Page Turners: Modern Romance

Since going back to school, I’ve found that reading for fun has become challenging, to say the least. I recently got an Audible subscription and life has changed now that I can listen to books in the car during my commute. If you have any sort of commute or a long drive in your future, I would highly suggest it.

One of the first audiobooks I listened to was Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. I decided to give Modern Romance a read/listen after my good friend Patrick suggested it (P.S. He followed some of the advice in the book and is now happily in a relationship of a year so…)As a huge Parks and Recreation fan, I was excited to hear/read what the genius behind Tom Haverford had to say about love and dating in the 21st century.

I’ll be the first to say I’ve spent the last few years dodging dating. Between working, traveling, going back to school, and actively focusing on my friendships (a blog post on that later), I’ve developed a level of independence and aloneness that I’ve really grown to cherish. So much that I wasn’t sure I was ready to think about sharing my time, attention, food, or Netflix nights with someone else. Was I making excuses? Probably. 

Along with giving me the lifestyle mantra of ‘Treat Yo Self”, I can now confidently say that Aziz Ansari has once again changed my perspective on the world. This time it was less about self-care and more about dating and romance. Here’s what I loved about it, what I learned, and why you should pick up a copy.  

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As a researcher and author, its not easy finding the balance between telling a compelling story or sharing a thought that is backed by research. Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg (co-author), and their research team knocked this out of the park. He took observable phenomena that I’ve witnessed, as well as many others I know, and found the data to back it up. Why can’t someone just text me back? Why do we insist on asking someone if they want to ambiguously hang out? It validated so many of my feelings about being a young single person and why I’ve been anti-dating for so many years.

Beyond the fact that the book is research-based, it’s hilarious. If you love Aziz’s standup, his role in Parks and Rec, or his Netflix series, Master of None, then you’ll love this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the audiobook because Aziz is the narrator, but I’ve also picked up a copy and it’s just as entertaining. 

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Modern Romance spends a considerable amount of time talking about how social media, dating apps, and online dating have changed the ways people meet, connect, and form relationships. I came to a conclusion: Dating apps and online dating just aren’t for me. Truthfully, I've tried most of the dating apps and they haven’t lasted more than a few weeks. It's nothing against the people dating online, more so how I prefer to meet and get to know someone. Modern Romance spoke to how some people use dating apps successfully. I am not one of those people. I have multiple friends who have met their significant other, fiancé, or spouse online and I’m so happy my friends found their person. Modern Romance helped me better understand why that’s probably not the case for me and why that’s okay.

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Aziz lays it out pretty simply: If you want to spend time with someone, just ask them. Don’t dance around it. Don’t play games. This seems like a bold move because texting gives us shield in the vulnerable game of seeing if someone is interested enough to spend time with you. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone says no and you continue on with your regularly scheduled programming of a night on the couch bingeing Stranger Things. Sure, that can be a ding to the ego. Best case? They say yes. It also reframed the stereotypical first date recipe of meeting at a restaurant, playing 20 questions until you’re bored, and then guessing who is going to break the ice three days later. In our swipe-happy modern dating culture, it’s become all too “lather, rinse, repeat.”  This may be my love language of quality time speaking, but I don’t just want to ambiguously “hang out." I want to go make a memory, whether that is at a concert, doing outdoor activities, or attending a community or sports event. Modern Romance helped realize it’s okay to be bold ask that person out and doing something different can lead to a unique way to get to know someone. Yes, it seems scary but the payoff could be something great.

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This book absolutely challenges many of the common notion about dating and relationships. Whether you’re single, just starting a relationship, or very committed for a while, you’ll learn something about love from this book. It covers so many topics within dating and relationships (i.e. how dating has evolved, how relationships form and end, the role of technology and social media, dating trends around the world), it’s almost impossible not to learn something and think differently about relationships in today’s society. You'll have at least one light bulb moment. For me, I spent time reflecting on what I’m looking for and my preferences in how I go about dating.

Aziz Ansari is hilarious and I’ve been plotting how to make him my new best friend and life coach since I finished this book. The way he frames topics and research had me actually LOLing, in real life, alone in my car. This book is getting a lesson in love from a comedian, but a comedian that did mad research to prove the point. My favorite kind of learning is associated with fun and Modern Romance does just that.

Do you have a suggestion for my next book? Send it my way!