Do Millennials Lack Social Skills Because of Dating Apps and Texting?

Do Millennials Lack Social Skills Because of Dating Apps and Texting?

I’ll admit it: I’m insulated.

After 300 dates in New York and Los Angeles between the ages of 25-34, I’ve now been with my wife for twelve years. Our relationship pre-dates dating apps, pre-dates social media, and pretty much pre-dates texting as a primary form of communication.

That doesn’t mean I’m clueless. An oncologist doesn’t have to have cancer to be well-aware of the brutal effects of the disease. But I certainly haven’t walked a mile in the shoes of the women who turn to me for advice. So, I can’t say for sure whether there’s truth to the stereotypes I routinely hear:

Dating has never been worse. Men have never been less masculine. Women have never been less feminine. Everybody wants to text. Talking on the phone is unheard of. And, of course: millennials are an unholy combination of entitled, narcissistic and socially inept.

Which brings me to today’s article, “How to Date Without Dating Apps” in the Atlantic.

Commonsense advice isn’t really common sense when you’re in the middle of a struggle yourself.

“Millennials have, in other words, enjoyed unprecedented freedom to opt out of live or in-person interactions, particularly with people they don’t know, and have frequently taken advantage of it. And less chatting with strangers means less flirting with strangers.” 

Yep. That’s why I recommended “The Offline Dating Method” by Camille Virginia in this space, a work that is also prominently cited in the linked article.

“The very existence of a book like The Offline Dating Method could be used as evidence that smartphones and the internet are causing arrested social development for the generations that are growing up with them. And perhaps it’s true that on average, earlier generations of people, who regularly interacted with strangers and made small talk to pass the time while waiting for trains and elevators, would have less of a need for such a guide. To an extent, Virginia acknowledges as much in the book: Today, she writes, “humans are craving … connection and authenticity. Every day people are flooded with an overwhelming amount of information and distractions, most with the sole motivation of hijacking their time and/or money.” So when a modern single person meets someone “who’s able to engage them on a deeper level and sans ulterior motive, all of their unmet need for connection will likely come pouring out. So be ready, because it can happen fast.”

Commonsense advice isn’t really common sense when you’re in the middle of a struggle yourself.

So, readers, what say you? Do you think that dating apps and texting have made an actual dent in our collective ability to connect with strangers? Is flirting actually a lost art? Are things worse now than ever before – or is that just what everyone says?

Your thoughts below, are greatly appreciated.


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  1. 1

    To some extent I agree these apps do have an impact on social skills….but at the same time they can open up interactions with people that wouldn’t normally happen. Depending on how much effort each person puts into it.
    I use various apps, but I am not a fan. Being a guy, they don’t benefit me so much
    Plus, as a guy how are you supposed to act/talk on these apps?
    Seems to get a response with women, you have to have some catchy first message or play some txt’ing game with them.
    Where as if you were to meet in public, would some witty opening introduction be required or needed?? Perhaps I guess it would be.

    Apps are here to stay, so people will need to figure out the best way to use them I guess…myself included.

  2. 2
    A Random Guy

    Good grief, will the ignorant bash-the-millennials nonsense ever go away? And are people genetically wired to develop rose-tinted glasses when we grow older? Because I, for one, remember that meeting strangers rarely involved spontaneous, breezy conversations. I remember when people desperately flocked to singles bars because we found it difficult to find love irl. And we still came up empty handed and empty hearted. I know many millennials and they’re no more stunted in the social department than my generation is. The only difference is that some of them are starting to believe the rantings from the get-off-my-lawn generation . . . who interestingly enough, have also turned to social media to find dates. Oh! But unlike the emotionally stunted millennials, WE know how to use social media responsibly!

    Please feel free to walk on my lawn all you like.

  3. 3

    Agree with the current responses; millennials are a different generation, but so is every generation, with it’s own common themes. But humans do not change; we crave connection, admiration, support, sexual chemistry. Social media is just another tool, another way to connect. It can be used or misused. I think the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. Yes, the default communication is texting for many of the younger generation. I have a couple younger friends who basically told me “I don’t do phones, text me.” However, if you are dating and you continue to allow texting as the primary method of communicating, that is on you, especially for the ladies. If you let a man know how you want to be communicated with and the effort involved to catch you, he will do it. If he doesn’t, voila, instant weeding out process. However, ignoring dating apps and social media is not realistic. Being savvy with these tools is important today in dating if you want to connect. Refusing on principal to participate is a recipe for many lonely nights. And agree with Evan, if you are able to engage and connect with people in an authentic way, to draw them out, to make them feel heard, you will dominate the dating market. Because these skills are in in such sort supply. You will be like catnip to the opposite sex.

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