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Everything You Need to Know about Millennial Dating

Everything You Need to Know about Millennial Dating

Updated on Nov 21, 2022

Reviewed by Julianne Cantarella, MSW, LSW , Certified Relationship Coach

Millennial Dating - Stages, Patterns, Why is Dating Harder, & More

Wondering what the heck is millennial dating? Or, are you a millennial and need a bit of guidance in dating? Or, perhaps you’re dating a millennial and want to read them better? 

Well, whatever your identity is, if you recently started dating, congratulations… I’m glad you found someone special. 

But, if you met some inconvenience in your millennial dating, no worries! Because you’ve reached just the perfect place to clear your doubts. In my think-piece, I’ll share the basic must-knows to experience dating at its best form. 

Even if you haven’t started dating yet, I’ll guide you through this path! 

So, c’mon let’s approach a romantic experience together…

Stages of millennial dating

Whether you’re a millennial or not, the stages of millennial dating might be pretty confusing to both. Or, you can say dating itself is a confusing path.

You feel anxious about whether you’ll find the correct person and fight a battle constantly between your emotions and ego about confessing. But if you want to know exactly how you go from strangers to partners, here you go…

Stage 1: The precious meeting

You find someone attractive but hey, we all know looks aren’t everything. Though looks warrant the attraction, you can’t bet the entire dating decision on that.

Online dating is a possibility, but nobody said millennials can’t date a friend’s friend. Choosing a familiar face also helps them know their potential partner’s character a lot better.

Stage 2: The online research

When you meet new people that leave a good aftertaste, you can’t help but research them. After all, the current era is so focussed on sex that it’s hard to find love.

But when you do find a person of similar ethics and culture, you can’t help but dig in their past for research. Social media is the best place to conduct your mini-investigation for red flags.

You may look out for racism, sexism, ex-partners, flirtatious habits, or even poor music taste.

Stage 3: The texting test

Once this person passes your secret investigation, you head to texting for a quick compatibility check. You notice their interest in you through emojis and the tone of texts.

You even check if they put enough effort to get you and compare your personalities.

Stage 4: The butterflies

The texting phase smoothly glides in with a new chapter – getting butterflies. When you slowly warm up to their texts, you expect more messages.

You can’t wait for your crush’s replies. You eagerly look forward to their first text. When they don’t reply, you feel anxious. Secretly, you hope to meet them accidentally like in romantic flicks.

Stage 5: The interest alignment

But you can’t just stay in your fairy-tale bubble while texting either. Next up, you share about what you enjoy or how you pamper yourself. You discuss various ways to spend your leisurely time for the best.

You even show interest in their pastimes and invest a generous amount of time to understand and embrace their likes.

However, a lot of people ruin their chances when they excessively compromise their interests and don’t stay honest about themselves.

It’s even worse when you question someone’s interests with random absurd statements like “Oh wasn’t that your fav song, so why can’t you sing it for me?”

Stage 6: The First Date

If you hit it off well, you might feel ready to actually meet them face-to-face individually. If you still feel skeptical about their feelings, you might make it into a group date.

However, if you’re ready for some quality time, trust they have similar feelings, and they won’t decline it, you go for a one-on-one date.

Stage 7: The intimate talking

When the first date goes well, things gradually elevate. You shift from instant messages to phone calls and video calling. As the spark intensifies, you may feel lusty and even try sexting and hooking up.

You try to play it cool but you aren’t sure if you have a shot at romantic relationships… deep inside, you really wish that happens.

Stage 8: The big forced conference

When you develop intense feelings for your crush, you can’t stop blabbering about them. Every group chat and conference call become a chance for you to praise and brag about this person.

You drive everyone nuts about your hookup buddy and everyone’s aware of your feelings. You might even have a conference with your pets or plushies.

Stage 9: The doubt

While you talk about your crush a lot, you also notice serious questions. Whether you’re using this person as a replacement or rebound… whether you can handle a new relationship at the moment.

If you feel uncomfortable but try to find the answers to such questions and don’t brush it off, that’s a great sign. You’re serious about this relationship and your crush’s feelings.

Stage 10: The confusing in-between phase

While you were busy bragging about their virtues and contemplating important facts about yourself, you were fine with the texting-talking mix.

However, when you’re done pondering and there’s still no sign of progress, you spend some days as neither casual flings nor serious and exclusive partners.

You’re confused about your relationship statuses but don’t mention it. The reason? You don’t want to pressure the other person.

Stage 11: The impatience

Amidst the confusion, you allow your crush to make up their mind about you and check whether you can make it work. You hit up one another every day non-stop.

You ignore all other potential dates, yet they don’t notice or bring up the relationship labeling convo. You want to do it but don’t want to scare them off… it just gets more annoying by the minute.

Stage 12: The realization

This is when you realize maybe your crush is also thinking the same. But you’re not delusional to think they definitely do.

Rather, you just ponder on the possibility and feel that it wasn’t right to blame them.

You wonder throughout this phase how to bring up the topic without scaring them off.

Stage 13: The official call

At some point, either of you gives up all rationality about not spooking the other. Someone barges in like a wrecking ball of emotions and feelings and that defines the end of the uncomfortable period.

You both stop meeting people to seek potential partners and even get off the dating pool. You become a couple in real life and on social media.

Your relationship statuses change and you spam one another with cute couple pictures.

Stage 14: The honeymoon phase

After you start dating, the honeymoon phase follows. You feel excited about every moment you spend together.

You introduce one another to friends and family, become one another’s confidantes, and relish the relationship.

Stage 15: The mysterious stage

Soon the honeymoon phase wears off and you think “What’s next?” Do we stay together till we get married or will we eventually part ways?

Well, this stage is all about you two and your relationship. Nobody else can define it, so don’t overthink it and don’t let others predict your future.

Even if it doesn’t work out, make sure you nurture yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally.

Are you wondering how a millennial usually starts dating and what may happen while dating them? Well, let’s find it out here…

Millennial Dating patterns

If you’re not a millennial, you might be pretty confused about various millennial patterns and dating cultures.

What you might face while dating a millennial or what they desire or don’t desire in relationships, most of them follow certain patterns. So, how do millennials date?  You’ll know everything from these…

1. The dating apps

For meeting new people, millennials seek dating apps like Tinder, Happn, Bumble, etc. whether they want sex or a relationship.

They match with people online and either head straight to sex or take their time to hang out, have sex, and then comes the relationship.

2. Online personals

When the millennials are in the upper age limit, they seek online personals like Match and OkCupid for serious relationships.

People on these platforms prefer more traditional dates… but they’ll still call them hanging out. However, casual sex is still an option on these platforms.

3. Real-life connections

Though online dating is on the high rise, some millennials prefer traditional meeting and knowing. They might seek sexual and romantic connections within their friends and work circle.

4. Talking

Dating as a millennial isn’t always in person. You can hang out even while texting or calling. But this happens only when two people are interested in one another but aren’t ready to commit.

5. Having real dates

In older generations, they had fancy dinner dates with expensive wine and steak. But for the millennial generation, it’s always hanging out at a café, bar, arcade, or even investing time in your hobbies.

6. Hooking up

Without any commitment, millennials also have sexual exchanges like making out or even intercourse.

If a pair hooks up more than once, it doesn’t mean they’re serious, but there’s definitely sexual compatibility.

7. The communication fiasco

In the current era, dating and relationships are confusing because of varied ideologies, definitions, terms, and expectations.

You may want to communicate more but your date may not and it brews misunderstandings. 

8. Ghosting

The modern dating era also has this toxic act of ghosting.

If people can’t feel the spark, find someone better, or simply don’t wanna continue an arrangement, they ghost, i.e., completely cut off the connection to avoid the messy emotions of parting.

9. Gender biases

Though traditional dating needed men to take the lead about everything, millennial dating isn’t like that.

There’s no shame in women being forward to seek sex or hangouts. Millennial women don’t expect their partner to fall head over heels because she stripped for them

10. DTR

Aka Define the Relationship is the most important step in millennial dating. This calls for the moment of truth whether both parties feel the same or not… and what they want to be called as together.

It might conclude with you guys staying casual or beginning a serious relationship. You label your connection and your position in one another’s life.

11. Mutually exclusive

Millennials use the term “mutually exclusive” when a pair intends to not seek other potential dates. But this doesn’t imply the pair is in a serious commitment.

You might become mutually exclusive naturally or after having a DTR convo.

12. The huge leap: Official

When both sides show mutual interest in something more serious, they soon start going out exclusively. They begin with a casual approach and end with exclusivity and commitments quite fast.

When millennials choose to be in an exclusive and serious relationship, that’s called being official. This is usually the last step in beginning committed relationships.

They acknowledge one another as their partner publicly in reality and online. They’re called Facebook official “FBO” when they change their Facebook relationship status. 

If you’re wondering what baby boomers mean, you better check out this…

Millennial Dating vs Baby Boomers Dating

In case you’re a baby boomer and might date a millennial, vice versa, or you can’t decide whether to date a millennial or a baby boomer, you must know the differences in their behaviors and expectations.

You might not find enough clues from their age, but expectations can tell if you’re compatible. So, let’s get down to the compatibility test…

1. Breakups for millennials are less formal than boomers

Millennials’ breakup game is quite casual. Some even ghost and forget to consider others’ feelings. This hurts the dignity and self-esteem of the ghosted person.

This is more evident since the emergence of social media. Hiding behind a screen is an effective yet immature way to avoid uncomfortable situations.

For boomers, breakups are really serious and official without the legal stuff of course. They follow a respectful way to end things.

2. Millennials are social media dependent, boomers didn’t have the chance

Millennial relationships build on social media expectations. You’ll notice a new post from popular websites with the heading “Couple goals you must achieve in this era” and get swayed. You’ll feel that’s a must-have to make the relationship legit.

However, most boomers didn’t come across such articles. Their relationships depended more on their individual and mutual feelings, not random articles.

3. Millennial romance depends on dating apps. Boomers won’t like that

When it’s about relationships and dating, millennials will always download apps to find a compatible match. They depend on dating app bios and text emojis more than in-person dates.

Though dating apps allow you to find someone with matching interests, you might seriously miss out on some gems because their bio wasn’t as intriguing… which is really unfair for them.

Boomers, however, mostly met their partners through family and friends. They judged one another only after knowing them for real and gave everyone a fair chance.

4. Clean breaks were more prominent for boomers than millennials

Millennials can never have clean breaks because of social media. Unless they block their ex, the virtual connection will always show how their ex is better without them. This connection constantly reminds you of them and makes moving on harder.

Due to the absence of social media, boomers hardly heard how their exes fared after the breakup…. Unless they accidentally met them at the market.

5. Millennials’ life milestones changed after witnessing the boomers

Life milestones of boomers go in this order: marriage, buying a home and car, getting kids, and sometimes even divorce and asset division.

After witnessing that, millennials really don’t dare to follow the same path. Most millennials’ life milestones don’t include marriage.

Rather, studies from Urban Institute show millennial marriage rate might become 70% as opposed to the boomer marriage rate of 91%,

6. Millennials don’t like Boomers’ typical family unit

Boomers followed conjugal family units for more stability and normalcy. However, since the increasing divorce rates, families split and single-parent households became the new normal.

This shift still continues and is more prevalent among millennials.

7. Millennials no longer support boomers’ conventional relationships.

In the current era, ethical non-monogamy rose in popularity. Millennials are more into new types of romantic relationships like polyamory and open relationships.

On the flip side, boomers mainly followed monogamous relationships.

8. Millennials are more connected than boomers

Due to the rise in smartphones, the internet, and instant messaging apps, millennials have the opportunity to stay connected with their crush all day long.

However, it just increases the amount of confusion (yes, excess texts can lead to that… don’t deny it) and a drastic fall in anticipation.

Boomers, however, waited impatiently to talk on the telephone or they went days without talking because of a lack of resources like a landline or enough money to make calls.

9. All millennials aren’t comfortable with exclusive terms like boomers

When boomers wanted to make something official, they were more direct and the gesture was obvious. They may not show grand gestures, but there were tell-tale behavior and dynamics.

However, millennials may hang out with a single person only and behave like regular couples by kissing, holding hands, staying with one another, or even having sex… but they aren’t ready to “commit”.

They don’t want to label relationships as that’s too much emotional pressure.

10. Millennials, unlike boomers, call out toxicity

In modern dating culture, many toxic and abusive characteristics in relationships get highlighted.

Millennials are more aware of different manipulation techniques and they don’t stand it. Even if they can’t break free from it, they don’t turn a blind eye or stay oblivious about it.

Boomers, contrarily, even when aware of terrible behavior and relationship dynamics overlooked it and compromised with toxicity and manipulation like gaslighting and stonewalling.

Did you or another millennial say “dating is hard”? If you’re wondering what that means, you’ll find its roots here…

Why is dating harder for millennials?

You often whined as a millennial about dating or heard about other millennials’ online dating stories. Modern dating situations aren’t as cool as what baby boomers experienced. The expectations of the latest generation kind of baffle everybody.

Further, the mix of online dating and social media worsens the situation. If you’re wondering exactly how, let’s find out from here…

1. Ghosting is a norm

Millennials with the emergence of social media apps cut off connections when they lose interest. If it happens in person, people react more.

But many people think it’s safe to do so over texts because the other person can’t find them. But it’s not!

What to do instead?

If you want to ghost, that’s cowardly. So, let’s not waste our time, tell them what’s wrong, and move on.

If someone else ghosts you, tell them they’re being a coward and cut connections for good.

2. Sex is more important than connection

Millennials have easy access to sex. Even without enough emotions and attachment, they don’t mind undressing. But that’s okay… to each their own.

The real trouble begins when one person assumes sex is a sign of love and commitment. It only leads to heartbreak, confusion, and further wrong steps.

What to do instead?

Communicate your expectations honestly before hitting the hay with someone.

3. They compete to be “least bothered”

In this era, millennials frown upon giving efforts, caring, and expressing emotions. Emotions turn off partners and they leave for good.

What to do instead?

If you’re into serious relationships, know that emotions are important and cherish them. If you can’t be emotionally attached then label your relationship that way so nobody gets hurt.

If your partner doesn’t like being expressive but you do, don’t waste your time on them.  Life is too short to chase someone who won’t understand your viewpoint.

4. Their replies are too tactical

Some millennials choose to imitate their partner’s response. But it’s mostly the negative aspects like late replies or being indirect. This makes the relationship torture instead of bliss.

What to do instead?

You have the scope to communicate freely whenever you want through instant messaging. Use it wisely when you have time or you’ll seriously wreck your relationship.

If they do it, communicate with them about it.

5. They chase unreal perfectionism

Millennials feel entitled and still live in fairy tales. Some people want a flawless prince(ss) to make their hearts do backflips.

Whenever they find minute issues, they just can’t compromise. And usually, their picky nature leads to multiple broken relationships.

What to do instead?

Set apart your necessities and fantasies about a partner. Think hard about the negotiable facts and then begin dating.

6. They can’t handle the options

Millennials have too many options for dating apps and are always on the quest to find someone better and more compatible.

They never stop seeking even more from their dates like compatibility in family, status, interests, and so on. They can’t ever settle down because of this habit

What to do instead?

Focus on one person at a time and look forward to another person only when you make a clean break.

If someone treats you like this, communicate your expectations. If they can’t stay true to you, you deserve better.

7. They feel more comfortable alone

Millennials are awfully self-centered because that’s how they grew up in a selfish culture.

Or, they’re happy because of bad experiences due to association with wrong partners. This isn’t bad but it hinders dating.

What to do instead?

Take your space as that’s really healthy and relationships aren’t only about sacrifices. But if you can’t enjoy the things you always liked with them around, you’re with the wrong person.

8. They stay in the gray area too long

Millennials have zero ideas about their relationship status. They’re just too confused about their desires for one another. Some even lie to cover up the embarrassments.

What to do instead?

If you’re serious about one another, bare your bones and talk. Otherwise, you’ll only waste your time.

9. They don’t take responsibility for their actions

Millennials can’t understand that words make deep wounds. They hurt their partners and believe it’s not their responsibility.

If their partner is so sensitive, they gotta “man up” and the like. They can’t realize where they went wrong.

What to do instead?

Get over your ego and own up to your mistakes. Words are sharper than blades so be more sensitive when you speak.

If you receive such treatment, again… you deserve much better so break free.

10. Definition of commitment is blurred

Modern dating culture is so confusing that it’s hard to define commitment, trust, loyalty, and all the simple terms. Temporary and instant gratification is so much valued that it breaks down any faith in love and relationships.

What to do instead?

When you become exclusive and commit, define what you understand by “commitment” and ask them to follow suit.

11. They think uploading pictures online is love

Another issue in the current dating culture is believing what the media feeds them blindly. They check social media and see a romantic couple’s outfit and that’s their goal.

They gotta take similar pictures and post them online. They forget that their partner might be camera shy or just bad at posing.

What to do instead?

Focus on the reality and accept that most couples that post cute pictures online aren’t really as happy as they show. Stop following such unhealthy standards.

12. Past emotional baggage confuses them a lot

Most millennials have single parents or saw someone close’s breakup. They lost faith in love and marriage which leads to their trust issues and love for casual flings. They ruin their chance of beautiful relationships miserably.

What to do instead?

If you can’t get over your fear of abandonment or rejection due to past incidents, seek a mental health expert. Seek loved ones’ support and even share it with your partner.

13. Relationship goals and future is unclear

Back in the day, women frequently gave up on their dreams which led to relationship stability.

But this is the era of both partners chasing their goals. Clashing goals and future expectations may sabotage your dating and relationship scenes.

What to do instead?

Communicate your goals and future expectations seriously. Don’t give up because you don’t wanna settle in the same city. If you both are dedicated, you might soon work it out.

14. Attention issues are on the rise

A millennial might ask for excess attention like instant message replies. Or, they might be too absorbed in their phone and forget about their partner aka phubbing. These lead to various troubles in the long run.

What to do instead?

Talk about when you can or can’t reply instantly and try to be understanding of one another. When you’re together, make rules to spend screen-free together.

15. Social media jealousy is added trouble

Whether they have their partner’s social media credentials or just accidentally find their like or comment on a bikini babe or gym hunk’s picture, millennials don’t take long to misunderstand. Jealousy makes the relationship even more fragile.

What to do instead?

Avoid reading in between lines like that. If something doesn’t sit well, talk it out respectfully.

However, if you’re ready to date being a millennial, follow these for the best ever dating experience…

Millennial dating tips

Dating might be hard but don’t forgo it! It makes you feel happy and at peace when you date someone.

There are many benefits of dating so don’t give up just because millennial dating is much more demanding than you thought. C’mon, let’s don our best suits and get started…

1. Do your online research minutely

If you met your crush online, you don’t have much to know about them. So, make sure you check them out on social media platforms properly.

This will help you avoid getting catfished or hooked up with someone toxic.

2. Push sex down your priority list

For millennials, sex is one of the most basic things even without commitment. If you think sex makes you a real couple, erase that thought. Do it if you’re both sure you only want sex or you’re mutually in love.

3. Don’t rush into sexting

Never send nudes or dirty texts to your crush too fast in the process. You never know what they’ll do with them. You might be in serious trouble if you end things on a bad note or someone gets their hands on it.

4. Focus on balanced romance

Many millennials emphasize “date as much as you can now” and ignore the reason “to find out your deal breakers and red flags”.

The saying asks you to date without much expectation to learn your limits, but also be open to the possibility of love.

5. Don’t depend on others to be happy

Most millennials reach the shallow end of the dating pool fast. They unknowingly invest their feelings quickly, get hurt, and change for the worst.

Learn to be happy by yourself so that even if someone leaves you, you’ll be your support system.

6. Pull yourself apart from judgemental people

Being a millennial is hard because many people judge you for your choices. You don’t need that sorta negativity in your life.

If you’re happy with no-strings-attached arrangements, then that’s all you need. Others don’t have a say in it.

7. Boost your self-esteem

Due to the internet life, you frequently find out what others’ lives look like. You may naturally feel jealous and desire the same. This again impacts your self-esteem and instills self-doubt. Stop comparing your life and appreciate what you have. 

8. Don’t become a slave to technology

Let’s be honest, most millennials are so immersed in technology that it literally hurts their health.

Get yourself a digital detox and reduce your social media or technology intake. Use technology like you own it but not the reverse.

9. Don’t fake anything

Since people swipe left and right depending on the bio, many millennials feel an urge to lie and brag about things. You know that route will only lead you to a bad experience.

Why even sabotage yourself like that? Be as honest as you can and rather play with the outline of your dating profile.

10. Keep your judgmental thoughts in check

While you skim through various dating profiles, make sure you don’t judge too hard. Read into their bio and honestly notice what’s common. If you swipe right only based on their photos or fancy terms, that’ll bite you back later.

11. Don’t stop flirting

This is the era with lots of fun apps. When you find a suitable catch online, invite them over to another app and flirt around with the app perks. Add them to your social media and know one another one step deeper.

12. Confess first if you feel it

If you feel a connection, never wait for them to make the first move. If they don’t have similar feelings, you might waste your time and your emotions.

Let go of your pride and tell them how you feel. Things will work out whether you confess first or they do.

13. Communicate your needs properly

When you match with someone, just share your expectations. Don’t beat around the bush as that only wastes everyone’s time, including yours.

Whether it’s about sex, emotions, commitment, time, or anything else, push it towards them.

14. Turn your back on the undeserving

If anyone scoffs at you for catching feelings, cheats on you, doesn’t respect you, or do anything that you can’t accept and is immoral, leave them.

If they decide to ghost on you, let the ghost vanish… know that they were worth nothing.

15. Focus on fun

Dating is hard and confusing, so I won’t judge you if you sometimes feel like quitting on dates. However, it’s different for everyone and you’ll slowly find one soon.

So, don’t dwell on the bitter experiences and look forward to fun encounters. If it doesn’t work out, you may make a great friend.

However, you may not face as much trouble in millennial dating culture because it improved through the pandemic. If you’re curious, let’s head right in…

How pandemic changed millennial dating?

Due to the pandemic, millennials learned to understand the necessity of quality dating and differentiate their needs and wants in potential dates. They also became more confident and accepting of more than superficial aspects.

Since the pandemic lockdown, single millennials stuck in their apartments started feeling lonely and depressed. Those that usually got ghosted and quietly accepted it wasn’t up for it anymore. They needed real emotional connection and honest communication.

Many dating apps like Wingman and Matchmakers noticed a high surge in their clients.

However, people’s needs changed and they no longer desired flashy and superficial potential dates. They understood that dating and relationships don’t just depend on looks, job titles, age, etc.

They began to look at humans for their worth and not what they show off. Many millennials admitted that the pandemic changed their outlook on their potential partner and many are already dating someone they never thought of.

Millennials also have issues with long-distance relationships, but a lot disclosed that they don’t mind the distance so long as the quality of the match is great.

Some even realized that they don’t want that comfort in their solitude. Rather they seek “someone they’ll have fun with when they stay together during quarantine”.

Young singles learned to become more confident, identified their needs, and became thoughtfully selective about dating.

A word from ThePleasantRelationship

Whether you’re a millennial or not, falling in love can make you feel butterflies and give you the chills. It might be scary or amazing… but remember it’s not because of millennial dating. The roots lie in the type of people you come across and attract. 

Dating might always remain a trial-and-error game for the rest of eternity… but that mustn’t stop you from enjoying this wonderful experience.

Rather, focus on what you wanna achieve from dating. Learn to respect yourself and the other person. Identify who’s worth your attention and create your boundaries while dating.

Dating helps you learn about your ideal relationship and you might even find your Mr/Ms. Right soon, so love fearlessly.

Are you interested to know more about ‘Unofficially Dating’ then click here?