How Is Cancel Culture Affecting Your Dating Life?

If you've read the news at any point over the last several years, you're likely already familiar with cancel culture — and no, it has nothing to do with canceling plans to stay home. According to Merriam-Webster, cancel culture is "the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling [...] as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure." It might involve boycotting a particular artist's work or refusing to buy from a controversial company. Celebrities like Kanye West and brands like Pepsi have been on the receiving end of cancel culture, but even as it's become a common practice, not everyone agrees it's a good idea. In a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, over one in three people said they saw public canceling as a form of unfair punishment.

However, cancel culture doesn't always play out in the public eye, and sometimes, it doesn't even involve anyone famous. That's the case with dating and intimate relationships, which aren't immune to the shut-it-down mentality of cancel culture. A survey by Indian dating app QuackQuack via ZeeNews revealed that many daters believe cancel culture has influenced romance, with 33% of 28 to 32-year-olds saying they're unhappy with this shift. But is canceling a partner really so bad, or is it okay to put them in their place?

Cancel culture in dating can hold people accountable

Some respondents in the QuackQuack survey via ZeeNews disagreed that cancel culture had a negative impact on their love lives. In fact, respondents between the ages of 20 and 26 located specifically in large, developed cities were particularly likely to say they felt that cancel culture held people accountable and encouraged them to reflect before deciding how to behave.

As Dr. Rob Henderson, writer and psychologist, writes in Psychology Today, canceling someone — whether a famous actor or a bad Bumble date — is a social activity. Cancel culture can bring people together, which can be especially comforting in the sometimes harsh world of modern dating. Just look to cancel culture-adjacent "Are we dating the same guy?" groups on Facebook, which allow women to privately commiserate over the men they're dating while also outing any guys who might be unfaithful or otherwise toxic.

In some ways, cancel culture may help scorned daters gain back some power when they feel they've been wronged. And unlike canceling that happens with well-known figures, it doesn't have to involve petitions or social media shaming. Instead, it might just look like hitting the "block" button and vowing never to go on a date with them again.

Canceling might lead to unrealistic expectations

Canceling a rude date might be one strategy to protect your peace, but it's essential not to let cancel culture's extremism scrap your entire love life. In some cases, being quick to cancel a match might be a sign that you're being too picky, especially if you find yourself canceling more people than not. Madeleine Mason, dating psychologist and director of dating expert company PassionSmiths, broke it down to The Independent: "High standards refer to upholding principles of good manners and dating etiquette, reflecting respect, honour and authenticity to oneself and others and expecting the same behaviour in return. Being picky, on the other hand, refers to a position of choosing or rejecting based on a narrow set of [values] or attributes." In other words, canceling may be taken too far when you're quick to drop anyone who doesn't have your exact worldview.

Even in situations where a partner might cross a line, canceling isn't the only way to respond. Setting boundaries in your relationships and communicating them clearly will help your date know how to act next time. This ensures you don't get treated poorly without giving up on the relationship entirely, according to Psych Central. It's also important to remember that no one's perfect, and every partner will come with some flaws. Decide which qualities or slip-ups truly warrant canceling (meaning distancing yourself from the other person, not bullying or shaming them) and which could lead to a teachable moment.