With the rise of online dating and dating apps, it seems that we are entering a new era of romance. The dating landscape now seems entirely different to what it was only a handful of years ago - but how much have things really changed, and is romance really - as many have claimed - dead?
Recently, TV presenter and historian Dr Lucy Worsley argued that dating apps are killing the art of romance, with everything now too easy for today's singletons. There have been plenty of criticisms levelled at the way we now come across and meet new love interests, but many miss the idea that dating apps are often merely reacting to a change in attitude across the dating sphere, rather than creating it.
Romance isn't dead. It still exists, but in new forms, and there are simply new ways of getting there. A drawn out flirtation may no longer be on the cards for many singletons who now meet online or through apps, but these platforms are simply another way of facilitating the arena where real romance can blossom: dates and the unfolding of a relationship.
The 'hook-up culture' that is so often blamed on dating apps isn't created by them - if it exists, it is created by a change in our attitudes more generally. We are more liberal in our thinking, and our use of any means of finding a partner reflects this, rather than the other way around. Such a transition has been going on for many years, not just since the take-off of online dating.
And of course, while many would like to find something casual, plenty of those using dating apps are looking for more meaningful connections - and they're finding them. Whatever singletons are looking for these days, shouldn't we be celebrating the fact that they have the choice?
The landscape today is under fire for enabling a higher number of potential suitors that can easily be connected with, with many arguing that dating apps are making us more fussy or impossible to satisfy - we are now apparently perfectionists when it comes to finding a partner. But surely more choice is not a bad thing - it is encouraging that single men and women aren't settling for a partner that doesn't make them as happy as they deserve to be. There is no perfect relationship, but with the divorce rate in the UK at 42%, perhaps we should embrace the idea that this new wave of daters aren't 'making do' due to lack of choice, or for fear that there isn't someone fantastic out there for them.
In this way, perhaps we are actually becoming more romantic and more optimistic in our outlook towards finding the one we can truly connect with, also acknowledging the fact that romance is not necessarily linked to the idea of a unique soulmate any longer.
More than anything, mobile apps are opening doors and breaking down barriers far and wide: whether it's offering immediate access to information, the ability to communicate and share moments with our family and friends instantly, or the option to plan and book any travel ahead of time... for digital natives in particular, the possibilities are endless and are shaping our perception and our way of relating to time and space. The new codes of mobility (having access 'here' and 'now') have triggered changes in all fields - and the dating space is no exception.
In a world where time and space are more and more optimized, where our social habits are increasingly relying on technology as a helpful medium, the development of mobile dating services are a natural evolution. These platforms facilitate interactions for busy professionals, widen the field of possibilities for people who are new to a city, not to forget those of us that aren't confident daters. The ability to connect with someone who we already know likes us back, in a secure environment, helps out those of us that are shy, or busy, or unaware, or who simply don't want to look creepy by approaching a stranger in the street.
Dating apps are helping to shape the dating landscape, but much is founded on our own societal changes and the liberalisation of attitudes. The connections and relationships we create with others, whether meeting through mutual friends, in a bar or online, are ours to choose, and it is exciting that singletons are seizing their chance to discover whatever it is that they are looking for.