-timey simple days of yore. Most of them, as it turned out, were not really up Joe Gen X’s alley, but his discovery raised an interesting point: With decades of lovemaking in our back pockets, is there a legit need for us to relearn how to simply love each other? Let’s take a closer look at the current criteria for coupling and find out.
Hug It Out
“I can’t believe it,” Joe Gen X lamented. “The Sixties and Seventies were all about free love. The Nineties were internet hook-up city. Now, people just want to hug?”
Indeed, the past decade has seen the growth in popularity of nonsexual embracing en masse, a.k.a. “cuddle parties.” Reid Mihalko and Marcia Baczynski, two self-ordained relationship coaches in New York City, kick started the original Cuddle Party craze in 2004 (for more info, their official website is Cuddleparty.com), and workshops and large gatherings have dotted the landscape nationwide ever since. The concept is for attendees to explore the power of touch, communication, boundaries, and affection… all without sex. There was even an app for a hot minute called Cuddlr that launched during fall 2014 (and is now back and rebranded as Spoonr ) in the wake of the craze. Spoonr allows subscribers to find like-minded huggers in the vicinity in order to feel the seemingly platonic physical support and closeness of another human being, no strings attached.
Shy? Uncomfortable being yourself right off the bat? Then perhaps cosplay is the dating ritual for you. Beyond Mr. Fix It role-playing or Naughty Nurse fantasies, cosplayers (which is a combo of the words “costume” and “play”) are passionate, devoted fans of sci-fi, Japanese anime, or other categories of fantasy entertainment who dress up like their favorite characters and intermingle at conventions or other social events.
“I decided to check out all of the different websites that people use to date, hook-up, whatever,” Joe Gen X said. “I decided to goof off a little on one and wrote that I looked like Chris Evans; you know, the guy who plays Captain America. Within a day, I had over 40 responses from cosplayers. Not real names, but their characters… everyone from Wonder Woman to the Black Widow, all wanting to explore the possibility of fantasy role-play.”
Sex fantasies tied to cosplay seem to be the genre’s dirty little secret. While many passionate cosplayers insist that their hobby is fueled by G-rated creativity, a quick Google search shows plenty of cosplay-related pornography, illicit fan fiction, and discussion of group sex events tied to this fantasy world, demonstrating, perhaps, that for some, real life has become so harsh that people are more turned on by fantasy than reality.
The Millennial Sexual Revolution
Interestingly enough, none of these tales of new-age fantasies and fetishes seemed to shake Joe Gen X as much as his revelation about today’s relationship standards. As a naturally youthful-looking gentleman, Joe’s initial dating regimen invariably included dates with several women who were much younger than he, more than 10 years in some instances, in fact. With these smart, vibrant, sexy millennials, my newly single buddy was in heaven—until he slowly discovered what they were truly after.
“They all had boyfriends,” a sullen Joe Gen X told me. “One of them had three, yet they all wanted more. The whole idea of a relationship has changed. Now, it’s like assembling a fantasy football team. They all want to build a great roster.”
From open relationships to voyeurism to regular threesomes, many young adults have simply given up on monogamy in favor of freedom and following their natural, undisciplined sexual urges.
“I don’t blame them one bit,” he said. “It sounds so unrestricted and freeing in theory, but I’m too set in my ways to be that open. I haven’t been with more than one woman at a time in almost 20 years. I’m just not interested in starting now.”
The Great Art of the Date
It’s been six months since he started dating again, and I’ve got to give Joe Gen X credit. Despite all of the dead ends, disappointments, frustrations, and the surprise learning curves, he remains positive and excited for his romantic future.
“Has it been an eye-opening time for me? Absolutely,” he said. “But you know what? Let Superman and Wonder Woman have sex in a make-believe Fortress of Solitude. Let the huggers do their thing, and let the kids date or screw however many people they want. I’m a grown man, and I know what I need from life: some fun, some sex, and eventually, one woman to share those things with.”
“It’s funny,” he mused. “After my marriage ended, I thought I’d never be able to figure out what I wanted. Turns out, it’s the same thing I wanted 15 years ago—but because I’m older and wiser, now I get to do it right.”