Are dating apps killing long-term relationships?

Because users instinctively react to photographs, they’re choosing dates or matches based on sexual attraction and airbrushed beauty. (Studies also show that users will misrepresent themselves on their online profiles.)

So sure, there might be an initial physical spark. But what about the things that ensure a long-term relationship, like trust, constructive communication and enjoying joint activities?

Tired romance

The fundamental problem with modern Western coupling is the ideal that romantic love culminates in marriage – and will last forever.

This ignores the fact that romantic passion dissolves over time. Nietzsche likened it to an engraving that fades when bare fingers continually touch it. Lovers tire of each other. Habits weigh them down. Love’s passion and beauty atrophy.

Research about how long romance lasts tends to vary. But most arrive at the same conclusion: it doesn’t last forever.

A group of Italian scientists found that neuropeptides – molecules associated with the euphoria of love – returned to normal levels within 12 to 24 months of being in a romantic relationship. Another group of neurobiologists found that levels of hormones such as cortisol change upon falling in love and return to normal levels after 12 to 18 months. Other researchers found that people in a relationship for 28.8 months on average appeared less intensely in love than those who had been in love for 7.4 months.

On the other hand, in 2009, researchers at Stony Brook University conducted a meta-analysis of 25 studies of romantic lovers who were college age or older. They suggested that as long as we don’t include the obsessiveness of the early phases of romantic love in our definition of it, then long-term romance may be possible.

Whatever the lucky number, the reality is that over one-third of marriages do not make it to a 25-year silver anniversary. And even without the work of social scientists at hand, Nietzsche understood that, in many cases, romantic passion fades. As a solution, he suggested banning marriage for a couple in the initial throes of romantic passion.

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