Change The Way You Date By 'Smashing The Date-Triarchy'

When you're tired of society's outdated expectations, the best thing to do might be to throw out the rulebook and follow your own path. At least, that's the idea behind the "smashing the date-triarchy" trend. The phrase, coined by dating app Plenty of Fish, is a play on the saying "smashing the patriarchy," but instead of fighting back against male-centric norms, it's all about going against the grain in our love lives. When you smash the date-triarchy, you refuse to settle for unfulfilling relationships, even if it means staying single longer or having an unconventional relationship (the type that might be hard to explain to your tradition-loving grandma).

Though smashing the date-triarchy involves taking an individualistic approach to love, it's an idea many people can relate to. According to Plenty of Fish's data, 74% of British singles say they date based on their personal needs and timelines, not societal pressures. Moreover, many singles prioritize other interests over their relationships: 45% put their mental health and well-being first, 39% prioritize family, and 31% focus on building their career before committing to a serious relationship. Eva Gallagher, Plenty of Fish's resident dating expert, told The Sun, "We're seeing a positive movement towards singles acknowledging their self-worth, prioritising their own wants and needs, and never accepting less than they deserve — which is what we firmly believe in."

Old relationship norms aren't so normal anymore

Plenty of Fish predicts that smashing the date-triarchy will become a top dating trend in 2024, but there's evidence to show the sentiment has been brewing for a while. In 2022, psychologist Dr. Greg Matos wrote a viral article for Psychology Today detailing how heterosexual women are raising their standards in relationships, leaving men who can't keep up in the dust. Moreover — and in line with the Plenty of Fish data — many singles are simply too busy with other interests to focus on dating. According to the 2023 American Perspectives Survey by the Survey Center on American Life, 36% of single adults (including 45% of single women) said other priorities prevented them from dating.

These attitudes might explain why marriage is no longer the norm for 20-somethings the way it was in the past. While the average American in the 1970s was already married before their 24th birthday, couples have been delaying marriage more and more with each decade since, per the United States Census Bureau. As of 2022, the average man marries at age 30, while the average woman marries at 28.

However, these numbers don't even describe those who choose not to marry. Pew Research Center points out that more Americans were unpartnered in 2019 (38%) compared to 1990 (29%), and more people are now choosing to cohabit without tying the knot. If these patterns continue, smashing the date-triarchy and bucking traditional expectations might just become the new norm.

How to smash the date-triarchy

While the date-triarchy might try to dictate the kind of relationships you have and when you have them, smashing it can be a lot more open-ended. In essence, smashing the date-triarchy is any act that rebels against romantic ideals and honors your needs and priorities instead. The masterdating trend is one alternative to traditional dating where, rather than waiting to be invited on a date, you treat yourself to a solo outing.

If you're still looking for love, albeit without the repressive societal rules, practice being a little picky — but only about the things that really matter. "In a society that prioritises 'high status' attributes, we can sometimes give too much weight to the wrong qualities in a prospective partner," Relate counselor Natasha Silverman explained to Metro. Silverman noted that it's better to focus on mutual respect and how you feel with someone rather than superficial qualities such as appearance or income. If you keep attracting duds, smash the date-triarchy by refusing to lower your standards just for love.

Finally, consider experimenting with different types of relationships if the traditional courtship-exclusivity-marriage pipeline hasn't worked for you in the past. If you're too busy for something serious, consider casual partnerships instead. Or, if you've always been curious about polyamory, why not give it a go? No matter which style you choose, make sure it's consensual and that you've clearly communicated your intentions up front with your fellow date-triarchy smashers.