Navigate the world of dating and unravel the stages that defines the development of a romantic relationship.

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With the rise of new technology, how do youths meet that special someone?

When Lionel Chang, 19, asked his current girlfriend to become “official”, they had already held hands and exchanged sweet nothings. Now, this might seem a little scandalous… but they were already dating after all.

So what’s ‘dating’ in today’s social media rampant age?

The question seems straightforward enough, but the answer might not be as such. Youth today go through multiple stages before progressing into a stable, long-term relationship. Here are the 4 layers:

  1. Texting

The first stage, “talking”, is a time where interaction remains online – the modern-day equivalent of passing notes in class.

“We had to text for a week before we affirmed the mutual attraction,” said Elnathan Heng, 19.

Click here to know some Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to texting your crush.

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Talking to your crush can be nerve wrecking at first but as you get closer the barriers slowly start to come down

  1. Hanging Out

Next comes physical interaction – “hanging out” or “seeing each other”. The millennials have also seen the popularity of group dating: not a group date, but having a group of friends tag along. Through this, youths have been able to move away from traditional, 2-person dating that “implies deep emotional intimacy to them”.

“Group dating is good for new relationships, when you still don’t know each other well enough and you are not comfortable with each other,” said Ms Suki Tong-Berman, 51, a lecturer at Ngee Ann Polytechnic who teaches Understanding Relationships.

  1. Dating

Dating only comes after youths have successfully maneuvered the previous 2 awkward stages. Findings by the Journal of Primary Prevention in America show just how confusing dating can be for adolescents.

Research from to the University of California shows that each generation has developed a new form of dating to add to the relationship spectrum and the main contribution of the twenty-first century is the hook-up.

Here is a glimpse at how people used to date in the past:

In the 1949s, it was all about how to observe proper telephone etiquette when setting up a date :

In the 80s people also embraced new technology like videotapes to get dates. This was their version of Tinder [a popular dating app].

“Youths today don’t mind having sex even if they don’t see a future [together],” says Mdm Giaw Yin Yin, 74, a retiree and former social worker. “It’s a lot more casual than in my era, when we took a long time before getting to that stage.”

Mrs Yeo Lay Keng, 47, a business owner and mother of two, said, “Now, dating is more for fun and companionship and not so much about finding a lifelong partner.”

  1. It’s Official!

Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t changed is the stage of ‘going steady’. This is a mutual decision to be in a committed, long-term relationship.

Researchers from the University of California say technology has played a tremendous role in causing youths to desire more stages prior to serious dating. Traditional courtship – picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date – requires courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego.

Now that texting, online dating, social media and other forms of asynchronous communication are available, it removes the need for charm; some see it more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a bite. However, youth today remain hopeful.

“Online dating doesn’t make it more casual. Instead, it makes it easier to find other ways to date,” said Lim Mingming, 19.

Ultimately, then and now, it is irrefutable that the universal key to maintaining a healthy relationship is good communication – and who knows, with the dragged out layers of courtship, it might breed some time for that.

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Technology has evolved but love still remains the same

What is the future of love in the digital age? Could it become more virtual in the future as we continue to push on to the digital age? Check out this video from VICE as it dives deep into the world of digital love.