Redefining relationships: Moving beyond stereotypes and physical appearances

Times have changed and so have relationships. First quarantine separated people, then grief reconnected them. And liberation followed.
Image for representational purpose only.
Image for representational purpose only.

Times have changed and so have relationships. First quarantine separated people, then grief reconnected them. And liberation followed. The definition of modern love would be a pragmatic, clear-intentioned, financially prudent bonding unshackled by stereotypes. A glimpse into the anatomy of love, 2023.    

Cast Your Net Wide 

Tall, dark, handsome. Fair, slim, sexy. Bye-bye type-casting; it’s now time for open cast. Dates are losing the baggage of the perfect type, especially in terms of physical appearance, as people are moving away from set ideas and embracing different personalities. According to the popular dating app, Bumble, 38 percent of people are now more open to meeting those beyond their typical physical type and 28 percent are less concerned about dating the type of person that others expect; 63 percent of daters are looking for emotional maturity over physicality.

“We are conditioned to look for similar personality traits in our potential partners. This is the brain’s way of protecting us from disappointment later.  Conflict, however, can arise in the best of relationships, and love can blossom between diametrical opposites. One cannot generalise. Dating beyond your type, on the other hand, is a great learning experience that opens you up to new possibilities, making the relationship grow in a way you never thought was imaginable,” says Gurugram-based psychotherapist Roshni Sedana.

Soft is the New Tough

The reign of the alpha male is over, as toxic masculinity is challenged by emotional pliancy. Men are rejecting behavioural taboos and embracing vulnerability. Macho camouflage is out of fashion, as honesty in communication and candour in expressing feelings become the new hallmarks of a genuine date. “This emotional and behavioural autonomy represents seriousness of men about life in general, a huge part of which is authentically exploring emotions and intimacy. 

Also, given that we’ve all gone through a lot collectively in the recent past, most of us, especially the men today, have little bandwidth for casual, surface-level fun,” says Sedana. The need for stability has put emotionally open dating in top gear.

Distance no Dampener 
Perceived with scepticism yesterday, inevitable for many today. With the pandemic came long-distance dating, as many moved to their hometowns or turned digital nomads. Being in different cities though is no longer considered unmanageable; if at all, it has brought people closer as they embrace the idea of healthy spaces, while prioritising their own growth and freedom.

Another factor that has led to inter-city romances is what experts call ‘dating app burnout’, where youngsters are dissatisfied with the options available on apps and feel the need to look beyond their city. “People value real connections over physical proximity now. Shaken by the pandemic and uncertainties that fog our future, dependability and reliability are top-rated values. Therefore, given the choice between dating long-distance or not dating at all, people are more open to the former,” says Delhi-based life coach Sudhir, who goes by his first name.         

Dating Terms to Know

Besides making people sick, Covid-19 also made daters more honest about their dating expectations and intentions to avoid a mismatch of expectations later.

Whether you date or not based on how compatible your views are on climate change and other  environmental issues. 

When daters get real about money matters, handballing their way into setting financial boundaries, which translates as less expensive get-togethers due to the rising cost of living. 

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The New Indian Express