What Every Man Needs To Know About Love In 2017
Illustration by Mr Patrick Leger
How do you navigate the landscape of love in 2017? It used to be easy. Eyes locked across a crowded room; phone numbers scribbled on napkins; long “no you hang up” conversations late into the night; flowers; date nights; chocolates; and with any luck, comfortable inertia eventually settling in. Job done. Happily ever after.
But when it comes to modern romance, the game has finally – fundamentally – changed. Ever since it became possible to harness geosynchronous satellite technology to arrange no-strings sex via your phone, something was going to have to give. And now it has. Today there is a laundry list of new pressures, pitfalls, etiquette and expectations that anyone looking for love must master. But what are they? And where did they come from? And how do you keep on top of them all? Well, just in time for Valentine’s Day, allow MR PORTER to explain.
Everyone’s on dating apps. If you actually meet someone “organically” – which is to say, in real life, without the use of the internet – it is considered a curiosity and, among committed Tinder/Bumble/whatever users, borderline creepy. But the thing to remember is that in 2017, every app is a dating app. Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. They’re all places where slow-burning sexual frissons fizz away and beautiful (or brief) relationships can blossom. There is a whole language for this: witness, for example, the “thirst trap”: those come-hither bikini selfies designed to snare “thirsty” suitors. Or the “DM slide”: the act of discreetly sliiiiiding into the Direct Message window in order to initiate flirtatious exchanges with a follower. These are the terms you must master. This is the world we live in.
In the past, no matter how dysfunctional your own love life, you could always look to the stars for reassuring examples of committed, loving, passionate relationships: Mr Richard Burton and Ms Elizabeth Taylor; Mr Humphrey Bogart and Ms Lauren Bacall. The Le Bons. But today? Today you can’t go three days without some high-profile “celebrity couple” mysteriously dissolving the minute their respective movies/albums/reality series have dropped. It’s disconcerting and, to romantic idealists, a little demoralising. I mean, if Mr Tom Hiddleston and Ms Taylor Swift or Mr Robert “R-Patz” Pattinson and Ms Kristen Stewart or Ms Jennifer Lopez and whoever it is this week can’t make it work, what chance is there for the rest of us? The solution, sadly, is to harden your heart and maybe read Sidebar of Shame a bit less.
This is an absolute minefield. But like all minefields, negotiating it can be quite exciting if you know what you’re doing. It is, in 2017, not considered unusual to send romantic interests suggestive textual or photographic content. But what do you send? And when? And to whom? As a rule of thumb, don’t send anything you wouldn’t say in person, don’t send photographs of any appendage that the intended recipient has not a) already seen and b) has explicitly stated they would like to see you again, and also bear in mind that the innocuous aubergine emoji is, apparently, rich with phallic implications. So now you know.
The complexity of modern love is... well... you probably know all about the complexity of modern love. We are simple creatures with simple needs who now lead frantic, transient lifestyles, forever looking for romance but at the same time, terrified to commit in case a better offer is just one right-swipe away. It’s a nightmare. But, on the plus side, it’s rich source material for a slew of TV shows from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend to Mr Judd Apatow’s Love and Mr Aziz Ansari’s Master Of None. See? Lots to watch on your own on a Saturday night.
The sting in the tail. You finally reach the end game and bend the knee but, whereas in days of yore, your proposal would be a private and highly personal moment for the two of you to cherish, now you need to think in terms of how viral you can make it. Never mind the ring, have you remembered the GoPro? Have you arranged a mariachi flashmob to suddenly appear and start playing “Gangnam Style” the moment she/he says “yes”, so that the two of you can then dance your way to the edge of a cliff before parascending into a pop-up wedding service officiated by Mr Tom Hardy’s dog. You haven't? Well you need to think about this stuff. Come on. It’s 2017.