Valentine’s Day is one of those times of the year where romantic relationships are front and center.
Re-runs of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Notebook” and “Love & Basketball” play through the screen the entire day.
Everyone feels pressure to spend the day with a romantic interest or partner.
But when you’re looking for that special someone, what is that process like?
With the pressures of casual sex, social media flexes, talking stages and trust issues, what does dating look like for Generation Z?
Gerald Williams is a senior psychology student at FAMU who is observant of the dating scene but wants to put himself out there more.
“When I think about dating, I’m thinking about taking people out and spending quality time,” Williams said. “A lot of high expectations come into play when it comes to dating and yall not even on that level yet.”
Courting partners is one of those things that come with those “high expectations” Williams mentioned.
According to Vocabulary.com, courtship is “a period in a romantic couple’s relationship when they are dating. Most partners go through a courtship before deciding to get married.”
But for our generation, courtship isn’t what we call it. It’s called “applying pressure.”
FAMU alumna Simone Sadler is a passionate, fire sign lover that goes after what she wants in a partner and makes it known.
“I’m very generous, especially if I’m courting you. Baby apply pressure. If I want you, you gon’ know,” Sadler said.
Gen Z may not find writing letters or throwing rocks at a girl’s window necessary anymore, but the basic foundation of showing a romantic interest that you want to pursue a relationship is there.
“Pressure is feeling invited, pressure is feeling appreciated,” Sadler added.
Dating in this generation is a lot more casual and moves a little slower than courtships seemed for previous generations.
Our generation isn’t quite old enough yet to provide marriage data, but with millennials right in front of us, we may be headed down the same path.
“A majority of Millennials are not currently married, marking a significant change from past generations. Only 44% of Millennials were married in 2019, compared with 53% of Gen Xers, 61% of Boomers and 81% of Silents at a comparable age,” according to Pew Research Center.
Annie Moore, another FAMU alumna, started dating in college. She views things from a more casual standpoint and allows dating to provide her with memorable experiences rather than commitment.
“It’s a lot less pressure because marriage isn’t as big of a deal,” Moore said. “When you’re on that road to marriage, you have to date with intention. But when you’re literally in your 20’s having fun, like our generation–you can date way more casually.”
While Moore isn’t placing all her eggs in one basket, she gave details on one of the best dates she’s ever been on.
Moore was “flewed out” to her romantic interest’s city at the time and created an exciting memory.
“I’m a foodie, so we did like this food and wine tour. And so we went to wineries in the area and a bunch of different restaurants had samplers to try. It was lit,” Moore said.
Quite a lavish date couldn’t go unnoticed without Moore recognizing that women today are in more control of the luxuries from “applying pressure.”
“Dating is a lot more female-driven. We get to set the tone of what we want our experience to be like and what we’ll decide to tolerate. It’s our game now,” Moore said.
But don’t get your hopes up. Moore and that partner didn’t last after.
“It didn’t work out because we weren’t in the same city, but it was still a great experience. It was an enjoyable experience, we kicked it…it was cool,” Moore said.
While Moore isn’t easily impressed and rightfully chooses to surround her 20’s with experiences, there are a few Gen Z’ers that keep dating a little old school.
Jazmin Mackey, a sophomore broadcast journalism student enjoys dating and likes to be courted in a more upbeat way.
“You know how a lot of people are casual with things? Growing up, if I had a boyfriend he would have to call my dad and be like ‘Hey, can I take Jazmin out tonight?’” Mackey said.
Mackey has been in two long-term relationships within the last few years and said she’s learned quite a bit about herself while making memories.
“Dating has been very prevalent in my life, very fun. It’s been a big learning experience lowkey. I’ve learned a lot about myself.”
Mackey’s best date experience came with a few epic fails and laughter. One of her romantic interest booked a small trip using Getaway.house.
“He surprised me with a whole little camping date. We tried cooking our food in there, but like it burned and we had the fire alarms going off. It was so embarrassing,” Mackey said.
The pair wanted to make smores, but their fire alarms had other plans.
“We couldn’t start a fire to save our lives. But all the fails were so funny and memorable and cute and I had never done something like that before,” Mackey added.
Instead of bringing flowers to someone’s door or planning a secret meet-up with notes, our generation kind of plays it safe. During the dating stage, it might be a challenge trying to figure out if you’re going to post your romantic interest and their gifts on social media.
Social media is a tool for validation, and no one wants to look like a fool on Valentine’s day. Even the person you’re dating or applying pressure to.
“The pressures of social media makes it seem like you have to have a hotel room, with gifts and balloons. That wasn’t in anyone’s head before. Dating back in the day seemed way less complex,” Mackey said.
But social media isn’t the only tricky element of dating in this generation. There are other trust issues like how much money you’re spending or if there’s someone else in the picture.
“In college it’s very easy to think, ‘Oh he’s talking to me and other girls.’ Guys know now, they have to apply pressure,” Mackey said.
Chris Choice, a senior computer information systems student believes that spending money on someone when dating them isn’t that big of a deal.
“If you like them, then it’s just money. You gone get it back.”
Through and through, Valentine’s Day can be an enjoyable day for everyone, especially those with a romantic partner to share it with.
Navigating courtships, dating and applying pressure is subjective and a concept that Gen Z gets to take a hold of now.