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Gen Z’s Sexual Apocalypse. The Case for Marriage. And: Is It Time to Ditch the Apps?

Plus: The Free Press plays Cupid 💘

This Valentine’s Day, spare a thought for Sam, a single 25-year-old graduate student living in Washington, D.C. Not because he’s a graduate student. Or because he lives in D.C. (Though each is its own burden.) But because he’s a young man looking for love in the year 2024. Even worse: he’s a straight “non-MAGA Republican” looking for love in the year 2024. 

“Dating right now is just walking on eggshells, honestly,” he tells fellow Zoomer Rikki Schlott. In her story for us today, Rikki explains how the growing political divide between young men veering right and women leaning left has left Gen Z facing a sexual apocalypse—with some men resorting to desperate measures, like pretending to be woke. As one young male libertarian told Rikki, “A guy’s gotta get laid.”

But unless her peers drop their political hang-ups, Rikki warns, the future will be loveless, childless, sexless—and hopeless. 

“Politics has taken over our lives in recent years—and now it’s taken over our bedrooms, too,” she writes. “Your hot takes won’t keep you warm at night.”

Read Rikki’s piece “When It Comes to Sex, My Generation Is Screwed”: 

Free Press Fight Club: Delete the Apps! 

As well as the political divide, another thing single Zoomers—and anyone else on the dating scene—must grapple with these days are “the apps.” Talk to anyone on Raya or Hinge or Bumble or—God forbid!—Feeld and they will have their fair share of horror stories: disappointments and ghostings and unsolicited pictures, and more. But those who complain about algorithmic matchmaking are still logging on. So which one is it? Are the apps the modern-day Cupids we need, or a romantic Frankenstein’s monster that’s making users miserable? In other words: Is it time to delete the apps? 

Here to hash it out, for our Valentine’s Day edition of Free Press Fight Club, are Suzy Weiss, who says yes, the apps must go, and Ben Kawaller, who sticks up for the algorithm.

Here’s Suzy: 

This Valentine’s Day, do yourself a favor and forgo the least romantic technology conceived by man: applications that categorize people by demographics. 

If you can muscle through the profiles—gauzy with layers of virtue signaling, desperate attempts at irony, and suspiciously dated pictures—and actually make it onto a date, it’s more likely to end with a split check than fireworks. Constructing a lovable character online is one thing; performing it for the duration of IPAs and a margarita flatbread is another.

I’m no secret Boomer. I’ll never say Just look up from your phone or Go up to someone you think is cute and ask them out or Start volunteering. That would be insane. Instead, I suggest asking people you know, especially the ones in relationships you admire, if they know anyone for you. Setups are time-tested, and, because there’s a tether to the outside world through whoever made the match, good behavior is enforced by the iron law of mutually assured reputation destruction. 

Other ideas for the post-app single: if you’re short, ask for help getting something from a tall shelf at the grocery store. Ask a person at the bar if they went to the University of Michigan, because they look familiar. And if all else fails, pretend you’re having a seizure and see who saves you.

And now here’s Ben on why swiping right beats faking a seizure: 

Suzy sure must think the world of her powers of seduction. Would that we all possessed a level of confidence (egomania?) that allows us to wander about the physical world ensnaring passing strangers with the very magnetism of our being. Must be nice!

There are those who say finding a soul mate is as easy as ordering food delivery. But my dating profiles suggest otherwise. I’ve poured hours of literary energy into my personae on Tinder, OKCupid,, Grindr, and JSwipe—certainly more than I’ve ever spent on a piece of publishable journalism. I can’t exactly get those hours back now, can I, Suzy? Delete the apps and then do what? Just waltz up to strangers and say, “Jew here, looking for a pretty boy to make fun of me”? I would look crazy. 

Anyway, it’s not as if I’ve walked away with nothing. Once, for instance, a stranger from the internet with magnificent hair arrived in my apartment and within twenty minutes told me he loved me.

Suzy suggests outsourcing the search to friends. Look, I’d like an arranged marriage too, but I live in Los Angeles. I’d trust these people to recommend a cosmetic dermatologist, not a life partner.

I am a writer who spends all day alone, except for when I go to the gym, where I am surrounded by available men who meet or exceed every physical qualification I have decided are prerequisites for romantic involvement. You would have me, what, saunter up to one of these people and offer myself up for conversation? You think I haven’t tried this? I’ve said everything from “Are you using this bench?” to “Gosh, you’ve been on this machine for a while” to “You’re lifting it wrong.” Not one of these approaches has yielded me a husband.

Have the apps given me lasting happiness? No—but that doesn’t mean they won’t. I have some rewrite ideas for my Hinge profile that I’m really excited about. It may be my best work yet.

Here’s Another Idea: Get Married 

If you’re single and reading this, you might be ready to give up on love altogether. Well, Brad Wilcox is here to tell you to stick with it. Why? Because getting married is—contrary to what some claim—actually pretty great. 

Brad has just published a new book, Get Married, in which he lays out the data that shows, whether you’re a man or a woman, getting married is a recipe for a happier, more prosperous, and more meaningful life.

In an essay for The Free Press adapted from his book, Brad takes on the naysayers doing marriage down—both on the liberal left and in the “manosphere” of the online right. 

One of the popular myths Brad busts is the idea that ambitious women should stay single if they want to focus on their careers. “This individualistic message is entirely at odds with the evidence,” he argues, noting that, according to 2020 census data, the median family income of married mothers aged 18 to 55 was more than double the income of childless single women in the same category. 

Read his case for marriage in full: 

Rob Henderson’s Advice for Finding Love:

Ready to find The One? Free Press columnist Rob Henderson, a pro-marriage millennial and a frequent critic of his commitment-phobic generation, has some advice for you. I asked Rob for dating tips for young men. But to be honest, this is good advice for everyone: 

1. Take care of your health, fitness, and personal hygiene. It sounds obvious. But a surprisingly large segment of the population—especially the male side—is now run down by drugs, obesity, and other effects of a permissive physical life. Ignore Instagram and observe what real people look like now. All you have to do is exercise regularly, get a decent haircut, and wear clothes that fit to enter the top 10 percent of physical attractiveness.

2. If you’re a guy, go ahead and pay. Researchers recently surveyed 552 heterosexual college students and found that young men paid for all or most of the dates around 90 percent of the time. On average, both men and women in the sample expected the man to pay. If, on a first date, the check arrives and there’s any awkwardness, just say, “Let me get this. You can get the next one.” 

3. Stop listening to attention-seeking weirdos on TikTok, X, and YouTube. You wouldn’t take business advice from people who have failed in business, but you regularly see romantic failures amass a following on social media platforms by dispensing inept dating advice. Relatedly, make sure you know what you’re optimizing for. If you’re seeking a committed monogamous relationship, ignore the influencer living in a polycule who shows you only a small slice of his or her life. 

Rob’s new book, Troubled, is out later this month. Pre-order it here. 

Free Press Lonely Hearts Club

Unfortunately, the Free Press dating app—working name UnHinged—isn’t quite ready yet, but we couldn’t let that stop us from playing Cupid this Valentine's Day. Instead, we’re taking an old-school approach to matchmaking. 

If you’re a Free Presser looking for love, send an email to that includes your name, age, hometown, and what you’re looking for. For a little Free Press twist on the usual lonely heart ad, we also want you to tell us about a recent time you changed your mind—and why. Also let your suitors know the best way to reach out to you, whether by email, X, Signal, or carrier pigeon. 

We’ll include the best entries in our email this Saturday. 

And if you know anyone in the D.C. metro area who might be open to dating a 25-year-old non-MAGA Republican, drop us a line. We got you, Sam! 

Oliver Wiseman is a writer and editor for The Free Press. Follow him on X @ollywiseman.

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