Review: Modern Romance, an Investigation (Aziz Ansari & Eric Klinenberg)

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Genre: Non-Fiction

Rating: ★★★★★


At some point, every one of us embarks on a journey to find love. We meet people, date, get into and out of relationships, all with the hope of finding someone with whom we share a deep connection. This seems standard now, but it’s wildly different from what people did even just decades ago. Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering. So why are so many people frustrated?

For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

In Modern Romance, Ansari combines his irreverent humor with cutting-edge social science to give us an unforgettable tour of our new romantic world.


“But a soul mate is a very hard thing to find…”


I can’t accutely describe how perfect this book was for me to re-evaluate my newly found singlehood status. And whilst in the Malay community that can be viewed as a negative thing (“Why can’t you get a guy to date you? What’s wrong with you?”), Modern Romance pointed out the huge difference in dating scenes back during our parents time and now which made me feel a whole lot better. As the decades progressed, Aziz and Eric explains in detail how technology has opened more doors for us to meet people and change our dating perception and our approach to marriage and finding our soul amte. There are pro and cons to each generation’s method undoubtedly and a few highlighted points that I was drawn to include:

  1. In our parents/grandparents’ generation where they married early, some women only got married to escape the tight clutches of their family only to find themselves in the clutches of their new husbands. While some arranged marriages turned out to be long lasting and loving over the decades, many couples find themselves frustrated and wished they had the same opportunities as we youngsters have now — to be able to explore the world and meet more people before settling down.
  2. In our world of technology, whilst we may have more options to savour more options of people, it makes us become unrealistic in finding the perfect soul mate. Which has led to so many unhappy marriages ending in divorce. Technology has made us more aware of a huge variety of samplers that we feel we’re losing out when we’re settling with a person.

“When we have too many options we become less satisfied and it makes the decision to select even harder..”

Of course, these findings are inclusive of mostly American citizens and don’t generalize across the globe. Whilst Aziz and Eric conducted various studies in Qatar, Argentina and Japan, I still find the findings relatable to the younger generation, regardless where you’re from. Social media and exposure to other people’s lives have made us a very dissatisfied bunch of people.

“We were told that we deserve the best and that has affected our approach to finding soul mates”

Now, I don’t want to review every single thing this book have to deliver, you might as well just read it in that case. But I feel compelled to mention that if you’re a single person looking for motivation in staying optimistic in finding your soul mate, you should read this book. It may or may not change your perception towards online dating services. This book will also make you feel grateful to have an emerging adulthood where we’re capable of building our careers before finding a mate which is so unlike back in our grandparent’s era.

On top of that, I love the major comparisons they’ve done from 5 decades ago till now. There are so many trends that have changed over the years and it really will open your eyes to how you view relationships and that of your peers. There is lesser stigma related to people who choose to develop their careers first before committing to a marriage. However, I can’t say the Malay community is forgiving when one makes such decisions. But Modern Romance will encourage you to be confident in your life choices, and if that’s what you want, you should go for it! If you’ve found someone to spend the rest of your life early on, then great! Despite the declining rate of marriages in our generation, everyone is still looking for true love and I love how this book celebrates it no matter what methods you choose to pursue it 🙂

Personally, this book has helped me in my healing process in the aftermath of my breakup. I have become more open-minded in getting to know the people around me and understanding that whilst some dates may end up a disaster, it shouldn’t be the end of my dating journey. It’s okay to move on and believe that everything happens for a reason. And as a Muslim, it is vital to believe your jodoh will come at the appropriate time.

I’d definitely recommend this for people who are single and looking for a boost of confidence to ask someone out. Whilst it’s not targeted for people in relationships, I’d still urge you to read this so you’d know that not everyone is as lucky as you to be in a loving and committed relationship, and to understand that everyone has different journeys in finding their true love 🙂

I hope you consider picking this up and I hope you enjoy it! 😀


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