Generations Y and Z are in desperate need of a dating manual.
I’m going to write one.

More than half of young people in America are single. That may not seem like a social crisis, but its ramifications are profound. Not to mention the fact that the majority of those who are single do not wish to remain so.

Millennials, aka Generation Y, have been hit hardest when it comes to this issue, but Generation Z—age 23 and younger—is no better off. Dating among these two generations is officially dead—thanks to a lack of communication skills (thanks, social media), the hookup culture, and a life plan that puts love on the back burner.

In the past, courtship was the way relationships evolved. And while old-fashioned romance may seem quaint, few who plan to get married someday want to actually skip this step. On the contrary, young people crave it. They just have no idea how to go about it.

This is true for both women and men, but women have to lead the way—for it is they who set the rules of the game. Men respond to women, not the other way around. So when women decided to stop husband hunting, or to end the courtship process, men had no choice but to go along for the ride.

But it’s the cultural narrative that women don’t need men and that biology is bogus that created the most havoc for the modern generation: no one knows who’s supposed to do what anymore. Women think they should be able to pursue men, and to have sex like men, and to behave in any manner they want in front of men and have everything work out between them. But it doesn’t work that way. Here’s an email I received the other day from a husband and father named Chris. Here’s what he wrote:

I find it a worry that my 29 year old daughter, very smart, very capable, but doesn’t display characteristics that will attract a man into her life. She speaks very loudly when in a social setting. Always has to be right with her facts, and generally she is. Will talk over the top of people. This worries me. It’s not that hard to attract a male. Present well, show some intellectual smarts, and crack a smile.

Here’s another from a mother named Tina:

I have a 20-year-old daughter in a relationship with a guy who will not get a job, and she orders him around like a slave. I don’t understand men today…this guy lets my daughter be totally dominant over him. Any advice?

Indeed, the modern generation of women is in desperate need of love lessons. Their entire M.O. is all wrong, and why wouldn’t it be? They get zero dating advice. It’s not like earlier advice was modified for the modern era—it just flat out doesn’t exist.

If you’re currently dating yourself, or if, like the emailers above, your adult children are—shoot me an email at with the subject line Modern Dating to tell me your concerns or to simply offer your two cents. I’m going to write a dating manual for this generation, and I’d love to include your stories.

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Suzanne Venker

Suzanne is an author, a coach, and a podcast host committed to helping women let go of cultural beliefs that undermine their happiness in life and in love.