Have you ever felt like dating articles are a little too... generic? Is it hard to find one that reflects your experience unless you're specifically looking for it?
You're not alone.
Dating articles written about the US will always have some generalizations. The country is home to millions of people across thousands of square miles. There are different climates, cultures, backgrounds, histories, tensions, governments, and landscapes.
And that's without getting into different minority experiences. Despite the "minority" term, the majority of people in the US can check at least one "minority" box. Being part of a smaller group has an impact on your perspective. It shapes who you are as a person.
Sometimes it can be tiring to read article after article that seems to ignore that.
You'd need 328 million articles to capture the perspectives of and create advice for everyone in the US. Every single individual is unique. Not all advice or generalizations will be able to be applied unilaterally.
I've taken a look at some of the often-overlooked factors at play with varying minority experiences and the dating scene. Of course, this isn't comprehensive, and it is focused on the US. This isn't an end-all be-all guide - instead, it's a way to broaden your perspective.
Some of the groups taken into consideration include:
1. Traditional Dates May Not Be Accessible to Disabled People
Physical disability comes in many forms, and not everyone has the same limitations. Two people with the same diagnosis might have vastly different symptoms or energy levels. At the same time, people using the same mobility device might have completely different needs.
But there are a number of common ways in which traditional date plans may be inaccessible to disabled individuals. A few include:
Dates are supposed to be relaxed and enjoyable. Many traditional plans add unnecessary stress or pain for a disabled person, and they shouldn't have to "stick it out" just to adhere to someone else's ideal date.
There are tons of ways to create fun, special, memorable dates as a disabled person. They might not look like society's picturesque romance, but they'll be your picturesque romance.
2. People Over 50, Including Seniors, Need to Share Common Interests to Build a Foundation
Everyone needs common interests to build their relationships. That's where you start your conversations! That's how you enjoy each other's company! Through your mutual interests, you have the opportunity to become closer.
But for older people, striking out for new social groups is hard. It can be intimidating to find people who share your interests, especially if you feel like you're not "caught up on the times."
It's hard to put yourself out there and meet new people like you did when you were younger. But you can do the following things to meet new people who share your hobbies and interests:
3. International Long Distance Relationships Are Easier to Maintain Nowadays Thanks to Technology
How many times have you heard the old adage about how "long distance relationships never work"?
Maybe you've even been in a long distance relationship that didn't work out.
The logic is easy to follow - it's hard to spend time with people when you aren't in physical proximity. But with today's technology, that logic is also dated.
We don't have to send letters by sea anymore! Today's technology makes it possible to connect with people face-to-face even when they're on the other side of the globe.
Long distance couples often set up date nights where they watch movies or television shows while broadcasting video and chatting. Even couples who live close to each other sometimes do that if they can't get together physically on a particular night.
And the closeness doesn't end there. With phone apps like FaceTime, you can even talk to your significant other as you're doing errands like grocery shopping. Sure, it's not exactly like having them beside you in the aisle, but it can be a great balm for loneliness.
People have more ways to keep in touch today than ever before. In fact, there's a good chance that you talk to your international partner more than cohabitating spouses talked to each other thirty years ago! Not only can relationships be maintained over distance, they can also be strengthened.
4. Minorities in the US Military Face Unique Challenges When Dating
Military spouses are so well-known for making sacrifices that the term "military spouse" is often synonymous with "sacrificial." If you're in a committed relationship before you join the military, that will undergo some tests. But if you're single, dating becomes even more complicated after you enlist.
Some of the potential challenges that military couples face include:
Everyone in the US military faces these challenges. But it's worth noting that the percentage of minority groups in the ranks has increased in recent years.
Adding military commitments to existing potential stresses can make dating feel insurmountable.
But that's not the case. There are thousands upon thousands of military couples who thrive despite the challenges they face. In fact, many people say that those challenges make their relationship stronger.
5. Gay and Lesbian Couples Face Very Different Social Cultures Depending on Their Region of the US
It's no secret that some parts of the country are more accepting of gay relationships than others. Over the past few decades, gay rights throughout the entire country have advanced in leaps and bounds. But being in a gay or lesbian couple can come with very different life experiences depending on your location.
Most people have a rudimentary rule-of-thumb: the South and Midwest are less tolerant, while the North and West Coast tend to be much more progressive.
But the culture divide is more complex than that. Even within state borders, you'll find pockets of political differences.
For example, Georgia is known for being one of the most conservative states in the US. Rural Georgia residents are significantly more likely to be conservative. And yet Atlanta is one of the most Democrat-heavy cities in the entire country, and it has a unique LGBT subculture that thrives.
So you can't guarantee that you know what someone's experience is based on their state or geographical region.
The cultural differences do matter, though. In places like Atlanta, gay and lesbian couples don't face as much fear being seen in public. But in more conservative cultures, you might have to debate whether it's even safe to hold your partner's hand.
That means that some gay and lesbian couples are constantly evaluating the time they spend together in public. They pay attention to every touch, how close they stand, how affectionate they seem, and how many people are looking at them. It can have a profound effect on traditional date activities.
6. Cultural Christians Might Be Surprised by the Traditions of the Jewish and Muslim People They Date
Christianity is the most prevalent religion in the United States, so Christian dating is very popular. Even if you're not particularly religious, you're probably used to some "cultural Christianity." Most people celebrate Christmas like a secular holiday, and work schedules are coordinated around Christian holidays.
If you date a Jewish or Muslim person, you might be surprised by the different cultural elements. Jewish people have many holidays that commemorate survival, encourage reflection, and allow for celebration. Different holidays are observed in different ways - and not all of them are partying occasions.
A big thing to note is that some Jewish holidays are of greater cultural importance than others. You probably know about Hanukkah because it's celebrated close to Christmas. But did you know that Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday? Did you know that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the most important festivals annually?
In Islam, daily worship is more structured than in Christianity. Strict observers will pray five times daily at specific times, typically using a prayer mat that faces Mecca. Many Muslim countries have specific bells and breaks designated to observe these times.
In the US, staying true to Muslim practices can be difficult. So it's vital that you become aware of the practices and priorities of your Muslim partner to make sure you respect their traditions and faith.
7. Cultural Identity Is Important to Many People of Color in the US, Regardless of Their Ethnic Background
The United States has long been described as a "melting pot" for people from different cultural backgrounds. Today, nearly fifty percent of the population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority.
Cultural identity is a big deal. Many millennials are the children of first-generation immigrants. They've grown up with the culture of their parents and the culture of the US side by side.
Many Hispanic and Latino people describe their background as being "from two worlds." Language, culture, and tradition are all hugely important. There's a great deal of pride for many bilingual Latinos in being able to switch between English and Spanish.
For many people of color, their cultural heritage involves stories of suffering and survival. It's prevalent with the descendants of African-American slaves, and it's an ongoing narrative on Native American reservations.
A lot of online dating advice has an individualistic perspective. It encourages you to do whatever you want, whenever you want, whyever you want.
But that can be burdensome for people whose cultural traditions and heritage are part of identity.
You can date casually, build long-lasting relationships, and create the life you want without needing to sacrifice your culture. You don't need to choose whether to have "no attachments" or "be burdened forever."
Cultural heritage isn't a burden. It's an important part of you that ought to be celebrated, and any romantic partner worth the time will know that.
8. Interracial Couples Still Face Prejudice, with Many People Not Even Realizing They Hold Prejudiced Views
When psychologists measure bias in a person's perspective, they look for both explicit and implicit bias. Studies show that both kinds of bias are still strong in many people in the US.
Explicit bias refers to the conscious views a person holds. To measure explicit bias, psychologists ask questions like, "How do you feel about interracial couples?" Negative answers are considered explicit.
Implicit bias refers to subconscious views. It's measured by seeing whether it takes longer to associate positive words with interracial couples than with same-race ones. People may believe they have no biases but still have internalized prejudice.
In 2018, a psychological study showed the following:
The level of cultural bias can vary depending on where in the US you are. Cities with diverse neighborhoods are more likely to have openly accepted interracial couples. But some people report that certain rural areas still have high levels of tension.
Most people in the US know that interracial couples are just as valid as any other. Even if they don't, most people also know that bigotry is no longer socially acceptable. You're not likely to be refused tables or have trouble finding housing.
But if your experience feels different as part of an interracial couple, you should know that subconscious bias isn't a relic of the past.
9. Racial Tension Is a Very Real Stress Factor for Hispanic People, Black People, Native American People, and Asian People in the US
Unfortunately, as with subconscious bias against interracial couples, general racism isn't a thing of the past, either.
That's not to say that all of your date ideas need to include daunting thinkpieces about racism. For people of color, it can be exhausting to be constantly reminded of prejudice.
But some dating articles do fail to realize that different people have different experiences with public safety, social interactions, and important institutions.
Another reason it's important to acknowledge racism is because of minority stress. 'Minority stress' is a term used to describe stresses that minorities feel due to discrimination. The added stress load to daily life can become difficult to manage.
The more stressed you get, the harder it is to maintain your social relationships - whether romantic or platonic! And chronic stress has physical effects as well. It's harder to stay organized, focus on tasks, become motivated, and feel excited about life.
For people whose day-to-day stress makes planning dates difficult, low-key social plans are a great way to go. Some low-energy activity ideas include:
10. Young LGBTQ People Often Have Trouble Finding Serious Relationships Because They Didn't Get as Much Experience Dating in High School
For young adults in the LGBTQ community, dating can be a strange experience. Some places have bookstores and bars specifically built for the gay community, but spaces like that can be hard to find in more rural areas.
Online dating apps have changed the game in many ways. It's a lot easier these days to immediately find other interested people who live nearby and are compatible with you. People looking for the same thing, such as casual or serious relationships.
But that's not the only dating hurdle.
It's very common for LGBTQ young adults to have less experience with dating than their cisgender, heterosexual peers. High school tends to be a time of discovery, and many people choose to stay closeted. Even those who "come out" have a limited potential dating pool.
So when young adults emerge into the wide world of dating, they become overwhelmed by the enormity of it. It's also common to feel like everybody else knows what they're doing, but you don't.
A lot of dating articles assume you have prior experience. You're expected to know the social rules of relationships, how to recognize your feelings, and how to communicate them to other people. But if you haven't dated much, where do you begin?
Young people can benefit from more relaxed information about how to join communities and create social groups. That helps even more than romantic dating when it comes to navigating adult life.
11. Most People in the US Aren't in a Place of True Financial Stability, Even If They're Hardworking Upper Management Professionals
A few decades ago, financial stability was feasible for most people in the US. Living paycheck-to-paycheck would put you in the minority. These days, it turns out that paycheck-to-paycheck living is the majority - but a lot of people don't know that.
78 percent of workers in today's United States live paycheck-to-paycheck. If that doesn't blow your mind, think of it this way: Only about one in five people in the country is financially stable.
Traditional dating advice will point you toward people who have a stable life. They should have a steady income, savings, a career, a nice place to live, a car, and the ability to make frivolous life plans.
But your chances of finding someone who meets all this criteria is a lot lower today than it was thirty years ago.
The worst part of this advice is when it's treated as the end-all-be-all. If your potential partner isn't financially stable, that's a sign that they've failed as a person. Or so goes the wisdom. But that's just not true anymore.
Many people cohabitate with friends or romantic partners just so they can afford rent. Finances have a huge impact on couples. You should be able to be honest about money with romantic partners. Don't pay attention to the "poor person" stigma. It belongs to an economy of the past, and it simply doesn't work with today's reality.
12. Nerds Are the Most Popular Demographic in Today's Pop Culture, and There's Tons of Room for Minorities to Build Their Own Stories
Nerd love: it's when you connect with someone over the geekiest stuff possible. Both of you get super excited, and it's a burst of feel-good chemicals all around.
These days, "nerd" is no longer a niche demographic. In fact, some of the most popular media franchises of the past decades have been distinctly nerdy.
Think about it. A few of today's popular franchises include:
There are Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying podcasts with millions of listeners. Comic books from DC and Marvel are released to millions of readers. Sports just aren't as important to pop culture as they used to be.
In today's story-saturated world, it's possible for anyone to find media that they can see themselves in. And creatives are more encouraged than ever to produce diverse art that reflects their experiences.
What does that mean for dating? It means there's a gigantic range of diverse pop culture to explore in all sorts of nerdy genres. High fantasy, science fiction, humor, superheroes... the list goes on.
13. Transgender People Face More Challenges When Entering New Relationships or Social Circles, and Sometimes Dating Can Be Dangerous
When dating articles refer to the LGBTQ community, they're often talking about the gay and lesbian part. It's rarer for transgender people to be acknowledged. But the transgender experience impacts every aspect of socialization and dating.
For many trans people, dating comes with concerns about personal safety. There are decisions that have to be made about whether to be openly trans, whether to explain it to your partner, when to explain it to your partner, and how to prepare for a potential negative reaction.
Plenty of transgender people experience anxiety about dating because of this. Even platonic relationships can be difficult to pursue.
But plenty of transgender people also have found happy, healthy life partnerships and friendships. Though dating can be scary, it can also be rewarding. The world isn't hopeless, and love is out there for everyone. It just may take a while to find it.
14. An Ideal Relationship Includes Emotional Support - but Some Mental Health Conditions Can't Be Handled by Just One Non-Professional Partner
Most people will deal with a mental health disorder at some point in their lives. But some mental health issues are chronic and serious. They need to be treated professionally, and they can have a negative impact on both the individual and those surrounding them.
With any mental health challenge, the first advice is always to get a support network. Networks have to be made up of more than one individual. Your romantic partner can't provide one hundred percent of your emotional needs in any case, but especially when mental health is at stake.
These are some of the mental health conditions that require a strong emotional support network:
Mental illness interferes with your ability to regulate emotions and interpret information. You might not react rationally to situations, or you might become easily overwhelmed by simple tasks, or you might feel extremely stressed all the time, or you might struggle to find joy and motivation in life.
In a healthy relationship, your partner will know about these things and provide support where they can. But in healthy relationships, you also won't be completely dependent on your partner for emotional support.
What does that mean?
Basically, if your partner can't be there for you when you're having a rough time, you need other places to turn. If you depend entirely on them, the relationship will quickly become codependent and strained. The imbalance will cause tension, which just leads to more bad emotional feelings.
Some dating articles tell you to drop everything for your partner. Or worse, they say that a partner who won't drop everything doesn't care about you. That's simply not true.
The idea that you can't have a healthy, loving relationship while being mentally ill is absurd. But you will need to take more care with your interactions than neurotypical people do.
15. Polyamorous and Non-Monogamous Individuals Can Pursue a Variety of Non-Traditional Relationship Styles
What exactly is polyamory?
Polyamory is a style of relationship that includes more than two individuals. But the exact boundaries and specifications of the relationship vary from case to case. Just like with traditional couples, no two polyamorous dynamics are exactly alike.
People who practice polyamory adhere to the following principles:
To be a polyamorous arrangement, the involved parties need to discuss it honestly first. Like with monogamous relationships, poly relationships have rules and boundaries. That's what makes them different from cheating.
But from there, the setup of the dynamics is totally unlabeled.
These are just a few examples of polyamorous arrangements:
And relationship dynamics can expand to include far more than three individuals.
Dating advice is great, especially in this modern age when so much of our communication is digital. We want to use technology to meet other people, but we also don't want technology to impede the process of getting to know people. There's a lot to keep in mind when navigating relationships today.
But it is important to remember that the traditional dating model won't appeal or apply to everyone. And it's good to keep in mind that people may have different perspectives, worries, or priorities based on their life experiences.